MARRAKESH

Introduction

Info Marrakesh


introduction

Marrakesh is a major city of Morocco. It is the fourth largest city in the country, after Casablanca, Fes and Tangier. It is the capital city of the mid-southwestern region of Marrakesh-Safi. Located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is located 580 km (360 mi) southwest of Tangier, 327 km (203 mi) southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 km (149 mi) south of Casablanca, and 246 km (153 mi) northeast of Agadir.

Marrakesh is possibly the most important of Morocco's four former imperial cities (cities that were built by Moroccan Berber empires). The region has been inhabited by Berber farmers since Neolithic times, but the actual city was founded in 1062 by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, chieftain and cousin of Almoravid king Yusuf ibn Tashfin. In the 12th century, the Almoravids built many madrasas (Koranic schools) and mosques in Marrakesh that bear Andalusian influences. The red walls of the city, built by Ali ibn Yusuf in 1122–1123, and various buildings constructed in red sandstone during this period, have given the city the nickname of the "Red City" or "Ochre City". Marrakesh grew rapidly and established itself as a cultural, religious, and trading centre for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa; Jemaa el-Fnaa is the busiest square in Africa.

Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls (the medina), bordered by modern neighborhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination. Tourism is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, with the goal of doubling the number of tourists visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020. Despite the economic recession, real estate and hotel development in Marrakesh has grown dramatically in the 21st century. Marrakesh is particularly popular with the French, and numerous French celebrities own property in the city. Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks selling wares ranging from traditional Rural carpets to modern consumer electronics. Crafts employ a significant percentage of the population, who primarily sell their products to tourists.

Marrakesh is served by Ménara International Airport and the Marrakesh railway station, which connects the city to Casablanca and northern Morocco. Marrakesh has several universities and schools, including Cadi Ayyad University. A number of Moroccan football clubs are located here, including Najm de Marrakech, KAC Marrakech, Mouloudia de Marrakech and Chez Ali Club de Marrakech. The Marrakesh Street Circuit hosts the World Touring Car Championship, Auto GP and FIA Formula Two Championship races.


info
POPULATION :928,850
FOUNDED :  1062
TIME ZONE : WET (UTC+0)   /   Summer : WEST (UTC+1)
LANGUAGE : Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy
RELIGION : Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
AREA :
ELEVATION : 466 m (1,529 ft)
COORDINATES : 31°37′48″N 8°0′32″W
SEX RATIO : Male: 
 Female: 
ETHNIC : Arab-Berber 99%, other 1%
AREA CODE :
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE : +212 44
WEBSITE :


Tourism

The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, which means "go and stop" which was said a long years ago to visitors and camels on the traffic. It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the foot of the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it an enviable destination in Morocco.

The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character; it also contains the large square Jeema el fna, where many hotels are located and tourists, locals and vendors congregate. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

Marrakech is the main tourist destination in Morocco and thus, unfortunately, also a place where many Moroccans try to become rich fast by ripping off tourists. This mentality is so widespread that even Moroccans are now ripped off whenever possible so that they call the city "Marrakech, Arnakech" - which rhymes in Arabic and translates to "Marrakech, Mafia".

  • Marrakech Tourist Information (at a small square at the intersection of Avenue Mohammed V and Rue de Yugoslavie)


History

The Marrakesh area was inhabited by Berber farmers from Neolithic times, and numerous stone implements have been unearthed in the area. Marrakesh was founded in 1062 (454 in the Hijri calendar) by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, chieftain and second cousin of the Almoravid king Yusuf ibn Tashfin (c. 1061–1106). Under the Almoravids, pious and learned warriors from the desert, numerous mosques andmadrasas (Koranic schools) were built, developing the community into a trading center for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Marrakesh grew rapidly and established itself as a cultural and religious center, supplanting Aghmat, which had long been the capital of Haouz. Andalusian craftsmen from Cordoba and Seville built and decorated numerous palaces in the city, developing the Umayyad style characterized by carved domes and cusped arches. This Andalusian influence merged with designs from the Sahara and West Africa, creating a unique style of architecture which was fully adapted to the Marrakesh environment. Yusuf ibn Tashfin completed the city's first mosque (the Ben Youssef mosque, named after his son), built houses, minted coins, and brought gold and silver to the city in caravans.The city became the capital of the Almoravid Emirate, stretching from the shores ofSenegal to the center of Spain and from the Atlantic coast to Algiers.

