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Marrakech, the best city in the world

Update: January, 14/2018 - 09:00
Traditional: Two artists playing gnaoua music at Dar Moha restaurant in the medina.
Viet Nam News

by Hồng Nga

Marrakech is a fairy tale city located in the centre of  the Kingdom of Morocco, between the sea and the Sahara Desert. It is the capital of the region Marrakech-Safi, known for its red sandstone that gives the city its nickname of “Ochre city”. It has also been described by TripAdviser as "the best city in the world".

Marrakech is also known for the green of its palm trees and luxurious parks, blue, clear skies and the clip-clop of horses leading to the medina (old city). Sounds and colours made sense of this mythical city. The cultural capital of Morocco, it is a moving experience.

Marrakech was founded in the 11th century and has been controlled by a total of five dynasties. It is divided into an historical city in a 10km enclosure and a new city. Most of the famous landmarks are located inside the old city. La Koutoubia, Jemaa el Fna Palace and La Ménara are all the symbols of Marrakech.

Marrakech is Morocco’s most memorable experience. It contains an impressive number of architectural masterpieces, such as mosques, ramparts and monumental gates. There are many structures that could justify recognition as being of Outstanding Universal Value, said UNESCO in its recognition of the “Ochre city” as World Heritage in 1985.

The Jemaa el-Fna Square, the heart of the city, is famous for its spaciousness and its atmosphere. It is a pedestrian space for meetings and shows, with stalls and shops to eat and drink.

Dancing reptiles: Snake charmers can easily be found on Marrakech streets.

The Ménara Park is a magical place to chill out. There, a huge pavilion was built in the 19th century in an artificial lake inside a wide olive park.

To understand how amazing the Marrakech crafts are, tour a souk. Souks (market) in Marrakesh are famous for their beauty, scale, diversity and good living. Everything can be found, from leather goods, babouches, carpets and pottery to spices, jewelry, brassware and clothing.

Bezzari Jad, born in 1964 in Marrakech, has been selling Moroccan spices in Loghzal Rahba Lakdima souk since 1980. His shop includes medicinal plants, pigments, natural soaps, massage creams, and essential oils.

“The sales vary day by day, but it’s growing, generally. Sometimes, I gain 1.000 dirhams (almost 90 euros) a day,” he said. This is enough to look after a family of six people.

“Marrakech is so different compared to other destinations in Morocco. It is the only city in the country with such a variety of  products,” said Fadwa Chbani Idrissi, regional delegate of tourism in Marrakech.

It is a city of excellence in terms of convention tourism, leisure, golf, medical treatment and beach resorts. It is also a place to discover lakes, mountains filled with ancient people who look more European than African.

Tourism fills a huge part of the economy in Marrakech with 175.000 employees. The city has 65,000 beds, 230 hotels, 12 golf courses, 12 museums and many restaurants with an amazing gastronomy. About two million people a year visit the city.

But, there is a special kind of accommodation in Marrakech: the guest house inside a medina, a distinct city section found in a number of North African and Maltese cities. A medina is typically walled, with many narrow and maze-like streets. The word "medina" simply means "city" or "town" in modern-day Arabic.

Earthy: Ochre is the color of Marrakech, the imperial city and the historic heart of Morocco. VNS Photos Hồng Nga

“We have now 1.300 qualified houses. These are all old house that have been restored faithfully to original designs. Their ratings are good, and sometimes better than ordinary hotels.

Marrakech has won many awards in recent years, such as best site to visit and best destination in Africa. Several years ago, TripAdvisor ranked Marrakech as the best city in the world, above Paris, Rome and Istanbul. VNS

Worth living in

Aouatif Berdai, deputy mayor as well as delegate in charge of international relations and decentralised cooperation of the Communal Council of Marrakech city, said many initiatives and projects had been implemented to protect the environment.

The large city of Marrakech serves as an economic ’locomotive’ of Morocco, especially as a main tourist centre. And we give a lot of attention to it. We really want to make this city one worth living in.

She said concerted efforts were being made to“indicate that this city is turning over a new leaf towards sustainable development”.

Ahmed Akhchichine, president of the Regional Tourism Council Marrakesh-Safi, said that one of the priorities during his mandate (2015-2021) is to reduce development gaps between territories. He said that when rural people could have the access to basic services, they can reintegrate easily into the economic system and create wealth.

Marrakesh-Safi stands third in Morocco for wealth generation after Casablanca and Rabat.

 

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