The “Red Hamra” City of Marrakech was ranked as the sixth leading vacation destination by Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards for 2014. Marrakech has risen to the top of Trip Advisor’s sixth annual destination list just behind the Czech Republic, rising thirteen spots from 2013. This magical city is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, Berber villages, magnificent waterfalls and maintains it’s enchanting beauty with unique flora and fauna that is in full bloom year round.
Marrakech is two hours from Africa’s second highest Mountain, Djebel Toubkal, where Moroccan travelers can hike and ski during most seasons. Marrakech is also just a few hours from the seaside town of Essaouira, Imperial Rabat, Casablanca, and the Berber seacoast region of Agadir. Marrakech is located a few hours from the Cascades D’Ouzoud waterfalls and four hours from Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Ouarzazate region. With its prime location, Marrakech is the prefect city to visit on a private tour or for a sun holiday.
Marrakech has also been earmarked as the ideal vacation hub by major media outlets such as New York Times and Travel & Leisure. The city easily awes travelers with its temperate climate. Home to Muslim and Jewish Heritage historical sites, delightful Moroccan restaurants, up market well appointed accommodations and lush gardens, Marrakech has a reputation for being a city of romance and as well as a shoppers paradise.
Yves Saint Laurent must have felt the same. He made Marrakech his second home in the 1970’s, then purchased and restored the Jardin Majorelle in 1980, known today as the Majorelle Gardens. The Majorelle Gardens is a perfect rendition of an exotic garden with cactus, palm trees, bamboo, coconut palms, thujas, weeping willows, carob trees, jasmine, agaves, white water lilies, datura, cypress, bougainvilleas, and ferns. Majorelle was once a hidden gem yet today it has become the trendy place visited by most tourists who come to Marrakech. Moroccan travelers not only have the gardens to enjoy but also a charming book store with unique titles and prints, a colorful gift shop and a small green café. The Majorelle Gardens also lays claim to Morocco’s only Islamic & Berber Museum with an mini wing devoted Amazaigh Jewelry and traditional rural crafted pieces.
Marrakech has a history of attracting artists, writers, new world explorers and film makers – those in transit searching for place in Morocco to call home. As a temporary residence for many of the past, Marrakech’s La Mamounia is where Alfred Hitchcock “The Birds” and Winston Churchill had his own suite. Marrakech has been on the bucket list of the elite, hippies and government figures since the 18th Century. Turn the page and nothing’s quite changed yet.
Original Marrakechi folk came from the “Bled,” Arab and Berber villages – and remained in the medina for several centuries. Some of Morocco’s richest men and families once resided in the Marrakech medina that over time has become the most sought after medina in Morocco for business and pleasure alike.
Since 1995 Europeans and upwardly mobile Moroccans have aggressively restored and built elaborate, luxury Riads and modest Guest houses in the Marrakech medina to accommodate world travelers. Today the Marrakech medina, while popular among foreign travelers, has a large population of locals that still live there whose heritage dates back to the 16th Century and before.
The charm of Marrakech’s Ville Nouvelle (new town) Gueliz and Hivernage is long standing. With the click clack sound that runs along the alleys made by horse drawn carriages, the grand palm lined Avenue Mohammed VI reminiscent of the Champs Elysées in Paris, flower budding sides streets with cafes serving up espresso and croissants, some claim Marrakech is “Land of God.”
“Land of God” originates from the Berber (Amazigh) words mr (n) akush yet others say that the towns name refers to “county of sons of Kush.” Old Marrakech however set the stage for trade given it was once the siting of some of Morocco’s largest caravans. Caravans passed through Marrakech and the exterior region from the South trading dates, sugar, livestock and more.
For many the town of Marrakech may be referred to as the “Land of God” or the home of the “Laughing People” yet for those who have made this city their longtime home, we will simply settle on – “Kech.”