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Maroc 2017

What about Africa for a change?

We spent six weeks in Morocco, a country at the door step of Europe and full of surprises.

We discovered a great people, medieval medinas and modern cities, Roman ruins, colonial relics and breathtaking landscapes, an interesting mix of tradition and modernity.

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Path: Photos > Marrakesh
Tags: Morocco  2017

Marrakesh

 

(vero;2018-July-31)

Marrakesh was our final stop. We had heard so much about the place, with most of our friends having already been there and bringing back great memories, that we were curious and anxious whether we would also fall in love with the city. Well, we loved the wonderful palaces with their delicate architecture, the evenings on busy and entertaining Djemaa el-Fna (although I tend to prefer the Thai night markets) but we did not really like the souks and the medina: much too much traffic, too touristy. After Fez and Meknes they were a let down.

Marrakesh's landmark is the Koutoubia Mosque built in the 12th century. Its minaret (70m high) has been the model for the Giralda in Seville and Rabat's Le Tour Hassan.
The Koutoubia minaret in full height. The Koutoubia in sunset mood. You may wonder what is the gibbet-like mast doing on top of the minaret, something typical Moroccan. Well, it is of course not a gibbet: in the past, in a time without loudspeakers, the muezzin used to raise a white flag on top of the minaret to indicate to the believers too far away to hear his call that it is prayer time. Group of musicians on Djemaa el-Fna. The place is nothing special during the day and at first sight one keeps wondering why everybody is so crazy about it. But then comes the evening and one starts to understand… The night activity begins shortly before sunset when people arrive with carts or vans, unload their contents and start to erect what will become a huge open-air food court. Each stall has its own number, everything is well organised. This stall is offering fruit juices and smoothies. Salads, tajines, couscous, grilled meat, there is plenty on offer. The fight for customers is intense: there is row upon row of stalls with tables and banks, all offering more or less the same thing and it is an art to attract the strolling tourists and convince them to stop here and look no further. Waiters are swift and chatty, everything must happen quickly, the diners should not occupy the tables too long, the next customers are already in sight! But it is not only about food; there are groups of musicians playing music, souvenir sellers, fortune tellers, games. Djemaa el-Fna at night; food stalls in the background, strolling tourists and visitors in the foreground. Souvenir seller on place Djemaa el-Fna. Olive shops: so mouth-watering and tempting… Mural in Marrakesh's medina. We were not really impressed by the souks: there were too many tourist shops and above all we found the wide alleys and the motorcycle or bicycle traffic really annoying and frustrating. After Fez and Meknes we could not help but being disappointed. Marrakesh is full of palaces and riads. From the outside you only see bare and high walls. But step inside and you'll find lavish rooms built around a garden or an inner courtyard. This picture has been taken inside Dar Si Said, a palace built at the end of the 19th century and shows the wedding reception chamber with its domed and lofty ceiling. Dar Si Said - the wedding reception chamber. Dar Si Said - colourful ceiling of the wedding reception chamber. Dar Si Said - another view of the ceiling of the wedding reception chamber. Dar Si Said - inner courtyard with its fountain. This picture has been taken in the Bahia Palace, also built at the end of the 19th century. Its lavish decoration is breathtaking. We had been very impressed by the Dar Si Said palace the day before but Bahia Palace trumped everything we had seen so far. Detail of an inner courtyard in the Bahia Palace. Yet another impressive ceiling of the Bahia Palace. Monumental doors in the Bahia Palace. Details of a wall ornamentation in the Bahia Palace. Bahia Palace again… … and again. The Bahia Palace was a definite highlight of our visit in Marrakesh. This picture shows the inside of the now ruined Badi Palace built at the end of the 16th century by Sultan Ahmed El-Mansour (reigned 1578-1603). The sultan called the best craftsmen of Europe and North Africa to build and decorate his palace with Italian marble, mosaics, stucco, golden ceilings and much more. Unfortunately this splendour did not last. Al Rashid, the first Alaouite ruler conquered Marrakesh in 1669. He died 1672 and the people of Marrakesh refused to swear allegiance to his half-brother and successor, Moulay Ismail, preferring his nephew Ahmad ibn Muhriz. The ensuing conflict between the two contenders culminated in June 1677 in the sack of Marrakesh and the demolition of the Badi palace by Moulay Ismail. There is little left of the Badi Palace except its high outer walls which serve as nesting place for a multitude of storks. The walls of the Badi Palace with the minaret of the Kasbah Mosque in the background. The sound of the storks clattering their beaks was a constant companion during our visit. Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour (reigned 1578-1603) of Badi Palace fame, wanted also to shine in death and had a necropolis built near the Kasbah Mosque for himself, his family and many favourites of his court. Here again, he spared no expenses and built his own mausoleum with cedar wood doors, golden ceilings, Carrara marble and finest stucco decorations. This picture shows the so-called Chamber of the 12 Pillars. In the centre are the tombstones of the Sultan, his son and grand-son. The tombs around them are from the close family. Saadian Tombs - inside the Chamber of the 12 Pillars. Saadian Tombs - intricate stucco carvings, golden ceiling. Saadian Tombs - detail of the cedar wood entrance to the mausoleum. Delicate carvings in the Saadian Tombs.

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$updated from: Photos.htxt Mon 03 May 2021 16:08:28 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$