Mastering the medina in Marrakech is an art form. The secret is Heraclitus’ “panta rhei”; let yourself go, swim with the flow instead of against the stream, immerse yourself and let the river of people wash you through the maze. Eventually you will end up at la place—the sinkhole the entire medina appears to be circulating around. Embrace the unique opportunity of getting lost, and focus not on maps but the Red City’s true beauties.
Pictured above, one of many spice merchants in the souk, Morocco’s largest traditional market.
The souk opens onto Jemaa el-Fna, or simply la place, one of Africa’s busiest squares.
The origin of the square’s name is unclear, some sources say it translates as “Assembly of the Dead”, as it was the site of public executions as far back as the 12th century.
Used as a bus station until 2000, the place is officially closed to vehicle traffic.
Today Jemaa el-Fna is the bustling center of Marrakech, frequented by both locals and tourists.
Hundreds of stands, stalls and cafés surround the square.
Snake charmers, acrobats, story tellers, dancers and musicians entertain the crowds.
Have a glass of fresh orange juice at one of the many stalls and try it with a dash of salt as the locals do.
As the sun sets, smoke rises from the food stalls, turning the square into a huge busy open-air restaurant.
“You have seen nothing of this world, if you haven’t seen Djemâa El Fna” – Abderahim Al-Maquori, Moroccan poet.
Read more on Marrakech:
City Travel Guide: Marrakech, From Souks to Saadian Tombs
Destination Dispatches: Dar Ayniwen Delights in Marrakech
Destination Dispatches: Merry Marrakech, All Four Seasons