Places to discover Marrakech’s rich culture
Marrakech is packed with iconic cultural sites not to be missed during your stay. It’s time to take a stroll!
Places to discover Marrakech: Dreaming of discovering Marrakech and immersing yourself in its cultural wealth? Here are 8 of Marrakesh’s most emblematic cultural landmarks, to help you discover the city’s history, architecture and art. Follow us on a Morocco Tours of a lifetime!
Marrakech’s Medina is clearly a must-see if you want to discover the city’s rich cultural heritage. If you’re looking for a place rich in history, this ancient city founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids should appeal to you. Since 1985, the medina has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This maze of narrow, winding streets is filled with colorful souks, artisan workshops and historic houses. Wander the streets and discover the architecture, culture and daily life of the Marrakchi people.
The medina is easily accessible on foot from most points in the city, making it a great place to visit the many monuments and museums in the area, as well as the famous souks. Take the opportunity to shop for carpets, ceramics and handicrafts. But beware of pickpockets during your visit.
If you’re in Marrakech, the Medina is a must-see, where you can lose yourself in the authentic quarters and admire the historic buildings!
The Koutoubia mosque
If you’re planning a visit to Marrakech, there’s one mosque you won’t want to miss: the Koutoubia. Dating back to the 12th century and built in the style of Islamic architecture, it is one of the city’s most emblematic symbols. With its impressive 77-meter minaret, it’s hard to miss! Although access is not permitted to non-Muslims, you can admire its beauty from the outside. If you’re in the famous Jemaa el-Fna square, you can easily get there on foot or by cab.
When visiting Koutoubia, it’s essential to respect the religious customs of its inhabitants. For example, avoid taking photos or sitting on door thresholds. However, you can still take advantage of your visit to explore Jemaa el-Fna Square and discover its rich culture. With its many food and entertainment stalls, this square is a place of exchange for locals and travelers alike.
The Saadian tombs
Places to discover Marrakech: The Saadian Tombs are a must-see for discovering Marrakech’s rich culture. Built-in the 16th century, these historic sites were rediscovered in the 1910s and are now a place of pilgrimage for Moroccans and tourists alike. The Saadian tombs are famous for their decoration and mosaics, as well as for the simplicity and austerity of their architecture.
Located in the Kasbah district, they can be reached on foot from most Marrakech hotels. A great advantage! We recommend visiting the Saadian Tombs early in the morning to avoid the crowds and learn more about Marrakech’s history and culture. The visit allows you to admire the traditional architecture of the site, as well as the artistic details on the walls. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover one of Marrakech’s most important and most visited historical sites!
If you’re looking for a cultural discovery in Marrakech, don’t miss the famous Majorelle Garden! Created in the 1920s by French painter Jacques Majorelle, these gardens are a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bought by Yves Saint Laurent, they are now one of Marrakech’s most beautiful spots. As you stroll through the alleys, admire the exotic plants, fountains and sculptures, while visiting the on-site Berber museum.
The gardens offer a breath of fresh air in which to relax and recharge your batteries. You can learn more about Marrakech’s history and culture by discovering the sculptures and fountains and visiting the Berber Museum, where you can see traditional costumes and objects. If you decide to visit the Majorelle Gardens, we recommend you wear suitable footwear for walking on the sometimes slippery paths. To get there, simply take a cab and let yourself be transported to this enchanting place. One thing’s for sure: you’ll be seduced!
The Marrakech Museum
Places to discover Marrakech: If you’re passionate about history and culture, the Musée de Marrakech is a must-see. The early 20th-century palace houses exhibitions on the city’s history and culture, as well as contemporary Moroccan art. Traditional Moroccan architectural details, such as pointed arches, carved stucco ceilings, and interior gardens, are a feast for the eyes.
It is simple to get to the museum on foot or by automobile. It is located in Marrakech’s medina, near Place Ben Youssef. Check the hours of operation before going.
At the Musée de Marrakech, you’ll be captivated by the informative way in which you discover the city’s history and culture. Exhibitions of Moroccan arts and crafts are a real plus. There are also guided tours of the palace to take you on a journey through the city’s history. I promise you, you won’t regret your visit to the Marrakech Museum, which is a true cultural gem!
Jemaa el-Fna Square
Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna square is a must-see for all travelers in search of rich cultural experiences! Since the 11th century, this emblematic square has been the heart of the city of Marrakech. Once a livestock market, it is now a gathering place for artists, storytellers, and musicians.
