Marrakech is one of Morocco’s most popular destinations. But it is not the capital city – that honour goes to Rabat. It is also not the largest city, that’s Casablanca. Nor is Marrakech the oldest city in Morocco, that award goes to Fes. But it is without a doubt the most interesting. The city is packed with bustling souks, ornate palaces and cultural gems. In this article, we’ll share 10 interesting facts about Marrakech with you. And we guarantee they’ll have you itching to visit the city.
1) Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. The other three are Fes, Rabat and Meknes. At some point in history, all four have been named capital of Morocco. As mentioned, that title goes to Rabat in the present day.
The beating heart of the city
2) Djemaa el Fna is the main square in Marrakech. It is also the busiest market in Africa, attracting millions of visitors every year. The square reminds visitors of the famous Disney movie “Aladdin”. Home to snake charmers, fortune tellers, dancers and all manner of merchants, it is quite the experience to visit.
3) Marrakech and Morocco may seem like different worlds to our British readers. But the two countries are on exactly the same time zone, GMT +1. Marrakech is around 2,600km or a 7 hour flight virtually straight down from London.
4) Morocco and France have a long entwined history. Morocco only gained independence from the country in 1956 and French remains a widely spoken language across Morocco. Marrakech is also home to many French celebrities, including rapper Gims, politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn and fashion designer Serge Lutens.
Winston Churchill understood the allure of Marrakech
5) Winston Churchill also loved Morocco and the former British prime minster is involved with one of the most interesting facts about Marrakech. After the 1943 Casablanca Conference held during the Second World War, Churchill insisted that US President Franklin D Roosevelt accompany him to Marrakech for some sightseeing. He famously told the US President that “You cannot come all the way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech”. It was during this trip that Churchill, a keen artist, painted Tower of Koutoubia Mosque. It was the only artwork he painted during the war and was recently sold by actress Angelina Jolie for a huge $11.5 million.
6) Marrakech’s 11th century medina was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 thanks to its “impressive number of masterpieces of architecture and art”. Some examples include the Bahia Palace and Koutoubia Mosque. But there are many more to discover once you’ve arrived.
7) One of the first things you’ll notice about Marrakech is the number of cats which roam the city. Most of these are stray, but they tend to be well fed by locals and tourists alike. Many even live in local shops.
What to eat
8) The signature dish of Marrakech is tangia, which is not to be confused with the similar sounding tagine. Slow-cooked lamb is placed in a clay urn with lemon, garlic and saffron and then cooked in charcoal until tender.
9) Another thing Marrakech is known for is palm trees. They are found throughout the city and it is illegal to chop them down. This means you can see palm trees in some strange places, such as in the middle of highways.
10) Marrakech is nicknamed “The Red City” thanks to the pinkish red colour of its walls and ramparts. These were made from clay and chalk, which are still commonly used as building materials throughout the city.
As you can see from our facts about Marrakech, the city offers a kaleidoscope of experiences to adventurous travellers. Ancient architecture, a rich culture, delicious food and lively souks all enchant travellers. But there’s more to Morocco than just Marrakech. Fes, Chefchaouen, Essaouira and Ait Benhaddou are just some of the other incredible attractions to find in the country. So, how would you like to visit?
If you’ve found our facts about Marrakech interesting and would like to visit for yourself then why not take a look at our range of Morocco tours? We offer a variety of group and private tours.