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It's not Morocco's capital, and not nearly the country's most populous city. But nevertheless, Marrakech has been capturing the hearts and minds of travellers since the dawn of Moroccan tourism. The hub of inspiration for Yves Saint Laurent, the city's vibrant traditions and ancient rituals captivate like no place on earth. Visitors will be welcomed into a world both cultured and indulgent, ambling around a 700-year old Islamic college at one moment, then being vigorously scrubbed and lathered in precious oils at a hammam spa the next. Shopping addicts will find no shortage of fulfilment, pouring over masses of silver jewellery, hand-woven rugs and leather goods. Then it's on to the leather tanneries for an eye-opening look at the making of bags and shoes, before indulging in a couscous tajine to top it all off. Meanwhile the Ben Youssef Madrasa will leave you wishing you went to college in 14th century Morocco, and the Marrakech Museum and El Badi Palace will ensure you're completely and utterly hooked on Moroccan aesthetics and architecture. Those inclined to rub shoulders with the country's elite should visit during the Marrakech International Film Festival or Marrakech Biennale, when the red carpets and creatives of the city come out. Of course, there's one last activity to sign up for when all the museums have been ticked and the madness of the medina has gotten a bit much: watch the sun rise to a distant Sahara Desert from a hot-air balloon. Now your time in Marrakech is truly complete.
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