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The city is divided into two highly contrasting districts: the medina, founded by the Almoravids nearly 1,000 years ago, and the Ville Nouvelle, a French colonial modernist project from the early 20th century. It is the medina, and its central square Djemaa el-Fna, that will undoubtedly spark the imagination. Djemaa el-Fna is the heart and soul of Marrakchi life, and really comes alive with the setting of the sun, when a caravanasi of food vendors, selling all manner of Moroccan delicacies, descend onto the square. These are accompanied by snake charmers, wide-eyed story tellers, musicians and performers that lend a medieval scent to the night air. To the north of the square are the important religious buildings and the souks, while to the south are the Imperial quarters where the palaces and monuments of past rulers proudly stand. The Ville Nouvelle, which in comparison to the medina is a decidedly more ordered and sedate affair, divides into the areas of Gueliz and Hivernage. Here you will find an array of civic buildings, international hotels, bars and restaurants typical of any modern European city.
The city divides into two highly contrasting districts. The medina, founded by the Almoravids nearly 1000 years ago, and the Ville Nouvelle, a French colonial modernist project from the early 20th century. It is the medina, and its central square Djemaa el-Fna, that will undoubtedly fire the imagination.
Moroccan cuisine, in general, consists of the staples of meat―mainly chicken and lamb―a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and couscous. The most renowned Moroccan dish is the tajine, a slowly cooked stew of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Another famous dish is pastilla, which is composed of either chicken or pigeon between layers of pastry.
Drinking in Marrakech is a discreet affair that takes place strictly behind closed doors. However, once you’re safely inside, the party starts to swing to rhythms of the gnaoua! Hidden away from view on the outskirts of the town, the clubs are a place for locals and tourists to let off steam and get down to some seriously funky beats. Be prepared for a unique brand of Marrakshi mayhem!
Marrakech is a shopper’s paradise. It is a place where some of the finest hand crafted goods won’t cost you an arm and a leg and you’re actively expected to bargain. If this sounds like your idea of consumer heaven then head directly to the souks in the North of the Medina, where you will find different artisans fashioning all manner of products. There’s also the slipper market, for that most essential of Moroccan footwear: the babouche, which you can slip into after the night’s revelries. Other markets to look out for include the leather market and the carpet market where you can pick-up high quality hand-woven rugs. For sheer interest alone, and to watch real craftsmen at work, be sure to wander through the blacksmiths’, dyers’ and carpenters’ markets. If the bustle of the souk gets to be too much, and you’re all bartered out, then head over to the Ville Nouvelle where the shopping experience comes air conditioned-boutique style. Here you will find exclusive designer wear and one-off original items, artisan and antique shops and warehouse outlets. Happy shopping!
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