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For many visitors, Marrakesh's labyrinth Medina (Old City) district is the town's star attraction. The narrow alleyways are a kaleidoscope of colors, scents and sounds, and bound to be the sightseeing highlight of your trip. As well as simply wandering (and getting lost) amid the bustling maze, there are myriad shopping opportunities where you can put your haggling hat on and barter to your heart's content. Shoppers shouldn't miss the Babouche (shoe) Souk, Chouari (carpenter's) Souk, El-Attarine (perfume and spice) Souk and the Cherratine (leather) Souk. Just west of the main souk area, at the end of Rue Bab Debbagh, you'll find Marrakesh's tanneries where animal skins are still dyed the old fashioned way.
This large square at the entry to the Medina is the centre of Marrakesh life. The Djemaa El Fna (assembly place of the nobodies) is a vibrant hub of bric-a-brac stalls, musicians, storytellers, fortune-tellers and snake charmers that never seems to rest. Here the entire spectrum of Moroccan life enfolds before you. If being down among the thrum becomes too much, it's also easy to escape to one of the many surrounding rooftop cafes and restaurants where you can survey the crazy scene from above.
The Koutoubia Mosque is Marrakesh's most famous landmark with its striking, 70 m tall minaret visible for miles in every direction. Local Marrakesh legend tells that when first built it, the muezzin (man who calls the faithful to pray) for this mosque had to be blind as the minaret was so tall that it overlooked the ruler's harem. The mosque was built in 1162 and is one of the great achievements of Almohad architecture. Non-Muslims are not allowed into the prayer hall.
Built in 1565 by the Saadians, the Medersa (madrassa - Islamic school of learning) of Ben Youssef is the largest theological college in Morocco. The warrens of rooms (with student cells which once were home to 900 pupils) are clustered around small internal courtyards in typical Islamic architecture style. The fine zellige tiling, stalactite ceilings and Kufic inscriptions used as decoration across much of the building interior are the highlights of a visit to this Medina attraction.
This 16th century burial ground is home to 66 members of the Saadian dynasty, which ruled over Marrakesh between 1524 and 1668. The tombs here include that of the ruler Al-Mansour, his successors and their closest family members. It's a rambling, atmospheric place with the mausoleums set amid a rather overgrown garden. In particular, the main mausoleum (where Moulay Yazid is buried) has a fine surviving mihrab (prayer niche).
This magnificent peacock of a palace was built in the 19th century as the residence of the Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed, who served Sultan Moulay al-Hassan I. The interior decoration is a dazzling display of zellige tiles, painted ceilings and ornate wrought-iron features showcasing the opulent lives of those high-up in the sultan's favour at that time. The palace is surrounded by sumptuous flower and tree-filled gardens.
This lovely old palace built by Vizier Si Said is home to a wonderful collection of Berber jewellery in finely worked silver, oil lamps from Taroudant, pottery artifacts, embroidered leather, and marble. There is also a display of Moroccan carpets and an amazing collection of traditional Moroccan door and window frames, which highlight this country's local architecture styles. For anyone interested in the evolution of North African art and crafts, it's a lovely place to potter about for a couple of hours.
The Marrakesh Museum has an eclectic collection, which ranges from contemporary art to Qur'anic inscriptions with local ceramic work, textiles and coins thrown in for good measure. For most visitors, the real highlight of a visit here is the building the museum is housed in. The Dar Me'nebhi was built in the early 20th century and was once home to a minister in Morocco's government. The architecture is a harmonious blend of local North African form with Portuguese elements, and features an extremely impressive central courtyard area complete with lavish chandelier.
Also known as the Koubba Ba'adiyn, the Almoravid Koubba is Marrakesh's oldest monument - built in the 12th century during Ali Ben Youssuf's reign. Although its original use is unknown, some experts have suggested that it may have been the ablution house of a mosque that once sat next door. Its simple exterior design (a squat, square building topped with a dome) belies an interesting interior, with a dome ceiling covered in Almoravid motifs. The koubba was one of the few buildings to survive the destruction wrecked on the city by Almohad conquerors who destroyed much of the earlier Almoravid architectural legacy.
These lush tropical gardens, full of cacti, palms and ferns, are the work of painter Jacques Majorelle. Originally from the town of Nancy in France, Majorelle came to Marrakesh for health reasons and became well known for his paintings of local Moroccan life. His most famous work though was this garden and the vibrant blue (the colour now known as Majorelle blue) painter's studio he lived in on the grounds. After Majorelle's death in 1962, French fashion designer Yves St Laurent bought the property and upon his death in 2008, his ashes were scattered in the gardens. A small pavilion on site has a small but interesting collection of Islamic art.