Spotlight on Jemaa el-Fna, the heart of Marrakech
Marrakech is all that is awe inspiring and Jemaa el-Fna square is no exception.
Named as the heart of the city’s medina, Jemaa el-Fna square is situated in the old city and has been used as a street theatre or hoopla since 1050 AD. Its name is said to mean ‘Assembly of the Dead’ or ‘Place of the Vanished Mosque’ but the true meaning is unknown. Open 7 days a week, 8am-midnight – a quiet, beautiful marketplace by morning turns into a carnival of culture and colour at dusk. The day starts with strolling water and orange juice sellers and countless snake charmers. However, late afternoon through into the evening is when the square really awakens turning into a bustle of unmissable food stalls, henna artists, monkey handlers, dancers, storytellers, magicians, acrobats, healers and tooth pullers. Take your time and soak it all in, but have your cameras at the ready as the sun sets in a kaleidoscope of colour and the call to prayer radiates over the marketplace.
With hidden entrances, a maze of alleyways and small streets Jemma el-Fna square fills with the pulse of the city. With so much to see and do, grab yourself a famous orange juice, some legendary street food and take in all the entertainment Marrakech has on offer. The buzz too much? Make your way up to the rooftop terraces filled with cafes (Café Glacier comes highly recommended) that look over the square – where people watching becomes a view of its own.
The east section of Jemaa el-Fna is reserved for the Souk Ableuh. Filled to the brim with carpets, tourist trinkets, spices, metal and wood work, there is something for everyone. Remember haggling is expected – we recommend starting at the price you deem appropriate and working your way up to a fair price.
On a more serious note, leave your watches, money belts and wads of cash at the hotel, sticking only to carrying the essentials. Although this marketplace is safe, pick pocketers can come out to play, so be aware of your surroundings.
Prepare yourself, and get ready to be transported into the unworldly wonder of Marrakech.