These days it’s prized as much for its trendy art galleries, cool hotels and elegant hammams. Offering a tantalising taste of Africa within easy reach of Europe, it certainly lives up to the hype, and not only thanks to its fabled historical medina.
It’s to the medina, nevertheless, that most visitors will gravitate. Its dim, narrow alleyways are packed with artisan workshops, shrines and markets that are sprawling, and riads. These traditional courtyard guesthouses vary from palatial oases to smaller, more intimate affairs.
The medina is the miracle–a happy conflict of new and old, in turn confounding and beguiling in Marrakesh. Essentially unchanged since the Middle Ages, Marrakesh’s solid, salmon pink ramparts encircle and protect concealing palaces, its mysterious labyrinthine medina, mansions, and bazaars. Among an endless run of mopeds, donkey carts, and wheelbarrows selling a combination of saucepans and sticky sweets pedestrians struggle to discover their balance on the tiny cobbled lanes. But pick your jaw up, take your time, and take it all in, stewing like a mint leaf in a pewter teapot in the Rose City.