The largest city in the North African country of Morocco, Marrakesh is a spirited and fascinating place to learn more about Arab culture and the desert. Architecturally, the city is impressive, with one of the finest historic medinas, or old walled cities, in North Africa. When you arrive in Marrakesh, the first place to visit is Jemaa el-Fna, the bustling central plaza and the heart of the city. Surrounded by cafes and filled with vendors, jugglers, and snake charmers, Jemaa el-Fna is constantly bustling with life and energy.
From the Jemaa el-Fna, wander through the surrounding markets, or souks, where traditional crafts, textiles, food, spices, and perfumes are for sale along the narrow alleyways. As any visitor can tell you, shopping is one of the greatest pleasures in Marrakesh. In addition to the souks, you can shop in one of Marrakesh's plethora of craft boutiques and furniture stores, which carry unique and well made traditional work, from table lamps and chandeliers to instruments and carpets. There are also wonderful boutiques features clothing and silver jewelry.
While the city is filled with action, Marrakesh also offers plenty of opportunities to relax. When you want a break from the noise and bustle of Marrakesh, book a massage in one of Marrakesh's many wonderful day spas. For peace and quiet, take a day trip to the Ourika Valley, a beautiful vacation spot in the High Atlas Mountains outside the city.
The city of Marrakesh is a sight in itself, but there are some places that are particularly worth seeking out, including:
-Koutoubia Mosque: Visit this impressive mosque by the Almohad dynasty of the 16th century, located just beside Jemaa el-Fna.
-Ali ben Youssef Medersa: Be sure to pay a visit to this gorgeous 16th century Islamic school, elaborately decorated with intricate stucco designs and mosaic.
-Saadian Tombs: The remains of 16th and 17th century sultans are buried in these intricately decorated tombs.
-Jardin Majorelle: Designed by a former English resident of Marrakesh, these gardens provide a pleasing respite and also contain an interesting museum of traditional Moroccan craft.
-Bahia Palace: Marvel at the elaborate Moroccan architecture and ornate interiors of this 19th century palace.
-Ben Youssef Medersa: This perfectly preserved former boarding school and adjoining mosque are a jewel from the Saadian dynasty of the 16th century.
Treat yourself to a relaxing trip to Marrakesh with a vacation rental near the city center. You can take a break from the bustle of the city by staying in a riad, or traditional house. Riads often feature large private patios and terraces with views of the city.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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