Place Jemaa el-Fna Marrakech  » Travel  »
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at the Southern end of Avenue Mohammed V, Marrakech, Morocco
  • The only way I can describe my experience over the next four days, when we spend each afternoon and evening in the area, was that it was a complete overload of every one of my senses
  • Nothing is free here, and even watching the shows will cost you

    • by Jessie Bahrey
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      It is an extremely difficult task to properly describe Place Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s ancient square which has been the heart of the city for centuries. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this symbol of old Morocco is truly like stepping hundreds of years back in time; with its markets, entertainment, kiosks and the surrounding souks, both locals and foreigners flock here every day and well into the night. My husband had warned me that Jemaa el-Fna would quite literally ‘blow my mind,’ and he did not exaggerate.

      As soon as we had settled into our hotel in Marrakech, we took a cab to the city centre near the souks, so we could the rest of the afternoon exploring the area. My husband had told me that after the souks close at nightfall, the square comes alive with live entertainment, so we


      planned to stay into the evening as well. The only way I can describe my experience over the next four days, when we spend each afternoon and evening in the area, was that it was a complete overload of every one of my senses. We explored the souks, which sold every imaginable item, like leather goods, Berber carpets, tajine dishes, art, clothing, food, spices and so much more. At the end of the long alleyways that wound their way through the souks, we always ended up in Jemaa el-Fna. During the heat of the afternoon, this square smelt of cooking meat and eight hundred years of dirt and dust. There are kiosks of freshly squeezed orange juice (the thousands of flies bathing in the orange juice is a turn-off), nuts and mint tea, and the crowds of people are a ...

      • mix of women in traditional dress and Arab berkas, men in Moroccan gowns and hats, and rich Europeans and Arabs in designer clothes. Everywhere, the colours are bright, and except for a few cafés along the perimeter of the square, there is nowhere to sit. It is so busy, that making your way around the square is tiring, especially with the heat and dust.

        At night, when the sun begins to go down, Jemaa el-Fna becomes even more crowded, as the entire area becomes an open-air show with musicians, snake charmers, monkey handlers, fortune tellers, dancers, boxing matches, and water-sellers. I would not recommend drinking the water. Hundreds of tables are set up, cooking and selling every conceivable type of food, and the smoke and the smell of meat being grilled fill the air. I was a bit startled at the

        sight of goat skulls at the goat’s head soup kiosk. One skill that you must learn while in the square at night is to say ‘Non, merci,’ very forcefully, or you will be inundated with merchants and entertainers constantly in your face. Another thing you must learn is not to pose with all the entertainers, as each one will expect a large tip, and some will even become agitated if the tip is not to their liking. Nothing is free here, and even watching the shows will cost you. Bring plenty of small bills or coins.

        Place Jemaa el-Fna can certainly be intimidating, but the experience is truly one that you will never forget. Even 3 years later, I can conjure up the sights, sounds and smells of the ancient square. It is a unique and fascinating window into another era.




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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in April, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 382304674950930/k2311a0423/4.23.09
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