Marrakesh is one of the great citadels of theMuslim world.The city was fortified by Tashfin's son, Ali ibn Yusuf, who in 1122–1123 built the ramparts which remain to this day, completed further mosques and palaces, and developed an underground water system in the city known as the rhettara to irrigate his new garden. In 1125, the preacher Ibn Tumert settled in Tin Mal in the mountains to the south of Marrakesh. He preached against the Almoravids and influenced a revolt which succeeded in bringing about the fall of nearby Aghmat, but stopped short of bringing down Marrakesh following an unsuccessful siege in 1130. The Almohads,Masmouda tribesmen from the High Atlas mountains who practiced orthodox Islam, took the city in 1147 under leader Abd al-Mu'min. After a long siege and the killing of some 7,000 people, the last of the Almoravids were exterminated apart from those who sought exile in the Balearic Islands. As a result, almost all the city's monuments were destroyed. The Almohads constructed a range of palaces and religious buildings, including the famous Koutoubia Mosque (1184–1199), and built upon the ruins of an Almoravid palace. It was a twin of the Giralda in Seville and the unfinished Hassan Tower in Rabat, all built by the same designer. The Kasbah housed the residence of the caliph, a title borne by the Almohad rulers from the reign of Abd al-Mu'min, rivaling the far eastern Abbasid Caliphate. The Kasbah was named after the caliph Yaqub al-Mansur. The irrigation system was perfected to provide water for new palm groves and parks, including the Menara Garden. As a result of its cultural reputation, Marrakesh attracted many writers and artists, especially fromAndalusia, including the famous philosopher Averroes of Cordoba.

The death of Yusuf II in 1224 began a period of instability. Marrakesh became the stronghold of the Almohad tribal sheikhs and the ahl ad-dar (descendants of Ibn Tumart), who sought to claw power back from the ruling Almohad family. Marrakesh was taken, lost and retaken by force multiple times by a stream of caliphs and pretenders, such as during the brutal seizure of Marrakesh by the Sevillan caliph Abd al-Wahid II al-Ma'mun in 1226, which was followed by a massacre of the Almohad tribal sheikhs and their families and a public denunciation of Ibn Tumart's doctrines by the caliph from the pulpit of the Kasbah mosque. After al-Ma'mun's death in 1232, his widow attempted to forcibly install her son, acquiring the support of the Almohad army chiefs and Spanish mercenaries with the promise to hand Marrakesh over to them for the sack. Hearing of the terms, the people of Marrakesh sought to make an agreement with the military captains and saved the city from destruction with a sizable payoff of 500,000 dinars. In 1269, Marrakesh was conquered by nomadic Zenata tribes who overran the last of the Almohads. The city then fell into a state of decline, which soon led to the loss of its status as capital to rival city Fes.

In the early 16th century, Marrakesh again became the capital of the kingdom, after a period when it was the seat of the Hintataemirs. It quickly reestablished its status, especially during the reigns of the Saadiansultans Abu Abdallah al-Qaim and Ahmad al-Mansur. Thanks to the wealth amassed by the Sultans, Marrakesh was embellished with sumptuous palaces while its ruined monuments were restored. El Badi Palace, built by Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578, was a replica of the Alhambra Palace, made with costly and rare materials including marble from Italy, gold dust from Sudan, porphyry from India and jade from China. The palace was intended primarily for hosting lavish receptions for ambassadors from Spain, England and the Ottoman Empire, showcasing Saadian Morocco as a nation whose power and influence reached as far as the borders of Niger and Mali.Under the Saadian dynasty, Marrakesh regained its former position as a point of contact for caravan routes from the Maghreb, the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan African.

For centuries Marrakesh has been known as the location of the tombs of Morocco's seven patron saints (sebaatou rizjel). When sufism was at the height of its popularity during the late 17th century reign of Moulay Ismail, the festival of these saints was founded by Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi at the request of the sultan. The tombs of several renowned figures were moved to Marrakesh to attract pilgrims, and the pilgrimage associated with the seven saints is now a firmly established institution. Pilgrims visit the tombs of the saints in a specific order, as follows: Sidi Yusuf Ali Sangadji (1196–97), a leper; Kadi Iyad or Kadi of Cueta (1083–1149), a theologian and author of Ash-Shifa (treatises on the virtues of Muhammad); Sidi Bel Abbas(1130–1204), known as the patron saint of the city and most revered in the region;Sidi Muhammad al-Jazuli (1465), a well known Sufi who founded the Djazuli brotherhood; Abdelaziz al-Tebaa (1508), a student of Djazuli; Abdallah al-Ghazwani(1528), known as Mawla; and Sidi Abu al-Qasim Al-Suhayli, (1185), also known as Imam Al Suhyani.[24] Until 1867, European Christians were not authorized to enter the city unless they acquired special permission from the sultan; east European Jews were permitted. 

