Marrakech Medina (World Heritage)
Founded in the 11th century, Marrakech is one of the four royal cities of the country and was once the capital of the Almoravids and Almohads. The medina is surrounded by a wall with magnificent city gates. The center with its mosques, palaces, houses, alleys and squares is a gem of Arab architecture.
Marrakech Medina: Facts
|Official title:||Marrakech medina|
|Cultural monument:||Medina, surrounded by a 12 km long wall and provided with some city gates such as the “Gate of the thickened grape juice” (Bab er-Robb), there also a. the Koutoubia Mosque with a 77 m high minaret and 17 naves, the El Mouassin Grand Mosque with seven naves, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, which once held up to 900 students, the Saadian tombs, the burial place of 4 sultans, and the El Badi Palace (16th century). Century)|
|Country:||Morocco, Marrakech Province|
|Location:||Marrakech, on the edge of the High Atlas, south of Casablanca|
|Meaning:||the capital of the Berber Almoravids and Almohads as a jewel of Arab architecture and a center of leather handicrafts|
Marrakech Medina: History
|1147||Takeover by Almohads|
|1153-90||Construction of the Koutoubia Mosque|
|1269||Conquest by the Merinids|
|14th century||Madrasa Ben Youssef, largest Maghreb religious school|
|16th century||with the Saadites return of the royal court|
|Late 19th century||Construction of the Dar Si Said Palace|
|1912||Entry of French troops|
|1998||Restoration of the Koutoubia Mosque completed|
|2001||Inclusion of the cultural area of Djemaa el-Fna Square as the first place in the newly created UNESCO list of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of mankind|
The magic carpet stop
It smells of incense, sweet tea and fresh fruits from a strange world – the aroma of the Orient envelops the medina. As if one had rubbed on Aladdin’s magic lamp and wished for the time of the Middle Ages, the medieval old town appears before our eyes. Day in and day out in the afternoons on the Djemaa el Fna juggler’s square, a folk festival that is not organized by anyone begins: snake charmers, magicians, Arabic storytellers, acrobats, fire-eaters and falconers perform here. From a distance, rhythmic tambourine drums penetrate, the bagpipe-like sound of the traditional Gaïda flutes cannot be ignored. The magic of the Arabian Nights spreads over Djemaa el Fna, a mood like from Scheherazade’s tales. The colorful hustle and bustle in the evening is like a ride in heaven on the magic carpet across into another time. The old town residents continue to celebrate after most of the foreign visitors are already back in their tour buses to Agadir, Morocco’s number 1 seaside resort, after dark. Whoever surrenders to the magic of this place forgets that Djemaa el Fna was the place of execution in this royal city at the time of the Almohads.
Over 10,000 craftsmen still work today in the narrow workshops of the alley labyrinth of the medina. Many of them sit in rooms open to the street and do their day’s work there. Anyone can see them in the workshops, can watch tailors, cobblers and instrument makers at work. Modern machines are rare. As it has been for centuries, dexterity and skill are required in the alleys of the old town, which are still organized according to guilds. The deeper you go into the medina, the further you get away from the plastic world of souvenirs tailored to tourists, which still define the picture in the outer area of the souks. Dripping balls of wool in bright orange, dark blue and yellow hang in the Färbergasse to dry in the fresh air.
Hollywood has also already discovered Marrakech: scenes from the classic movie “Lawrence of Arabia” were filmed in the Bahia Palace, a Moorish-style residence from the 19th century. The 150 rooms of this residence will be closed to visitors when King Mohammed VI. holds court in the city, for then servants and royal staff move into the palace.
In the middle of the 11th century the city was founded as an army camp for the Almoravids. A Berber settlement grew out of this and soon developed into the capital of the Almoravid Empire. Today’s image of Marrakech was largely shaped by the Almohads, under whose rule the city flourished from the middle of the 12th century. It quickly developed into an important hub for trade between the Maghreb and the Sahara. Even slaves were offered for sale in the old town. Today it is the spice sellers who sell their goods where people were traded off centuries ago.
The four oldest gates of the well-preserved and once almost twelve kilometers long and up to nine meters high adobe city walls – Bab Aguenaou, Bab Rhemat, Bab Ailen and Bab Doukkala – date from the heyday of Marrakech. It was the color of the clay on these walls and many buildings that gave the royal city on the Atlas Mountains the nickname “The Red Pearl”. The symbol of the medina is the Koutoubia Mosque with its striking, 77-meter-high sandstone minaret. It is said to have been the inspiration for the Giralda in Seville, Spain. Inside, a ramp winds to the gallery, on which the muezzin could ride up the tower. The huge mosque is still in use today and can accommodate 25,000 people. However, it cannot be visited. Mosques remain closed to non-Muslims in Morocco as featured on a2zdirectory.