Do you like to travel to Marrakech and it’s your first time? So check out my Marrakech travel diary. I hope it will help you to enjoy Marrakech like we did.
To be honest, I’m not really that into site-seeing. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate culture. So on the second day we visited all the most beautiful sites of Marrakech. But if you also like to know what we did on our first day, check out the previous post HERE.
Here we go, my Marrakech travel diary of the second day starts now:
Stroll through the souks of Marrakech before 11:00 am is the best time of the day. I can highly recommended it because it wasn’t that warm and dusty, like in the evening, and you can enjoy the calmness before everywhere starts the craziness. Some of the little stores just start to clean up and open slowly their shops. The first thing they do, is to drink mint tea und hear some prayers or reading in the Koran I guess. There are less tourist, almost only local people. They go to work or doing also some shopping. Because they know when is right time.
After a really good moroccan breakfast in our Riad, we went through the Souks to the first sight, we would like to visit. It was the “Palais de la Bahia”. But on the way to the Palais we saw a wonderful tiny store full of teapots and tea glasses. We bought the typical moroccan silver teapot and suitable tea glasses. Because since our first day we fell in love with the moroccan mint tea. That’s why we would like to bring it at home. After the lamp; which we bought yesterday night, nit was another try to negotiate the price and again we only could beaten down half of the price. 🙄
Anyway, our purchase ensure us that we are aloud to take a picture of the owner of the teapot store. The old man was reading a big old book and it was a great photo opportunity. That’s why we asked him. You must know, the locals are really delicate to the photography. It may be, as soon as you take photographs without asking, they want a lot of money from you and make a big uprising. So you have to be careful!
After spending quite a bit of time in the Souks of the Medina, we left, after the crowds started to pour in, to the Bahia Palace with the promise of beautiful gardens, gorgeous architecture and beautiful mosaic tiles.
It was already crowdy, but not too much. So we could enjoy this place. The entrance fee was 10 Moroccan Dirham. It’s round about 0,90€. In my opinion, it’s quite cheap for this amazing example of fine Moroccan architecture and designs. If I’m certain of only one thing after this trip, it’s that Moroccans know damn great architecture.
Hidden in the midst of the Mellah quarter, the Medina and the Kasbah was the surprisingly deserted Bahia Palace whose gardens were built in the late 19th century. From what we were told, it was intended to be the greatest palace of that time and was built over a 15 year period by two different men in different stages.
First initiated by Si Moussa, who built the initial palace and was vizier to Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abd al Rahman and then by the son of Si Moussa Ba Ahmed, vizier of Sulton Moulay Abd al-Aziz.
Because it was built over such a long period of time by two different people, the layout is noted as irregular when compared with other palaces of its type. Despite that, the palace boasts a two acre garden, floor to ceiling tiles, and an intricate level of detail that pays homage to traditional Moroccan architectural styles done artisans and craftsmen brought in from Fes.
We didn’t spend a significant amount of time here, 2 hours is more than enough, but I would highly recommend to stop here while you explore Marrakech and take a guide, to know the whole history of this place.
Marrakech’s rich history includes a long period of Arab and Jewish communities accepting their differences and living and working together to bring success to their respective businesses. The Mellah refers to the area where the Jewish community resided. In cities all over Morocco, Mellahs flourished and became small cities within cities.
At its peak in the 1500s, the Mellah in Marrakech included bakers, jewelers, tailors, sugar traders, artisans, craft people, outdoor markets, fountains and synagogues.
Nowadays most of the Jewish presence is gone. There are only around 250 Jews remaining in Marrakech, but you can still see the shop fronts and large bazaars.
Still operational in the Mellah is the Lazama Synagogue which is open to the public.
Sadly, as with so many historical buildings, the El Badi Palace in Marrakech has not survived over the years. Its ruins are a cruel reminder of the destruction of war, and while walking through the ruins one is still able to get a sense of how magnificent the palace used to be.
Ahmad al-Mansur became the sultan of Morocco in 1578, during the reign of the Saadi dynasty. His rule lasted until his death in 1603. In celebration of their victory at the Battle of Three Kings, the El Badi Palace was commissioned and constructed began in 1578. It took approximately twenty-five years for the massive palace to be constructed, and the riches and decoration were so overwhelming that it took Alaouite Sultan Mawlay Ismail twelve years to destroy. Mawlay used the pieces from the El Badi Palace to create his own palace in Meknes, leaving just the shell of the palace behind, which has become a historical landmark in Marrakech.
