Marrakech: What to See
Yes, Marrakech has endless shopping, flavorful food, and cosseting hotels, but these five sites provide a quick initiation into the more historic side of this centuries-old city.
Bahia Palace: This rambling, 19th-century royal complex of intricately carved wood and plaster, hand-painted ceilings, and detailed mosaics treats visitors to the pinnacle of Moroccan design.
Ben Youssef Medersa: While the city’s mosques are closed to non-Muslims, this 16th-century Koranic school remains open to visitors. View its opulent adornments firsthand, from the white marble-and-mosaic-lined courtyard to the prayer hall topped by a pyramidal cedar ceiling.
Jemaa el Fna Square: This plaza at the Medina’s center can feel like the crossroads of the world, filled by a morning food market, followed by storytellers and snake charmers, musicians, performing animals, and more. It reaches peak capacity at dusk, as food stalls set up shop and the smells of Moroccan cuisine fill the air.
Majorelle Garden: Designed and built by French artist Jacques Majorelle, this gorgeous oasis in Gueliz came under the stewardship of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in 1980, and then under his foundation after his death in 2008. In 2011, a fascinating museum devoted to the artisanship of the Berber people reopened in the gardens’ Deco-style pavilion.
Saadian Tombs: Sealed off from the city for centuries, after the dynasty that built them fell, these royal mausoleums represent some of Morocco’s best Islamic architecture.