The Kasbah of Marrakesh is located less than a kilometre from the heart of the city, the Jamaa el Fna square. Flanked by the 12th-century ramparts ordered by Ali Ben Yusuf, which were extended during the Almohad and Saadi periods, its monuments reflect the former splendour of the imperial city. At the same time, it’s worth strolling through its streets and experiencing the daily hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood, which is rather chaotically busy, with pedestrians, cars, and horse-drawn carriages weaving in and out of the vegetable and fish stalls as best they can.
If you decide to visit the neighbourhood, there’s no better way to enter it than through Bab Agnaou, since this gate, erected in the 12th century, is the most beautiful of the 19 gates along the walls of Marrakesh. Despite the fact that its design seems rather simple at first sight, the gateway is remarkable for its elaborate ornamentation, ranging from Qur’anic inscriptions to floral and geometric patterns that decorate both the spandrels of the arch and the friezes that surround it.
A few hundred metres away is the Kasbah Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Moulay Al-Jazid, the Mosque of the Palace or the Mosque of the Golden Apples, which, together with the Kutubia Mosque, is one of the largest religious buildings in Marrakesh. Although it was built at the end of the 12th century, during the Almohad period, its present-day appearance is the result of a reconstruction carried out in the 16th century, due to damage caused after an explosion at a nearby gunpowder store, as well as a number of alterations carried out during the 18th century. Unfortunately, only Muslim worshippers are allowed to go inside. However, those who aren’t Muslim can always take pleasure in the decoration of the minaret, whose walls are covered with sebka patterns and friezes of white and green tiles.
Similarly, anybody can visit the Sa’didi Tombs, one of the most impressive monuments in the city, located in the garden adjacent to the temple. The most prominent rulers of the Saadi dynasty, as well as around 100 warriors and servants, are buried in this tomb complex. Its Hall of Twelve Columns is a must on your visit to Marrakesh, and it’s worth going to the Kasbah just to appreciate the beauty of the stucco that covers its walls and the muqarnas hanging in the intrados of its arches.
Lastly, at the north-eastern end of the neighbourhood, you’ll find the ruins of the El Badi Palace, which, despite the efforts of the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail to erase it from history, still gives us an idea of its former grandeur. This palace complex, which according to historical accounts was influenced by the Alhambra in Granada, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has impressed all who have visited it, with no less than 360 rooms.
Like a spider’s web, the narrow streets of the souk of Marrakesh will trap you in a world of aromas and different shades of colour.
Moroccan cuisine is brimming with ingredients, flavour combinations, cooking techniques and variation, and spices play a key role.
Anyone who likes a spot of shopping will fall head over heels for Morocco’s souks, a pleasure for the senses offering a wealth of options.