Here, you can enjoy the lively nightlife around the restaurants, cafés, and tempting-smelling food stalls. The merchants offer traditional Moroccan dishes that you can savor while enjoying performances by talented local artists.
Located in Marrakech’s medina, Jemaa el-Fna Square is easily reached on foot or by cab. Here you can get a henna tattoo, listen to local storytellers or just soak up the lively atmosphere as you watch passers-by. However, be on your guard against pickpockets, especially in the evening when the crowds are thick.
El Badi Palace
Places to discover Marrakech: If you’re passing through town, don’t miss the El Badi Palace, a place rich in history and culture. Built in the 16th century for Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur Dhahbi, this opulent building is now in ruins, but retains all its historic charm and former magnificence. We recommend you plan plenty of time to explore the palace’s remains, wearing comfortable shoes as the ground can be uneven.
El Badi Palace is easily reached on foot or by cab from Jemaa el-Fna Square. The El Badi Palace is one of Marrakech’s jewels, so be sure to include this visit in your itinerary!
The secret garden
Marrakech’s Secret Garden is another iconic place to marvel at, dating back to the 16th century. The palace in which the garden is located was destroyed at the end of the 17th century, and the idea of restoring it was born in 2008. After 8 years of renovation, you’ll find the garden hidden behind a wooden door in the heart of the historic medina. It’s a true oasis of peace, where fountains, exotic plants, and traditional architecture have wisely flourished over the centuries. Details such as zelliges, wood carving, and stucco testify to the historical and cultural richness of this place.
To get there, you can either take a cab or go on foot. Once you’re there, let yourself be taken in by the peaceful, fairytale atmosphere of this garden and capture some sensational photos. However, in high season, it’s often very crowded, so it’s advisable to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon for a more serene experience. The Secret Garden is a must-see if you’re in Marrakech to discover the cornerstones of its rich architectural and cultural heritage. Ready to go?
As you explore Marrakech’s iconic landmarks, you’ll discover the cultural richness of this fascinating city. From historic monuments to lush gardens and lively neighborhoods, Marrakech offers an unforgettable cultural experience. So, what are you waiting for to discover these cultural treasures?
Marrakech Medina: a fascinating and typical Moroccan Old Town
Are you planning to discover the “Red City”? To help you plan your trip to Morocco, take a look at our guide to the Medina of Marrakech!
The historic heart of Marrakech, the Medina is the largest in the Maghreb! In this almost thousand-year-old Arab Old Town, tourists and modest Marrakchis rub shoulders. Some stroll through the winding streets, past orange groves, and fountains, while others bustle about the souks of the Medina.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient quarter is home to many magnificent monuments and remains, including the Koutoubia mosque, the Ben Youssef Medersa, and the Saadian tombs. You’ll also find a number of museums. But above all, the Medina is home to Marrakech’s famous souk and Jemaa el-Fna square, the city’s populous heart and “Court of Miracles”.
During your stay in Marrakech, you can’t fail to discover this fantastic, typically Moroccan Old Town. But what absolutely must you visit? We cover everything you need to know about the Medina of Marrakech in order to have the best possible experience there, from its monuments to practical facts, its history and potential guided excursions!
History of Marrakech Medina
Founded by the Almoravids in 1070-1072, the red city was for a long time one of the major political, cultural, and economic centers of the Muslim West. The city soon became the capital of the Almoravid Emirate. This Euro-African empire stretched from the banks of the Senegal River to the center of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Moroccan Atlantic coast in the east to Algiers in the west. At the instigation of the Almoravid rulers, mosques and palaces were built with the help of Andalusian craftsmen from Seville and Cordoba. This Andalusian influence is fused with Saharan and West African stylistic elements.
In the Medina of Marrakech, one may still see this distinctive and unusual architecture. The city was also fortified by Ali Ben Youssef. The ramparts dating from 1122-1123 are still visible today!
In 1147, the Almohads took over the city. They destroyed most of the Almoravid monuments. The new rulers nevertheless built numerous palaces and religious edifices, including the famous Koutoubia mosque and the Casbah. At the beginning of the 16th century, Marrakech became the capital of the Saadian Empire and returned to greatness. The city was embellished, ruined monuments restored, and sumptuous palaces built. The El Badi Palace in particular dates from this period. Most of Medina’s monuments date from these grandiose eras: the monumental gates, gardens, palaces, Ben Youssef medersa, Saadian tombs, and Jamaâ El Fna square.
