Choukran, Marrakesh (Thank you, Marrakesh) – Part 2

[continuing from here]

Moving south from Djema el Fna square, the Royal part of Marrakesh begins…

Medersa Ben Youssef - Student's residence. Photo by Marco Massarotto, click for full credits.

…the area surrounding “la grand place” and the southern part of the Medina are a small portion of Marrakesh full with historical monuments. The first is the Medersa Ben Youssef, the Islamic College of Marrakesh. It’s a magnificent palace that enlightens the visitors about the religious practice in Muslim countries. Imagine a cloister, a convent, a monastery. Narrow corridors, small patios and microscopic cells. Getting close to god or allah appears to be a matter of social isolation through all religions.

Medersa Ben Youssef - Two cells - Photo by Marco Massarotto, click for full credits.

Definitely a wider space is Palace El Badi, south of Djema el Fna. The magnificent 360 rooms palace is now a bunch of ruins, nonetheless its grandiosity appears still intact although instead of princes it’s now inhabited by storks. In the surrounding areas it’s worth spending some time visiting the Saadian Tombs and the more recent (19th century) Bahia Palace. The Royal Palace is not accessible, but behind the huge walls a little eden must be there for those who can enter. Around the Bahia Palace and the Royal palace (Kasbah) local markets are worth a visit.

Palazzo El Badi - Grandangolo Photo by Marco Massarotto, click for full credits

Just by the side of the Saadian tombs is La Sultana Hotel & Spa: a high end resort with a magnificent modern hammam and spa. For luxury travellers I think La Sultana is a worthy alternative to La Mamounia and its Spa is definitely worth a Hammam with Gommage (scrub) and a four hands massage. You will feel a Sultan. Let’s head back to Djema el Fna and the adjacent Koutoubia Mosque: it’s time to leave the Medina’s dust and get to know the 21st century face of Marrakesh…

Mosque Koutubia - View - Photo by Marco Massarotto, click for full credits

Leaving the Medina for Gueliz, in the Nouvelle Ville (the new city) a much less official, but definitely more fashionable “temple” is Jardin Majorelle. The villa and Jardin were the retreat and now is the mausoleum of the Franco-Algerian fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, where he lived with his gay lover Pierre Bergé and where YSL now rests in peace, his ashes scattered in the romantically beautiful garden.

Jardin Majorelle - The Villa - Photo by Marco Massarotto click for full credits

After a refreshing stay in the shadows of Majorelle gardens you can have some refreshments in Guelìz. I had the best fried fish ever at Samak Al Bahriya (Map), a place just for locals where with 3 €/USD you can have a large portion of super fresh fried fish. They dont even bring you the fork because everybody eats with his hands here, so: dig in! A more sweet and refined spot is 2 streets north in Rue Libertè, 11: Al Jawda Pastry Shop. Here you can find all the traditional Moroccan sweets at their best, Al Jawda is an excellent place also for a present, as most shops in the street. Just a few steps away one of the world’s most charming Hotels awaits us…

Fried Fish at Al Bahryia

Read Choukran, Marrakesh (Thank you, Marrakesh) – Part 1

Watch all the pictures on flickr

Read The Marrakesh tips post / (COMING SOON)

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