Most travellers come to Marrakech hoping to find exotic-looking people, ornate palaces and treasure-filled souks. They want to take a magic carpet ride into the world of the Arabian Nights - and to be able to buy the carpet afterwards. Amazingly, Marrakech manages to live up to this fantasy.
The magic of Marrakech has a lot to do with its setting. It lies at the foot of the High Atlas, on an ancient trade route through the Sahara. You can feel the energy of Africa in the Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech's main square. For almost a thousand years the square has played host to a nightly carnival of singers, tumblers, sorcerers, herbalists, story-tellers and snake charmers. Overlooking this vast open-air show is the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, the highest and most beautiful building in the city.
Then there are the souks. You can wander down miles of labyrinthine passageways, illuminated by shafts of sunlight, watching cloth dyers, wood carvers, jewellery-makers, leather workers and blacksmiths at work. There are temptations on all sides; Touareg jewellery, trilobites, spices, apothecarist’s potions, colonial bric-à-brac, colourful slippers, silk tassels, hanging lanterns, leather bags, wicker baskets and yes, carpets, in every design and colour.
"Exotic-looking people, ornate palaces and souks straight out of Aladdin’s Cave!"