Jamaâ El Fna Square, a veritable open-air theater, still amazes visitors and locals alike!
What to see and do in Marrakech’s Medina?
Marrakech’s most interesting monuments and most of its museums are to be found in the Medina. A must-see, you’ll probably spend most of your time here. The Medina is thus the most charming and touristic part of the city.
At first glance, the Medina may seem like an anarchic mess. After all, it’s a veritable labyrinth of alleyways, squares, souks, and riads, amidst which stand palaces, mosques, and Koranic schools. But it’s this “bazaar” that makes the Medina so charming. However far it may be from Arabia or Persia, it inevitably evokes tales of the Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin, or Sindbad.
Starting point: Jemaa el-Fna Square
Places to discover Marrakech: This large square is the heart of Marrakech’s Medina. Open and airy, this traditional, popular, and lively place is a must-see! During the day, fairground vendors, hawkers, and street performers provide the daily spectacle. At night, they are joined by food stalls. It’s the ideal starting point for visiting Marrakech’s Medina and discovering all its wonders.
West: the Koutoubia mosque
To the west of the square, you can begin your visit to Marrakech’s Medina with the Koutoubia Mosque. Built-in the 12th century, its architecture and ascetic decor reflect the art of the Almohads. It is renowned for its 77 m-high minarets. It also houses one of the largest prayer halls in the Muslim West, seating up to twenty thousand worshippers!
North of the Medina
Places to discover Marrakech: North of the square, you can discover some of Marrakech’s major monuments: the Mouassine Mosque and its museum, the Maison de la Photo, and the fantastic Secret Garden. Your visit is sure to include the Ben Youssef medersa, as well as magnificent riads, fountains, and hammams. The souk district also begins in the north of Marrakech’s Medina.
South of the Medina
Once you’ve visited the north of the Medina, don’t miss the opportunity to walk down to the opposite end of Jemaa el-Fna beach in the south. Here you’ll discover the Kasbah and the Mellah, two old quarters near the Royal Palace. Here you can visit a number of must-see sites, including the magnificent Bahia Palace and the fascinating Bert Flint Museum of Crafts and Ethnology. We also recommend a visit to the ruins of the El Badi Palace. But above all, make sure to see the Saadian Tombs, a secret royal cemetery from the 18th century. Richly decorated, these tombs are surrounded by verdant gardens!
In the south of Medina, you can also visit the Mellah, Marrakech’s former Jewish quarter. Here you’ll discover the district’s pleasant souk. The atmosphere is also calmer and less touristy south of the Medina. Take advantage of this lull before returning to the meanders of the Old Town. Visiting Marrakech’s Medina also means getting lost in its souks and winding alleys. But beware of false guides!
How do I get to the Marrakesh Medina?
Marrakech’s Medina is located in the heart of the city. After your flight booked with Ulysse, you’ll land at the city’s airport. From here, you can easily reach the Medina. After all, your accommodation will probably be in this charming, historic district. From the airport, you can take the L11, L12, and L19 bus lines to Koutoubia or Jamaa El-Fna. The main square is the perfect starting point for a visit to Marrakech’s Mé-dina, or for getting back to your accommodation. To get around town, you can also take the L2, L3, L4, L5, L6, L10, L14, L15, L16, L19, L66 to Jamaa El-Fna and L11, L12 to Koutoubia.
If you’re planning to rent a car when you arrive in Marrakech, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of supervised pay parking lots all around the Medina. For example, you can opt for the secure Koutoubia parking lot. It’s just a stone’s throw from Place Jemaa El-Fna. Your hotel may also have a supervised parking lot. So don’t hesitate to ask before you arrive. It’s best to use public transport or walk in and around Marrakech’s Medina. However, a car can be very useful for exploring Marrakech’s surroundings and taking excursions outside the city.
Guided tours of Marrakech Medina
Places to discover Marrakech: To make sure you don’t miss a thing during your visit to Marrakech’s Medina, you can opt for a guided tour. It’s the perfect way to discover the Old Town in all its detail, and to learn more about the history of the “Red City”.
These 3-4 hour tours will take you through the winding streets of the Medina. Your local guide will explain everything there is to know about the palaces, gardens, and monuments you’ll discover. There are many different types of tours. Some take you through the local souks, others through monuments and relics from glorious eras. In each case, you’ll learn more about the history of Marrakech, its sultans, and its inhabitants.