August 29, 2007 1:57pm CST
Marrakech or Marakesh (????? Marakesh), known as the "Red City" or "Al Hamra," is a city in southwestern Morocco in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Name The possible origin of its name could be from the Tamazight (Berber) words mur (n) akuch, which means Land of God. (The root "mur" is nowadays in the Berber languages used only in the feminine form "tamurt"). The same word "mur/mawr" appears in the country Mauritania, but this interpretation is still unproved to this day, and there are other possibilities that are often invoked. The name Morocco itself derives from Murrakush. This city is the capital of the Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz region. Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has the busiest square in the entire continent of Africa, called Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians by day; and food stalls by night, becoming a huge open-air restaurant. Like many North African and Middle Eastern cities, Marrakech comprised both an old fortified city (the médina) and an adjacent modern city (called Gueliz). It is served by Ménara International Airport (RAK is the code for the city) and a rail link to Casablanca and the north. The city is called "Marrakech" in French, "Marrakesh" in English, and "Marrakesch" in German. The official number of residents is one million; however, the population is estimated to be around two million. The largest part of the population of Marrakech is of Berber origin. Also, there is a very large international community consisting mainly of Europeans: especially French, estimated at 3,700 people, mostly retired. Also Germans, Italians, English and Swiss. Further information: Demographics of Morocco History Main article: History of Morocco Marrakesh is the second largest city in Morocco after Casablanca, and was known to early travellers as "Morocco City." Prior to the advent of the Almoravids in the 11th century, the area was ruled from the city of Aghmat. The Almoravid leader, Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar decided Aghmat was becoming overcrowded and decided to build a new capital. Being a nomad from the Sahara Desert, he decided to build it in a plain, away from the mountains and rivers, and chose the site of Marrakech as being in neutral territory between two tribes who were vying for the honor of hosting the new capital. Work started in May 1070, but Abu-Bakr was recalled to the Sahara to put down a rebellion in January 1071, and the city was completed by his deputy and eventual successor Yusuf ibn Tashfin. The city experienced its greatest period under the leadership of Yacoub el Mansour, the third Almohad sultan. A number of poets and scholars entered the city during his reign, and he began the construction of the Koutoubia Mosque and a new kasbah. Prior to the reign of Moulay Ismail, Marrakech was the capital of Morocco. After his reign, his grandson moved the capital back to Marrakech from Meknès. Since centuries Marrakesh is known for its 'seven saints'. When sufism was at the height of its popularity Moulay Ismail decided to move the tombs of several renowned figures to Marrakesh to attract pilgrims in the same way Essaouira did at that time with its Regrega festivals. The 'seven saints' (sebta rizjel) is now a firmly established institution, attracting visitors from everywhere. The seven saints include Sidi Muhammad al-Jazuli and Sidi Abu al-Qasim Al-Suhayli. It was dominated in the first half of the 20th century by T'hami El Glaoui, Lord of the Atlas and Pasha of Marrakesh Mosques, medrassas, synagogues and zaouias Koutoubia Mosque Ben Youssef Medrassa Ben Youssef Mosque Casbah Mosque Mansouria Mosque Bab Doukkala Mosque Mouassine Mosque Zaouia of Sidi Bel Abbes Zaouia of Sidi Ben Slimane al-Jazuli Zaouia of Sidi Youssef Ben Ali Sidi Moulay el Ksour Mosque Synagogue Beth-El Synagogue Salat el Azama Synagogue Salat Rabi Pinhasse Palaces, dars and villas El Badi Palace Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen) and méchouars Bahia Palace Dar Si Saïd Museum Maison Tiskiwin Dar el Glaoui Villa Majorelle at the Majorelle Garden Cemeteries, koubbas and mausolea Saadian Tombs Mausoleum of Ahmed el-Mansour Second mausoleum Koubba of Fatima Zohra and Koutoubia Mosque cemetery Almoravid Koubba Koubba Cadi Ayyad Jewish cemetery Sidi Abd el Aziz Sidi es Suhayli Souks Souk Kimakhin (stringed instruments) Souk el Bradiia (pitchers) Souk Hadaddine (metalwork) Souk Nahhassine (brass, copper) Souk Chouari (basketry, woodturning) Dyers' Souk, Wool Souk Souk Smarine (clothing) Rahba Quedima ("Old Square") Souk el Kebir (leatherwork) Kissarias Souk el Batna (skins) Souk el Maazi (goatskin) Souk Zrabia (Criée Berbère, Carpet Souk) Souk Fakharina Souk Siyyaghin (jewelry) Souk Smata (slippers, belts) Souk aux tenturiers Cherratine Souk Attarine Souk Tanneries Hôtel la Mamounia Handicraft center Gidel Building Renaissance Café Société Générale Marjane hypermarket Museums Dar Si Saïd Museum Marrakech Museum Bert Flint Museum at Maison Tiskiwin Islamic Art Museum at the Majorelle Garden City walls and gates Defensive wall Gates Bab Debbagh Bab Agnaou Bab el Khémis Bab er Robb Bab el Jédid Bab Doukkala Bab Aghmat Bab Nkob Bab er Raha Bab Aylen Bab Ahmar Bab Ighli Bab Ksiba Bab ech Charia Bab el Makhzen Bab Berrima Bab Taghzout Bab er Rharaza Bab Fteuh Places and squares Place Djemaâ el Fna: the biggest square in the African continent. Square Charles de Foucauld Place de la Liberté Place du 16 Novembre Place des Ferblantiers Place Youssef Ben Tachfine Place Mourabiten square Bir Anzaran Gardens and parks Palm Grove Majorelle Garden Menara gardens and olive grove Agdal Garden Koutoubia Mosque park at Square de Foucauld oasiria aquatic park 4km Amzmiz road Other structures Chrob ou Chouf Fountain Convention Center (Palais des Congres) Opera House Cadi Ayyad University Trips from Marrakech Many tourists take a trip from Marrakech to visit the valley of the Ourika River in the Atlas Mountains or the valley of the Draa River in the south near the Sahara desert, but also to Middle Atlas Mountains: Waterfalls of Beni Mellal, and to the Essaouira on the Atlantic ocean. Transport Menara International Airport serves as the main airport for the city and receives flights from Europe and neighboring Arab countries. A toll-paying motorway connects Marrakech with Casablanca. CTM coaches (intercity buses) and various private lines run services to most notable Moroccan towns as well as a number of European cities, from the Gare Routière on Rue Bab Doukkala in downtown Marrakech. Marrakesh is the southern terminus of the Moroccan railway network, and Marrakesh is well served by trains heading to Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, and Fez. The train station is located on Avenue Hassan II. People born in Marrakech Tahar Tamsamani (born September 10, 1980), Moroccan boxer Famous contemporary Marrakechis There are many cultured personnalities in Marrakech, includung singers and actors... Abd Alah Farkous, Moroccan comedy actor, he recently appeared in "??????????,(Moul Taxi),the taxi driver" with Abd el Khalik Fahim. Mohamed Ben Ibrahim, a famous poet, also called "???????????’(chaair al hamra), poet of the red(Marrakech)". Hamid Zahir, Popular singer. His songs include "lalla fatima", "ahoua lik" Abd El Jabar Lousir, comedy actor.