• The Red City
Marrakech is in south-central Morocco about 150 miles from Casablanca and 100 miles from the Atlantic seaport and beach town of Essaouira. The nearby Atlas Mountains provide many recreational possibilities.
On arrival at Marrakech airport show address on your landing card: Dar Salama 59 Derb Bouaanan Ben Saleh 40000 Marrakech Medina
Detailed map sketch is provided showing the most direct routes to Jmaa el Fna square, neighborhood markets and landmarks.
Electric power is 220/240 volts. All devices otherwise must be universal or require transformer.
• What to Do?
We recommend a guide book for much more information. The magic of Marrakech is everywhere but here are a few suggestions of things we like and some basic tips. We hope you find our sketched map useful in finding your way around the most common and important routes.
- Madersa Ben Youssef, an ancient Koranic school/monastery, right around a couple of corners.
See our map.
- Museum of Marrakech – the back wall is facing our front door and the enormous canopy seen from the roof covers the interior courtyard. Amazing building and usually interesting exhibits. Nice café too.
- Bahia Palace – down beyond the Jmaa el Fna square (so not shown on our map, but easy to find), adjacent to the Mellah (old Jewish quarter). Quite fantastic.
- Museum of Photography – Just a couple of blocks away, a few steps beyond the Restaurant El Foundouk, see map. Wonderful historic vintage photos, run by Patrick, (US educated) and Kamal who gives a fine orientation.
- Jmaa el Fna square – awesome variety of humanity, always a spectacle, has been happening daily for a thousand years. Walk around, sit in a café and be entertained.
- Al Yedd Gallery – the selection of jewelry and range of quality in the markets is overwhelming, but if you are interested in authentic museum quality pieces this is a good bet. On the route to the Square on the far side of the Mouassine mosque (see map). It is owned by Mustafa Ouzid, run by Jawad, prices are fixed and high-end.
- Samarcand Gallery – also owned and run by our old friend, Mustafa Ouzid, a very erudite, interesting man, fluent in English. This shop is in Gueliz, the newer Europeanized part of town. Prices also fixed (very unusual) and up there. Call for an appointment and directions, O668-73-0287.
- Acima - a supermarket in Gueliz that has about everything, including wine and liquor. Open till 10:00 (liquor till 8:00). Taxi. Marjan is a big-box superstore (think Walmart). Taxi.
- Essaouira – If you have time, this is a great two or three day excursion to this fascinating historic sea-side town. Have a grilled fish feast at stalls beside the port. Accommodations and car rental can be arranged through Mahmoud. A comfortable bus leaves frequently from the train station for the three hour trip.
- Chez Chegrouni – on the Square, see map. Reliably good, traditional menu, dh50 – 80. Sit on the terrace for close-up view of the action, or climb to the roof for amazing panorama.
- Les Premices – also on the square. Recommend the fish tagine, but good for pasta and pizza, too. Dh50-100. Nice 2nd floor terrace.
- Food stalls on the Square – amazing to watch scores set up every afternoon with an incredible variety of traditional dishes. Very tempting to try but cleanliness standards are chancy – definitely avoid any uncooked salads (wise advice anywhere in Morocco, except Dar Ajiba). Some people never have a problem with street food, others, well…no fun getting sick.
- El Foundouk - Our neighborhood place, see map. One of the best in town, lovely atmosphere, roof terrace, lounge, wonderful traditional and continental cuisine, full bar. If you only have one upscale meal, this is our choice. Dh300-500. Reservation recommended, stop by, meet hostess, Hasna.
- Al Fassia – A favorite also, but another trip to Gueliz. Run entirely by women, charming dining room, fine traditional food. Dh 250-400.
- Cosybar – very cool, trendy place, down near Jewish quarter. Fine for a drink or tea, probably good food, but haven't eaten there.
- Tangia – a block from Cosybar. Same review.
- Café des Epices – on the spice square, see map. Have coffee, crepes, etc., watch the colorful action.
• Carriage Ride
A special treat. Lines of carriages parked between the Koutoubia minaret and the Square. Be a tough negotiator beforehand. Should be Dh 200-400 depending on route and time. Possible routes – to Marjorel Garden, Agdal olive grove, Casbah (Saadian Tombs).
• Taxi tips
Small taxis can carry a maximum of three passengers. Most trips should be on meter – if driver insists on flat price due to nighttime, unusual circumstances or whatever, be sure to agree on a price beforehand. From the Medina to Gueliz or back should normally be on the meter. If returning to the house have taxi take you to the "Moukf" (see map), the closest a vehicle can get. To find a cab from the house, sometimes you can catch one at Jamaa El Fna Square. But to be sure, one can always be found at the stand at the base of Koutoubia minaret by the Square. If airport transportation you can call us and we will be please to arrange your airport transfers.
• Taking pictures
Feel free to photograph most anything with the exception of people – some are camera-adverse due to being photographed so much or for religious or personal reasons. So always ask permission. Around the Square, performers, water-sellers, etc. make much of their living from being photographed and may expect more.
• Suggested Reading
- Writers on Marrakech, compilation of a grand spectrum of views
- Culture Shock, Morocco (insightful guide)
- In Morocco, Edith Wharton
- Dreams of Trespass, Fatima Mernissi
-Caliph's House, Tahir Shah