The Wonder of Marrakesh

In his list of 100 wonders of the world (previously covered here*) Howard Hillman includes the city of Marrakesh Morocco, citing its famed public square, its souks*, and its minaret. Mr. Hillman hasn't led me astray yet, so I figured I had to stop by to have a look.

While the minaret was great, everywhere you turn in this country there are minarets. And besides the normal beauty of almost all the minarets I've come across, this one didn't stand out so much. As for the souks, it's hard to get excited about an attraction where the main activity is to buy stuff. I long ago gave up buying souveniers/trinkets for folks back home, which makes the draw of markets, aside from their energy and bustle, largely lost on me.

But the public square, Djamaa el Fna, was something that I haven't really seen before*. At first impression, it doesn't seem like much, just a big square with the occaional fresh orange juice stand. But as evening sets in, the large chunk of pavement become totally covered in street performers of all kinds and the people who come out to watch. There were snake charmers, acrobats, storytellers, impromptu boxing matches, dudes with monkeys, henna artists, traditional musicians, and more. Much of it was lost on me because I don't speak Arabic so couldn't quite figure out many of the clusters, but the excitement and bustle of it transcended language barriers. The only letdown was the lack of jugglers*. Alas.

I can't say whether Marrakesh would make it to my top 100, but it would definitely be in the running. But in my write up, I might skip the minaret and souks and instead highlight the Majorelle Garden and the Bahia Palace. But to each his own. Whatever the case, Marrakesh is a city worth visiting.
Wednesday May 15 2013File under: travel, Morocco

Toggle Comments (5)comment?
on Wed 15th May, 2013 03:10 pm PDT Mom said:
Where's the picture of the snake charmer? Bummer.
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on Thu 16th May, 2013 02:47 pm PDT Horge said:
I think you should juggle snakes. I mean, juggling fire or knives are fairly dangerous, I guess, but juggling something that would actively love to do nothing more than hurt you? Now THAT'S entertainment! And add in the possibility that the juggler could get bitten, but keeps on going, slowly succumbing to the venom, now that's just tragedy time=comedy!
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on Thu 16th May, 2013 02:49 pm PDT Horge said:
That should read tragedy plus time equals comedy...
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on Fri 17th May, 2013 10:57 am PDT Wren said:
The snakes were just about docile enough to juggle (hence the no pictures. It was actually kind of sad. I'll have to share the story sometime.)
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on Sat 18th May, 2013 09:41 pm PDT Jule said:
[In the Marrakesh marketplace]
Smithers: [to shopkeeper] "Uh, excuse me! Do you know where I can buy some, uh... [whispers] drugs?"
Shopkeeper: [loudly] "Drugs? Everything is drugs! Banana made of drugs! Monkey made of drugs! Look! All market made of drugs!"
Smithers: [picks up a brick of hashish] "I'd like to buy this."
Shopkeeper: "Only American money! [whispers] Our money is made of drugs."
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