Marrakesh (مراكش in Arabic). Pearl of the South, Jewel of the South, The Rose City -- just a few of the nicknames Marrakech has acquired over the years. The pearl and the jewel symbolize its importance as the center of Morocco ever since it was a trading and resting place on the crossroads of ancient caravan routes from Timbuktu.
Marrakesh is the city that reminds us of the Morocco of yesteryear. Sitting to the south of the Atlas Mountains, you will find streets too small for the introduction of automobiles, and tourists searching for the 'real' Morocco come here. The tremendous tourism has not managed to change this old city.
Most of the inhabitants of Marrakesh are of Berber origin and was the capital of Morocco until the reign of Moulay Ismail in 1672 who tore the city to ruins. Today, Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and struggles to retain its old world charm and entertain the tourism that keeps the city alive.
Today, you will find an endless maze of souks where you can buy just about anything of interest. The largest souk in all of Morocco can be found right here and it is said the best leather in the world can be purchased in Marrakech.
A couple of places not to miss are the Djemaa el Fna where in the evening this sleepy market comes to life with the sounds of musicians and bands of acrobats. Snake-charmers will entice you and story-tellers will entwine you with stories. Pickpockets will be hard at work as well so hold tight to your wallet and watch your pockets!
The Ali ben Youssef Mosque is the oldest in Marrakech and after the Koutoubia, the largest. Its archetecture and style have changed since it was built in the 12th century, but this mosque gives the feel of Morocco of yesteryear.
Towering an impressive 230 feet in the air, the Koutoubia Minaret can be seen from fourteen miles away and is the focus of the city upon approach to the city. Built in the late 12th century, much of its archetecture has become the staple for what would become "Moroccan" architecture.