Marrakech – The Heart of Morocco

Date : 02.12.2023
Position: Marrakech, Morocco
Geographic position: 31° 38’ N, 8° 0’ W
Etmal: 0 nm
Total: 1151 nm
Ship: Pelican of London

A quick guide to Marrakech’s history

Today and throughout time, Marrakech stands as one of the most significant cities in Morocco. The town’s history commenced in 1062 AD with the construction of the first city wall around the camp, which eventually became Marrakech. Subsequently, citizens began erecting buildings with red render, a characteristic that has earned Marrakech the moniker of the „rose-coloured city“ today. Due to the sugar trading route passing through Marrakech, the city assumed a more crucial role in the trading network, leading to the growth of its economy.

The French colonization introduced many French traditions, some of which endure to this day. Following Morocco’s independence from France in 1956, Marrakech experienced success in tourism, particularly attracting the attention of the hippie community.

Unfortunately, the financial crisis of 2008 and a terrorist attack in 2011 slightly tarnished the city’s tourist image. However, since 2013, the economy has been recovering. Morocco is increasingly becoming a popular destination, with Marrakech and its lively streets and charming souks leading the way.

Best Breakfast Buffet

The second day of December began at an unspecified time with breakfast at our Riad, served buffet-style. Therefore, anyone could get up at a time they like to go and grab what they like to eat. The various selection offered fresh orange juice, self-made yoghurt, freshly made omelette, little pancakes, pain au chocolate, baguette, different types of jams, cacao, coffee and the highlight: chocolate and coconut cake!

Everyone relished this touch of luxury, complemented by the beautiful view of the mountain peaks of the High Atlas Mountains.

Jardin Majorelle

A stroll through nearly the entire city led us to the beautiful „Jardin Majorelle.“ In a large city like Marrakech, a garden filled with palms, flowers, cacti, and other succulents from around the world, all in different shapes and sizes, offers a delightful experience. Benches along the garden paths provided space to relax and take a moment to reflect on the multitude of impressions and experiences gathered over the past few days in Morocco. We also used this oasis to do our weekly reflection.

Sandwiches in the Souks

For today’s lunch, we enjoyed sandwiches from a local food stand in the heart of the souks. „Souk“ is the Moroccan term for a small market stand or shop. The souks between Djemaa el-Fna (the largest marketplace in Marrakech, the center of Medina/old town) and the Musée de Marrakech (to the south) form a twisted labyrinth, making it challenging to find your way back at times.

We all savored our typical sandwiches while standing on the narrow street, observing the busy traffic. It is impressive to see how people by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, tuktuk or car, carrying lots of things, find their way trough the crowded and narrow streets of the Medina.

Djemaa el-Fna at Night

After another free period, which we used to further explore Moroccan food and trading culture, we had the opportunity to visit Djemaa el-Fna at night. Some of us purchased a Djellaba (traditional dress-like piece of cloth used for everyday work) or a fabric piece for making turbans for the desert.

At night, many local cooks set up their portable kitchens at Djemaa el-Fna. They offer a colourful and tasteful array of Moroccan food. Each person received 60 Dh (~6€) to purchase a dinner of their choice.

In groups, we navigated the food market. Cooks from every side tried to entice us to buy from their stand. In Morocco, a satisfying dinner can easily be obtained with only 60 Dirham. Amidst roasted meat and vegetables, couscous and Tajine, Moroccan sweets and ice cream, everyone found something delicious to eat. Musicians, dancers, and various street artists (including snakes and monkeys) contributed to the vibrant atmosphere of African nightlife.

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