Shimmering under the North African sun, nestled between the sand dunes, is the spectacular city of Marrakech. Its streets – lined with red clay buildings- weave between each other, opening up onto souks and down into alleyways, spitting out marketplaces and grand mosques.
With a city as busy and bustling as Marrakech, it can feel nigh-on-impossible to know where to start. You can’t go wrong exploring on foot of course, you’re sure to discover some fascinating corners of the city, but some sights are truly unmissable. To make sure you photograph the best the red city has to show you, here’s a few things you’ll need to get ticked off your list.
Photograph Koutoubia Mosque
The minaret of this grand and beautiful mosque is undoubtedly Marrakech’s most iconic landmark. Built in traditional Almohad style and topped with four copper globes, it’s visible from all over the city. The architecture is simply stunning and totally atypical of this part of the world, what with its curved windows, ceramic inlays, pointed merlons and decorated arches. Of course, it’s still a functioning place of worship, so it’s open only to practicing Muslims, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying the beautiful exterior and gardens. It’s best photographed by night, when it’s wonderfully floodlit.
Visit Bahia Palace
If the mosque whet your architectural appetite, just wait until you cast your eyes on the spectacular Bahia Palace. Built in the 19th century, it was intended to be the greatest building of its time – and some would argue it achieved that feat. Everywhere you look, beautiful Arab and Islamic architecture is on show. From elaborate arches to colourful tiles and ornate stained glass lamps that hang from every wall and ceiling. Take a moment to enjoy its quaint and peaceful courtyard – it feels a million miles away from the rush and roar of Marrakech’s streets.
Eat at Jemaa el-Fnaa
Jemaa el-Fnaa is just one of the city’s huge and sprawling public squares, but perhaps its most popular. The fantastic thing about it is that it’s ever changing. As the peak of the day’s orange juice stalls, bag sellers and snake charmers disappear; dancing men, story-tellers, magicians and traditional medicine stalls emerge. As the sky turns to black, the square renews itself again when it erupts with the smells and sights of street food. Browse the markets by night and pick up something truly delicious.
Drink some mint tea
Of course, the markets at Jemaa el-Fnaa can get a little much. If you need to come up from air, head to one of the many cafés that line the square, preferably one that has a roof terrace. Mint tea is a local speciality and is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. All the while, you’ll be able to look back across the square and out across the top of the city from your high vantage point. Why not head up at sunset, and see if you can snap a pic or two of the sun falling over Marrakech?
Shop in the souks
Souks are the original markets of Marrakech. Most feature an incredible number of shops and stalls selling all manner of goods; everything from nuts to handbags, lanterns to shoes. Whether you plan to come home with your bags full or not, they’re always worth a visit and give you a true flavour of Moroccan life. Once you enter the souks you’re almost certain to get lost, but that’s part of the fun! The sights, sounds and smells will keep you occupied for hours. Do be prepared to be given the hard sell, but don’t be scared to barter on the price in return.
A totally unique and enriching cultural adventure, Morocco’s most famous city promises an unforgettable sensory overload, one you could experience with flights to Marrakech from Manchester Airport.