Sunday, 3 January 2010

Jemaa el-Fna: the pulse of Marrakech

No matter what time of the day, Jemaa el-Fna, the beating heart of Marrakech is bustling with activity.

Street vendors sell delicious freshly squeezed orange-juice and colourful dried fruits, healers offer cures for many ails and pains, astrologers read what the future will bring in 2010, while veiled women try to grab your hand for a henna tattoo (I got one too...). And then there are the snake charmers and monkey men who try to hustle tourists for a few dirams.

At dusk camera totting tourists jostle one another on the many roof top terrace cafes to catch a glimpse of the sun setting behind the Koutoubia Minaret.

Down below storytellers begin their epic tales - lasting we were told up to 7 days. A smokey haze starts to waft over Jemaa el-Fna as food stalls fire up their barbecues for delicious spicey keftas, which they offer with Moroccan salads and steaming snails.

Of course this magical square is a tourist magnet, but it's not all staged and artificial. Jemaa el-Fna is where people in Marrakech come to socialize. You'll see groups of young women strolling up and down the square, families enjoying a meal at one of the many food stalls, and also large groups of men crowding around story tellers or Berber musicians.


Lisa Gartner 5 February 2010 at 16:40  


Condé Nast Traveler recently launched this blog and my editor Eimear Lynch linked to you today.

Love your blog!

Lisa Gartner

Barbara 7 February 2010 at 23:36  

Hi Lisa,

Thanks so much for the feedback and I'm glad you are enjoying my blog.

Greetings from a very very rainy Sydney!


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