Marrakesh, also known by the French spelling Marrakech, is a major city of the Kingdom of Morocco. It is the fourth largest city in the country, after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. It is located to the north of the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains
Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls bordered by modern neighbourhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination. Tourism is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, with the goal of doubling the number of tourists visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020.
Climate
A hot semi-arid climate predominates at Marrakesh. Average temperatures range from 12 °C in the winter to 26–30 °C in the summer. The relatively wet winter and dry summer precipitation pattern of Marrakesh mirrors precipitation patterns found in Mediterranean climates. However, the city receives less rain than is typically found in a Mediterranean climate, resulting in a semi-arid climate classification
Economy
Marrakesh is a vital component to the economy and culture of Morocco. Improvements to the highways from Marrakesh to Casablanca, Agadir and the local airport have led to a dramatic increase in tourism in the city, which now attracts over two million tourists annually. Because of the importance of tourism to Morocco’s economy, King Mohammed VI has vowed to attract 20 million tourists a year to Morocco by 2020, doubling the number of tourists from 2012.
Trade and crafts are extremely important to the local tourism-fueled economy.
Landmarks
Jemaa el-Fnaa
The Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the best-known squares in Africa and is the centre of city activity and trade. It has been described as a “world-famous square”, “a metaphorical urban icon, a bridge between the past and the present, the place where Moroccan tradition encounters modernity.” Today the square attracts people from a diversity of social and ethnic backgrounds and tourists from all around the world. Snake charmers, acrobats, magicians, mystics, musicians, monkey trainers, herb sellers, story-tellers, dentists, pickpockets, and entertainers in medieval garb still populate the square.
Souks
Marrakesh has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and the image of the city is closely associated with its souks. Paul Sullivan cites the souks as the principal shopping attraction in the city: “A honeycomb of intricately connected alleyways, this fundamental section of the old city is a micro-medina in itself, comprising a dizzying number of stalls and shops that range from itsy kiosks no bigger than an elf’s wardrobe to scruffy store-fronts that morph into glittering Aladdin’s Caves once you’re inside.” Historically the souks of Marrakesh were divided into retail areas for particular goods such as leather, carpets, metalwork and pottery. These divisions still roughly exist but with significant overlap. Many of the souks sell items like carpets and rugs, traditional Muslim attire, leather bags, and lanterns. Haggling is still a very important part of trade in the souks.
City walls and gates
The ramparts of Marrakesh, which stretch for some 19 kilometres around the medina of the city, were built by the Almoravids in the 12th century as protective fortifications. The walls are made of a distinct orange-red clay and chalk, giving the city its nickname as the “red city”; they stand up to 19 feet high and have 20 gates and 200 towers along them. Bab Agnaou was built in the 12th century during the Almohad dynasty. The Berber name Agnaou, like Gnaoua, refers to people of Sub-Saharan African origin .This ornamentation is framed by three panels marked with an inscription from the Quran in Maghrebi script using foliated Kufic letters, which were also used in Al-Andalus. Bab Agnaou was renovated and its opening reduced in size during the rule of sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah. Bab Aghmat is located east of the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries, and is near the tomb of Ali ibn Yusuf.
Palaces and Riads
The historic wealth of the city is manifested in palaces, mansions and other lavish residences. The main palaces are El Badi Palace, the Royal Palace and Bahia Palace. Riads (Moroccan mansions) are common in Marrakesh. Based on the design of the Roman villa, they are characterized by an open central garden courtyard surrounded by high walls. This construction provided the occupants with privacy and lowered the temperature within the building.