Today we enjoyed a wonderful lunch on the Jemaa El Fnaa square – the largest in the Medina. Two of us had traditional Moroccan dishes (Tagine Chicken & Lamb Couscous).
The others had bolognese and cheeseburgers (not shown because, why bother?).
The Jemaa El Fnaa is the famous Marrakech square which features snake charmers, musicians, performing monkeys, jugglers and vendors offering all types of touristy trinkets for sale.
We could have spent more time here (and will probably be back soon) but we needed to leave to meet a new Moroccan friend.
On our first full day living in the Old Medina of Marakech we thought that we should hire a walking guide to show us some of the noteworthy areas here.
We began by starting at the western edge of the medina at the Koutoubia. This is a 12th century mosque which established many of the key design elements which are found in Moroccan buildings and others of Moorish style.
The tall minaret is topped with three golden balls representing the three major religions in Morocco at the time of the building (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). No other building in Marrakech is allowed to exceed its 77m height (250 feet).
Oussama introduced us to the various quarters of the Medina and explained their history. Each of these quarters are anchored by a Mosque and are known for both the heritage of the original builders and the types of items sold in the souks and markets within.
We also visited a herbalist’s shop and learned how the traditional unique Moroccan argon oils are produced. We picked up some of this oil to combat the growing wrinkles in the parents’ faces and some saffron for cooking when we get home.
We spent 3 hours and feel as though we merely scratched the surface of the Medina. We saw leather makers, blacksmiths, and shoe makers all working in some of these alleyways as well as shops selling the Berber rugs and pottery Morocco is famous for.
It seemed as though one alley would have the rolls of leather, the next would have the artisans that cut, stretched and colored the leather, followed by the assemblers which stitched the pieces, added the metal from the smiths and shined the final shoe. The next alley over would sell them.
We were walking down narrow streets with shops on each side, motorbikes and loaded handcarts rolling by us. It was busy and very exciting. Plus, the combined scents of the Medina is very unique and not disagreeable. We didn’t buy anything today although the kids, especially CreeperKitty, took an interest in a wood carver. He was happy to have an audience and stopped making chess pieces to quickly make them each a gift.
So far it seems like a pretty fascinating place to spend a few days getting lost.