During the early 20th century, Marrakesh underwent several years of unrest. After the premature death in 1900 of the grand vizier Ba Ahmed, who had been designated regent until the designated sultan Abd al-Aziz became of age, the country was plagued by anarchy, tribal revolts, the plotting of feudal lords, and European intrigues. In 1907, Marrakesh caliph Moulay Abd al-Hafid was proclaimed sultan by the powerful tribes of the High Atlas and by Ulama scholars who denied the legitimacy of his brother, Abd al-Aziz. It was also in 1907 that Dr. Mauchamp, a French doctor, was murdered in Marrakesh, suspected of spying for his country. France used the event as a pretext for sending its troops from the eastern Moroccan town of Oujda to the major metropolitan center of Casablanca in the west. The French colonial army encountered strong resistance from Ahmed al-Hiba, a son of Sheikh Ma al-'Aynayn, who arrived from the Sahara accompanied by his nomadic Reguibat tribal warriors. On 30 March 1912, the French Protectorate in Morocco was established. After theBattle of Sidi Bou Othman, which saw the victory of the French Mangin column over the al-Hiba forces in September 1912, the French seized Marrakesh. The conquest was facilitated by the rallying of the Imzwarn tribes and their leaders from the powerful Glaoui family, leading to a massacre of Marrakesh citizens in the resulting turmoil.

T'hami El Glaoui, known as "Lord of the Atlas", became Pasha of Marrakesh, a post he held virtually throughout the 44-year duration of the Protectorate (1912–1956). Glaoui dominated the city and became famous for his collaboration with the general residence authorities, culminating in a plot to dethrone Mohammed Ben Youssef (Mohammed V) and replace him with the Sultan's cousin, Ben Arafa. Glaoui, already known for his amorous adventures and lavish lifestyle, became a symbol of Morocco's colonial order. He could not, however, subdue the rise of nationalist sentiment, nor the hostility of a growing proportion of the inhabitants. Nor could he resist pressure from France, who agreed to terminate its Moroccan Protectorate in 1956 due to the launch of the Algerian War (1954–1962) immediately following the end of the war in Indochina(1946–1954), in which Moroccans had been conscripted to fight in Vietnam on behalf of the French Army. After two successive exiles to Corsica and Madagascar, Mohammed Ben Youssef was allowed to return to Morocco in November 1955, bringing an end to the despotic rule of Glaoui over Marrakesh and the surrounding region. A protocol giving independence to Morocco was then signed on 2 March 1956 between French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau and M’Barek Ben Bakkai.

Since the independence of Morocco, Marrakesh has thrived as a tourist destination. In the 1960s and early 1970s the city became a trendy "hippie mecca". It attracted numerous western rock stars and musicians, artists, film directors and actors, models, and fashion divas, leading tourism revenues to double in Morocco between 1965 and 1970. Yves Saint Laurent, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jean-Paul Getty all spent significant time in the city; Laurent bought a property here and renovated the Majorelle Gardens. Expatriates, especially those from France, have invested heavily in Marrakesh since the 1960s, and developed many of the riads and palaces. Old buildings were renovated in the Old Medina, new residences and commuter villages were built in the suburbs, and new hotels began to spring up.

United Nations agencies became active in Marrakesh beginning in the 1970s, and the city's international political presence has subsequently grown. In 1985, UNESCO declared the old town area of Marrakesh a UNESCO World Heritage Site, raising international awareness of the cultural heritage of the city. In the 1980s, Patrick Guerand-Hermes purchased the 30 acres (12 ha) Ain el Quassimou, built by the family of Leo Tolstoy; the property is now part of Polo Club de la Palmarie. On 15 April 1994, the Marrakesh Agreement was signed here to establish the World Trade Organization, and in March 1997 Marrakesh served as the site of the World Water Council's first World Water Forum, which was attended by over 500 international participants.

In the 21st century, property and real estate development in the city has boomed, with a dramatic increase in new hotels and shopping centres, fuelled by the policies of Mohammed VI of Morocco, who aims to increase the number of tourists annually visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020. In 2010, a major gas explosion occurred in the city. On 28 April 2011, a bomb attacktook place in the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, killing 15 people, mainly foreigners. The blast destroyed the nearby Argana Cafe. Police sources arrested three suspects and claimed the chief suspect was loyal to Al-Qaeda, although Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb denied involvement.


Climate

A hot semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSh) predominates at Marrakesh. Average temperatures range from 12 °C (54 °F) in the winter to 32–45 °C (90–113 °F) in the summer. The relatively wet winter and dry summer precipitation pattern of Marrakesh mirrors precipitation patterns found in Mediterranean climates. However, the city receives less rain than is typically found in a Mediterranean climate, resulting in a semi-arid climate classification.