In the Kasba quarter we took lunch directly in front the amazing minaret of the Mosque el Mansour. We found a really nice and good restaurant, called “Zeitoun Cafe”.
The food was so good. Lovely mixed salads, quinoa salad and goats cheese pastilla. Decent tagines, couscous and pastillas (rich savoury-sweet pie) are served up on the terrace alongside more adventurous options like tanjia de chameau, the cafe’s camel meat take on Marrakesh’s speciality dish. Everything very fresh and the mix of herbs and vegetables was delicious. Service was attentive yet relaxed and like-able. You have also a nice panoramic view to the street and the Mansour Mosque.
After the lunch we went to the Tomb of the Saadiens, which is next to the Mansour mosque. At this place you will find tombs of sixty members of the Saadia family belong to the era of Sultan Al Mansour. These tombs had been buried under earth and were excavated in 1917
Today it is a major attraction because of the beauty of their decoration. It’s definitely a must visit.
Saadien Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Ed Dahbi spared no expense on his tomb, importing Italian Carrara marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) with pure gold to make the Chamber of the 12 Pillars a suitably glorious mausoleum.
Al Mansour played favourites even in death, keeping alpha-male princes handy in the Chamber of the Three Niches, and relegating to garden plots some 170 chancellors and wives – though some trusted Jewish advisors earned pride of place, literally closer to the king’s heart than his wives or sons. All tombs are overshadowed by his mother’s mausoleum in the courtyard, carved with poetic, weathered blessings and vigilantly guarded by stray cats.
Al Mansour died in splendour in 1603, but a few decades later Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail walled up the Saadian Tombs to keep his predecessors out of sight and mind. Accessible only through a small passage in the Monsour mosque, the tombs were neglected by all except the storks, until aerial photography exposed them in 1917.
The entrance fee ia also 10 Moroccan Dirham and it’s daily open from 09:00 -16:45. You won’t need more than an hour to see and photograph everything. It’s a small yet beautiful location.
We went through this wonderful old archway next to the Mansour mosque and Daniell wanted a picture when a local went trough it. So we waited a bit and voila, he got his shot . As you can see below (but never open up your film camera without rewinding…) 🙄
Almost everywhere you will watch such a nice situations and photo opportunities, which you really would like to capture. But as I mentioned it before, be carful, respect the locals and ask nicely.
After a little break at our Riad and a needed fesh up we went for Dinner. On the way to the Restaurant, where we booked a table on the rooftop, we crossed a secondary square next to the Jaama el Fna square. This one wasn’t less crowdy then the other one. Maybe even more… 😆
Located at the small square ‘Rabha Qdima’ in the middle of the souk, is this a perfect place to enjoy dinner during the sunset. Either on the terrace, inside on the first floor or on the rooftop. Each spot offers a great view over the busy market.
Besides the food quality and service, interior is something that I find the most important when having lunch or dinner somewhere. I love how Café Des Epices makes you feel like you’re in Marrakech even more. The walls, the typical berber cushions and the furniture are a great combo.
So, if you want to end your day in the souk – don’t forget to try out the Tajine at Café Des Epices!
Highly recommend is the time when the sun is down and everybody is going to eat, even the locals, especially during the Ramadan (they hat ramadan when we were there). This is the best time to enjoy a kind of calmness and happiness in the Souks. Because everyone is happy and really celebrating the meal.
I loved to see how the locals celebrate and enjoy its meal. Because after a whole day without eating and drinking they appreciate it even more. It made me think about the meaning of Ramadan. Because somehow it seemed logical to me. Because we live in such abundance and plenty that we don’t really appreciate or feel anything anymore. When was the last time you had a real feeling of hunger (except when you regularly fast)? I think sometimes we should try to shut everything down and let us appreciate the small things in life, like eating and drinking. For Muslims, it isn’t just an exercise in fasting during the day and binge-eating at night, it’s much more of a spiritual detox. Fasting isn’t just about denying the body of food and water. It also includes the more difficult challenge of avoiding bad speech, arguing, loss of temperament, and malicious behavior. The whole purpose of fasting is to demonstrate submission to God and keep the mind focused on a spiritual level.
What are the benefits of Ramadan? Patience and mercy, which, let’s face it, we all need more of in these harried times. Ramadan is viewed as a month-long school where graduates leave with a developed sense of self-control.
In this sense I will end this post with a thought I have now in my mind (I don’t know why…)
Friendship is selfless love, care, respect and honor not a profitable opportunity.
So, lets be more like this!!!
(I hope my Marrakech travel diary has not become too long… 🙄 )
Have a wonderful and peaceful weekend,