Magical Morocco 2011
May 6th – 16th, 2011
 


Saturday, May 14th, Day 08: Marrakech

Marrakech – the very name bringing images of magic, mystery and intrigue to mind – has fascinated travelers for centuries. Absorb the flavor of Marrakech as you explore the souks of the medina. The setting of Marrakech itself is magnificent: the capital of the South with close proximity to the Sahara, it is dominated by the peaks of the magnificent Atlas Mountains. Marrakech will always draw parallels with Fes, the other great Moroccan imperial city. However, what really sets Marrakech apart is not so much its historical landmarks but rather its spectacular location and lively atmosphere. Unlike Fes, Marrakech is not suspended between past and present; it is more rooted in present while maintaining a strong bond to its distant past.

Marrakech, the capital of the south, is a very charming city and the one that has many of the loveliest gardens all over Morocco. While in Marrakech the visitor’s curiosity to discover more and more about this beautiful city never ceases.

We arrive at the Menara Gardens by horse drawn carriage - The Menara Garden was established in the 12th century as an orchard of palm, olive and fruit trees. It has a formal pool overlooked by a pavilion (minzah) previously used by the sultan and his family. The present pavilion dates from the nineteenth century but is believed to be on the site of an earlier (16th century) Saadian structure. An orchards, pools and pavilions are the primary components of Islamic gardens. The Menara Gardens are similar to the Agdal, but a lot smaller with just one central basin and more olive groves than orchards. Its central pool and summer pavilions with a good view over the Atlas Mountains are a familiar picture on many postcards and brochures. Orchards, olive groves, palms and roses, as well as Marrakech's most photographed landmark - the lake and pavilion, built in the mid 19th century by Sultan Adu r-Rahman, against the magnificent backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.

The olive trees here are ancient and Omari was telling us that they have suffered over the years from disease. What they do is cut the ‘mother’ tree down and all the new babies grow up from it. When they start bearing fruit, Omari our guide tells us ‘ the have dreamt’.

We saw camels in lots of places and most of them munching on green something…Omari said it grows like mint and it looked like mint but I haven’t a clue what it is..tried surfing but nothing that I could see. They all seem to love it.

Then it was off to Majorelle in our carriages and it was a lovely day for a ride. Indulge yourself in the cool, very-blue oasis of the Le Jardin Majorelle, the stunning gardens surrounding Villa Majorelle, home of the noted French painter, Jacques Majorelle. Over 400 species of plants and over 1,800 different types of cacti compete for your attention outdoors while beautiful artifacts of Moroccan crafts and culture await your discovery in the Museum of Islamic Art now housed in Villa Majorelle. The Majorelle Garden is a small, meticulously planned botanical garden just off Avenue Yacob al Mansour. Today, the Majorelle is maintained by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. It conveys both tranquillity and strong colour. The keynote colour on buildings, a vivid cobalt blue, offsets the multicoloured bougainvillea, pink geranium and orange nasturtiums. Musee A green-roofed garden pavilion, the former studio of Majorelle, is the Museum of Islamic Arts. It exhibits the personal collection of Yves Saint Laurent, including North African carpets, furniture and pottery, as well as Jacques Majorelle’s paintings and engravings of local scenes in Morocco. The garden was made in the 1920s with marble pools, raised pathways, banana trees, groves of bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvilleas. Perhaps unsurprisingly - the garden was designed by a painter yet composed and coloured like a painting. Many of the built features were painted in a dark blue ('Majorelle Blue') which works very well with the soil, climate and plants. In fact, Majorelle's garden rather than his paintings was his masterpiece. Water is an important feature of the garden - there are channels, lily-filled ponds and fountains. Majorelle was an avid plant collector. After years of neglect, the garden was then taken over and restored by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge.
http://www.jardinmajorelle.com/en/

Koutoubia Gardens - The Koutoubia is to Marrakech what the Statue of Liberty is to New York and the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Nearly seventy metres in height and visible for miles afar, the Koutoubia is a landmark that dominates the whole of Marrakech, rising from the lowrise buildings of the old town and the plains of the north. Originally built by the early Almohads, this is the oldest and most complete of three great Almohad towers – the other two are the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville. Koutoubia Mosque, the most perfect minaret in Morocco and a great piece of Almohad architecture. Built in the 12th Century.

Djemaa el Fna - a large open space full of entertainers and food sellers at the heart of the Medina. Truly an alive painting with arrays of food, snake charmers, music players, fortune tellers. The souks sell anything from local Berber rugs and jewelry to metalwork and household essentials and will tempt you to part with your money over a glass of mint tea! Yes, a typical Moroccan shopping experience. Haggling to get the best price becomes an art form, the traders do not hassle you and the experience is a complete pleasure.

Bahia Palace to put some charm on the visitor’s senses! Originally built in 1867 by Si Moussa, a grand vizier of Moulay Hassan, it was enlarged by his son Bou Ahmed, who added a mosque, a hammam and a garden. The Bahia Palace was recently restored to its former glory and splendour, although some work is still yet to be carried out. You enter the Palace through an arcade courtyard that leads to a small riad, beautifully decorated in cedarwood and carved stucco. In the riad itself, there are three adjoining salons leading through elaborate reception halls, pleasure gardens, living quarters and numerous secluded courtyards. You can only visit part of the Palace, as some of it is still used by the royal family. The Bahia palace and gardens were built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means 'brilliance'. As in other buildings of the period in other countries, it was intended to capture the essence of the nation’s style: Moroccan and Islamic. There is a 2 acre garden with rooms opening onto courtyards.

This evening we again enjoyed a bit of downtime to enjoy dinner on our own.

 

 

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row