"The region of Marrakesh is frequently described as desert in character, but, to one familiar with the southwestern parts of the United States, the locality does not suggest the desert, but rather an area of seasonal rainfall, where moisture moves underground rather than by surface streams, and where low brush takes the place of the forests of more heavily watered regions. The location of Marrakesh on the north side of the Atlas, rather than the south, forbids its from being described as a desert city, but it remains the northern focus of the Saharan lines of communication, and its history, its types of dwellers, and its commerce and arts, are all related to the great south Atlas spaces that reach further into the Sahara desert."

Climate data for Marrakesh, Morocco

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec 
Record high °C (°F)28.9
(84)
34.3
(93.7)
36.2
(97.2)
39.6
(103.3)
44.4
(111.9)
45.8
(114.4)
49.0
(120.2)
47.0
(116.6)
44.8
(112.6)
38.6
(101.5)
35.2
(95.4)
28.9
(84)
 
Average high °C (°F)18.4
(65.1)
19.9
(67.8)
22.3
(72.1)
23.7
(74.7)
27.5
(81.5)
31.3
(88.3)
36.8
(98.2)
36.5
(97.7)
32.5
(90.5)
27.5
(81.5)
22.2
(72)
18.7
(65.7)
 
Daily mean °C (°F)12.2
(54)
13.8
(56.8)
15.8
(60.4)
17.3
(63.1)
20.6
(69.1)
23.8
(74.8)
28.3
(82.9)
28.3
(82.9)
25.3
(77.5)
21.1
(70)
16.3
(61.3)
12.6
(54.7)
 
Average low °C (°F)5.9
(42.6)
7.6
(45.7)
9.4
(48.9)
11.0
(51.8)
13.8
(56.8)
16.3
(61.3)
19.9
(67.8)
20.1
(68.2)
18.2
(64.8)
14.7
(58.5)
10.4
(50.7)
6.5
(43.7)
 
Record low °C (°F)−2.3
(27.9)
−3.0
(26.6)
0.4
(32.7)
2.8
(37)
6.8
(44.2)
9.4
(48.9)
12.1
(53.8)
12.8
(55)
10.0
(50)
1.1
(34)
0.0
(32)
−1.6
(29.1)
 

Source #1: NOAA
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes and humidity)


Geography

By road, Marrakesh is located 580 kilometres (360 mi) southwest of Tangier, 327 kilometres (203 mi) southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat, 239 kilometres (149 mi) southwest of Casablanca, 196 kilometres (122 mi) southwest of Beni Mellal, 177 kilometres (110 mi) east ofEssaouira, and 246 kilometres (153 mi) northeast of Agadir. The city has expanded north from the old centre with suburbs such as Daoudiate, Diour El Massakine, Yamama, Sidi Abbad, Sakar, and Malizia, to the southeast with Sidi Youssef Ben Ali, to the west with Massima, and southwest to Hay Annahda, Berradi and beyond the airport. On the P2017 road leading south out of the city are large villages such as Douar Lahna, Touggana, Lagouassem, and Lahebichate, leading eventually through desert to the town of Tahnaout at the edge of the High Atlas, the highest mountainous barrier in North Africa.The average elevation of the snow-covered High Atlas lies above 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). It is mainly composed of Jurassic limestone. The mountain range runs along the Atlantic coast, then rises to the east of Agadir and extends northeast into Algeria before disappearing intoTunisia.

The Ourika River valley is located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Marrakesh. The "silvery valley of the Ourika river curving north towards Marrakesh", and the "red heights ofJebel Yagour still capped with snow" to the south are sights in this area. David Prescott Barrows, who describes Marrakesh as Morocco's "strangest city", describes the landscape in the following terms: "The city lies some fifteen or twenty miles from the foot of the Atlas mountains, which here rise to their grandest proportions. The spectacle of the mountains is superb. Through the clear desert air the eye can follow the rugged contours of the range for great distances to the north and eastward. The winter snows mantle them with white, and the turquoise sky gives a setting for their grey rocks and gleaming caps that is of unrivaled beauty."

With 130,000 hectares of greenery and over 180,000 palm trees in its Palmeraie, Marrakesh is an oasis of rich plant variety. Throughout the seasons, fragrant orange, fig, pomegranate andolive trees display their color and fruits in Agdal Garden, Menara Garden and other gardens in the city. The city's gardens feature numerous native plants alongside other species that have been imported over the course of the centuries, including giant bamboos, yuccas, papyrus, palm trees, banana trees, cypress, philodendrons, rose bushes, bougainvilleas, pines and various kinds of cactus plants.


