The city is divided into two highly contrasting districts: the medina, founded by the Almoravids nearly 1,000 years ago, and the Ville Nouvelle, a French colonial modernist project from the early 20th century. It is the medina, and its central square Djemaa el-Fna, that will undoubtedly spark the imagination.
Djemaa el-Fna is the heart and soul of Marrakchi life, and really comes alive with the setting of the sun, when a caravanasi of food vendors, selling all manner of Moroccan delicacies, descend onto the square. These are accompanied by snake charmers, wide-eyed story tellers, musicians and performers that lend a medieval scent to the night air. To the north of the square are the important religious buildings and the souks, while to the south are the Imperial quarters where the palaces and monuments of past rulers proudly stand.
The Ville Nouvelle, which in comparison to the medina is a decidedly more ordered and sedate affair, divides into the areas of Gueliz and Hivernage. Here you will find an array of civic buildings, international hotels, bars and restaurants typical of any modern European city.
El Badi Palace
El Badi Palace was built in the 16th century and reputed to have been one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. Originally there it had 360 rooms, a grand court yard and a pool which was 90 m x 20 m.
The Royal tombs of the Saadian dynasty are beautifully adorned with domed ceilings, intricate carvings and ornate plasterwork. This is a popular sight in Marrakech, so prepare to stand in line when going there.
At Jad Mahal you will find delightful drinks, a sumptuous setting, dancers and musicians. Enjoy a meal of their Moroccan, Thai and French fusion cuisine and dance the night away. This place is popular so it is recommended to book in advance.
Good to know
The main bus station is located at Bab Doukkala. From here buses to different cities around Morocco leave, but you also find local buses here. Almost all buses stop at Djemaa El-Fna and Place Youssef Ben Tachfine.
Increasingly 220 volts round two-pin plugs are becoming standard.