Marrakech lies at the foot of the giant Atlas Mountains and is just as Fes, Meknes and Rabat, a royal city, and together with Fes, the competitor was founded 250 years earlier, the historic heart of Morocco. The country owes its name to this city (Marrakush in Arabic). The location is ideal amongst the mid-Atlantic and the Sahara. This strategic position explains why the city for several centuries, could play a dominant role and was regarded as the southern capital of Morocco. The conqueror Almoravische Yousseg am Tachfine Marrakech founded the city circa 1070.
In Marrakech, the atmosphere, the colours and the climate make it clear that the desert is not far away. A legend says that when it cleared the Koutoubia Mosque in the heart of the city, it was bleeding so fiercely that all the walls of the houses turned red in colour. This is the most famous religious building of the Almohads. Its construction began in 1158 under Sultan Abd el-Moumen, and it was completed by his grandson Yacoub el –Mansour (1184-1199). The mosque has seventeen ships and a length parallel to the kibla (prayer direction). The restrained, with its Romanesque style similar stone ornamentation on the exterior of the minaret leaves no suspicions as to its beautiful interior, particularly that of the mihrab (prayer niche). The minaret (tower) was the model for the Giralda in Seville and the Hassan Tower in Rabat.
In the heart of the city lies the famous Jemaa el Fna, a center full of entertainment for both tourists and Marrakchis, especially after sunset. Behind it lies the medina, a maze of alleys and souks, surrounded by thick walls of mud brick. It is one of the most unique venues in the world. By day it is a sleepy gateway to the souks. By night, the show starts, when locals and visitors gather to listen to old tales of storytellers. This outdoor theatre, with its surrounding restaurants is a unique place, so unique that UNESCO gave it a new catergory. It is now the first ‘Immaterial Heritage of Humanity’.
Historic Marrakech (half day):
Visit to the famous Koutoubia mosque with its superb foto’s. This mosque with the seventy metre high minaret (tower) is completely decorated in a Moorish style. Thereafter, the Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs and the Dar Si Said Museum can be visited. Finally, you can, while enjoying a glass of Moroccan mint tea, walk and watch the local tradespeople make brass ornaments and carpets, all done by hand.
The gardens of Marrakech (half day):
During this excursion you will visit a number of beautifully landscaped gardens, including garden Majorelle, the Menara pavilion in the 88-acre olive grove, and Agdal gardens.
Visit the souks of Marrakech (half day)
Behind the famous Jemaa El Fna are the souks of Marrakech. These souks are a feast for the senses, the maze of streets and alleys with the mixture of people, the variety of merchandise, the colors, the smells and the play of light and shadow through the roof is a truly magnificent experience. In the small alleys, artisans make and sell their products in their small workshops.
Valley of Ourika (day trip)
Tour through the beautiful High Atlas Mountains to the beautiful valley of Ourika, a jewel of a valley where many small Berber villages are located. Here you can visit a Berber market which is frequented by locals, and then you can stroll along the banks of the Oued OURIKA (Ourika river).