Economy

Marrakesh is a vital component to the economy and culture of Morocco. Improvements to the highways from Marrakesh to Casablanca, Agadir and the local airport have led to a dramatic increase in tourism in the city, which now attracts over two million tourists annually. Because of the importance of tourism to Morocco's weak economy as a whole, King Mohammed VI has vowed to attract 20 million tourists a year to Morocco by 2020, doubling the number of tourists from 2012. The city is popular with the French, and many French celebrities have bought property in the city, including fashion moguls Yves St Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier. In the 1990s very few foreigners lived in the city, but real estate developments have dramatically increased in the last 15 years; by 2005 over 3,000 foreigners had purchased properties in the city, lured by its culture and the relatively cheap house prices. It has been cited in French weekly magazine Le Point as the second St Tropez: "No longer simply a destination for a scattering of adventurous elites, bohemians or backpackers seeking Arabian Nights fantasies, Marrakech is becoming a desirable stopover for the European jet set." However, despite the tourism boom, the majority of the city's inhabitants are still poor, and as of 2010, some 20,000 households still have no access to water or electricity. Many enterprises in the city are facing colossal debt problems.

Despite the global economic crisis that began in 2007, investments in real estate progressed substantially in 2011 both in the area of tourist accommodation and social housing. The main developments have been in facilities for tourists including hotels and leisure centres such as golf courses and health spas, with investments of 10.9 billion dirham (US$1.28 billion) in 2011.The hotel infrastructure in recent years has experienced rapid growth. In 2012, alone, 19 new hotels were scheduled to open, a development boom often compared to Dubai. Royal Ranches Marrakech, one of Gulf Finance House's flagship projects in Morocco, is a 380 hectares (940 acres) resort under development in the suburbs and one of the world's first five star Equestrian Resorts. The resort is expected to make a significant contribution to the local and national economy, creating many jobs and attracting thousands of visitors annually; as of April 2012 it was about 45% complete. The Avenue Mohammed VI, formerly Avenue de France, is a major city thoroughfare. It has seen rapid development of residential complexes and many luxury hotels. Avenue Mohammed VI contains what is claimed to be Africa's largest nightclub: Pacha Marrakech, a trendy club that plays house and electro house music. It also has two large cinema complexes, Le Colisée à Gueliz and Cinéma Rif, and a new shopping precinct, Al Mazar.


Subdivisions
NameGeographic codeTypeHouseholdsPopulation (2004)Foreign populationMoroccan population
Mechouar Kasba351.01.01.Municipality4548221114822063
Annakhil351.01.03.Arrondissement109685411123353878
Gueliz351.01.05.Arrondissement370301731012135170966
Marrakech-Medina351.01.07.Arrondissement35929167233361166872
Menara351.01.09.Arrondissement57403281663568281095
Sidi Youssef Ben Ali351.01.11.Arrondissement2377612493534124901
Alouidane351.03.01.Rural commune3794209255120874
Harbil351.03.03.Rural commune289317007017007
M'Nabha351.03.05.Rural commune189511755111754
Oulad Hassoune351.03.09.Rural commune3504191882619162
Ouled Dlim351.03.11.Rural commune209314747014747
Agafay351.05.01.Rural commune189211079111078
Ait Imour351.05.03.Rural commune199412164012164
Loudaya351.05.05.Rural commune4770269991326986
Saada351.05.07.Rural commune7206390711739054
Sid Zouine351.05.09.Rural commune218911631511626
Souihla351.05.11.Rural commune332119295219293
Tassoultante351.05.13.Rural commune60623013732


Neighbourhoods of Marrakech

Neighbourhoods of the city include: Bab Ghmat, Arset El Baraka, Arset Moulay Bouaza, Djane Ben Chogra, Arset El Houta, Bab Aylan, Arset Sidi Youssef, Derb Chtouka, Bab Hmar, Bab Agnaou, Quartier Jnan Laafia, Toureg,Kasbah, Mellah, Arset El Maach, Arset Moulay Moussa, Riad Zitoun Jdid, Kennaria, Rahba Kedima, Kaat Benahid, Zaouiat Lahdar, El Moukef, Riad Laarous, Assouel, Kechich, Douar Fekhara, Arset Tihiri, Sidi Ben Slimane El Jazouli, Diour Jdad, Rmila, Zaouia Sidi Rhalem, Kbour Chou, Ain Itti, Bab Doukkala, El Hara, and Arset El Bilk.

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