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12 Step Planet: Marrakech
Eamonn Seoige continues his tireless non-stop race around the globe with a voyage to sunny Marrakech.
Eamonn Seoige, 21 Sep 2012
What’s the nightlife like?
Marrakech can boast a bustling nightlife, even if it’s sometimes a little difficult to find! However, most visitors to the city aren’t banking on a banging party. The main night-time attraction is the vast open square of Djemaa El Fna, the busiest market in all of Africa. It’s like stepping back in time to the Middle Ages, with everything from traditional Berber musicians, storytellers, snake charmers and even dentists! The place comes alive once the sun goes down and is one of the most enchanting places you’re ever likely to visit. On the total flipside, Marrakech can also boast some seriously high-end clubs. Pacha, the superclub of Ibiza fame, has a sister venue on the outskirts of the city that brings new meaning to the word ‘bling’. However, unless you’ve a gold card burning a hole in your back pocket, give it a wide berth. Best leave the clubbing for elsewhere; Marrakech has much more to offer than over-priced cocktails and vacuous hordes of the beautiful people...
Why should I go?
Marrakech is only a few hours away by plane, but its ancient Medina is a world away from the urban concrete jungles of the west. Everywhere there is colour, fantastic sights, good-natured people and fabulous food. The city is steeped in history and was once a key strategic trading point between the Mediterranean and the vast desert lands that lie just beyond the nearby Atlas Mountains. You won’t be disappointed.
What are the touristy things to do?
There’s a lot to see, so get walking! Experiencing the chaotic clamour and excitement of the vast market area of Djemaa El Fna is a must. It’s a time-warp, a place inhabited by snake charmers, storytellers, traditional musicians and healers. The windy labyrinths of covered markets that dot the town are known locally as souks and the array of goods on display is mind-boggling! If you’ve an eye for a bargain, you’ve come to the right place! The old city ramparts offer great views of the metropolis below and the faint silhouette of the Atlas Mountains looming in the background. Palais Dar Si Said is a breathtaking example of the decadence of Marrakech’s earliest rulers, while the El Bahia Palace has some of the finest intact examples of classic Moroccan architecture, including ornate arches and open courtyards. The tallest building in the city is the Koutoubia minaret. Its imposing structure, standing seventy metres high, can be seen for miles. The Majorelle Gardens, built in the ‘20s by French artists Jacques and Louis Majorelle. is a magical place. It’s an oasis of calm, a place to unwind after an afternoon’s haggling in the souks.