Hotels in Marrakech Menara
Exotic music, snake charmers, bustling bazaars and spicy aromas: Marrakech is an intense experience for all the senses. Formerly an imperial city and caravan trading post, it was founded in the 11th century, and the old city – the medina – feels as though it has changed little over the centuries. When finding a hotel in Marrakech, sleep in style and try a stunning, traditional mosaic and jewel encrusted ‘Riad’.
A maze of narrow alleys, countless market stalls and an eclectic mix of artisans, from story tellers to henna tattoo artists, give Marrakech a vibrant atmosphere and a true sense of adventure. Known as the ‘Red City’ for its ochre-coloured sandstone buildings, and with the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains providing an impressive backdrop, this is a fascinating city which will appeal to even the most seasoned traveller.
The main square filled with stalls and entertainers, including snake charmers
Marrakech’s maze of markets; bargain for anything from spices to carpets
The intricately decorated Arabic-style tombs of the Saadi Dynasty
Marrakech has a number of cultural sites, many of which offer some respite from the hustle and bustle of frenzied medina life. The beautiful gardens of the Koutoubia Mosque are a peaceful haven for visitors, which, unlike the Mosque itself, permit non-Muslims. Head to the Menara Gardens for views over the medina and the Atlas Mountains, or the exquisite Majorelle Gardens, previously owned by French designer Yves Saint Laurent and home to the Museum of Islamic Art.
Museum-lovers are well catered for, with the Dar Si Said Museum a particularly notable example, displaying a captivating array of objects illustrating Moroccan history, and a wonderful collection of local art and craft. Culture vultures will also love the ornate El Bahia Palace, which gives a fascinating insight into life as a 19th century Moroccan nobleman.
For a traditional Moroccan experience visit a Hammam or public bath house, such as Bab Doukkala or Dar El-Bacha, for a massage and spa treatment. Les Bains de Marrakech are more geared towards tourists, while others are frequented by locals and are more authentic.
Marrakech is the ideal place to get acquainted with Moroccan cuisine, with a limitless choice of places to eat ranging from barbecues in the street to classy restaurants serving international cuisine. Perhaps the best and most authentic way to sample traditional dishes, however, is to wander amongst the dozens of stalls set up in the evenings in Djemaa el Fna square. Among the most popular dishes to try is the tagine, a slow-cooked stew infused with exotic spices in a clay pot, while the more adventurous might pluck up the courage to try a bowl of local snails.
Marrakech enjoys a Mediterranean climate of warm summers and mild winters. Though temperatures from July to September are hot, the climate is not humid, which makes the heat tolerable. Light rainfall is not uncommon from November through to April.
Spring and autumn are the most comfortable times to visit Marrakech from the point of view of the temperature, but if you seek heat, go in the peak tourism months of July and August. It is usually sunny all year round, so there is not really a bad time to visit, but it can be cold at night during the winter.
Flights to Marrakech land at Marrakech-Menara International Airport, located just 6km to the southwest of the city. There is the unreliable half-hourly number 11 bus service to get you to the medina, or you can take a ‘petit taxi’, but be prepared to bargain to get a good deal!
Images by Flickr/Roubicek2
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