Marrakech, a different and distinct experience
At the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Marrakech or Marrakesh lies as a prominent commercial and cultural centre. As is the case with many cities in Morocco there are two divisions in the city, the old one in a fortified area and the new one which has subsequently sprung up.
As the place used to be a great religious centre there are a number of graceful mosques adorning the landscape. Kautobia Mosque which was constructed in the 12th century A.D. is a 221 ft. tall structure which influenced the structure of Seville in Mosque which was a model for hundreds of churches in Spain and Europe. There are four globes atop the tall structure. Six rooms constructed over each other lead to the top of the mosque. The mosque has its elegance and style in a very unique manner.
The Ben Yusuf Madrasa, constructed during 13th century was subsequently modified and enlarged in the 16th century A.D. It has a hoary tradition of Islamic scholarship and at times imparted instruction to nearly one thousand students in the sacred lore. The place houses dormitories for the students, great libraries and discussion halls. In the last few decades it has ceased to be a centre of learning and serves as a proud historical site.
There are atleast a dozen mosques reverentially visited by the tourists. Some of them like Monsouria Mosque, Moussaine Mosque and Barrima Mosque have their own unique style and grace.
El Badi Palace completed during the 16th century A.D. means ‘incomparable’. Its beauty and ambience naturally fits with its name. The palace used to have as many as 360 great rooms. It even now has majesty of its own and viewed with awe by the visitors. The Bahia Palace is another splendid place built during 19th century. There are fine parks and courtyards in the complex. It reflected the imperial splendour of the ruler.
The museum of Moroccan Arts and Antiquities is housed in the former palace of a Sultan. It has exclusive collection of many art objects gathered from all over Morocco. The exhibits include a range of firearms, silk, carpets and rare manuscripts. It gives a comprehensive idea about the cultural facets of different periods in the history of Morocco. Intricate carvings, cedar roofing and similar unique features add to the charm of the museum.
The mausoleums of some great rulers of the past are also fine and graceful structures. They are referred to as Saadian Tombs and attract discerning tourists.
The place is rich in handicrafts which rang from leather work to jewellery to woodcutting to at least thirty different and distinct products of human labour which impresses the tourists with their glorious utilities and finish. The manner in which people produced and satisfied social needs for products before mass industrilisation could be clearly seen and appreciated in the large diversified handicrafts here. Majorille garden and some other open squares where endless products are offered for sale are also remarkable for the grace and uniqueness of their own.
From Djemaa El Fna square there are so many alleys where the food offered at open places is safe. There are varieties and the tourists can have a relaxed atmosphere for eating.
There are plenty of hotels with great convenience and hospitality and the tourist can have his own choice from star hotels to budget accommodation. There is no lack of comforts in the places and care is taken by the hotel managements to cater to the needs of the visitors.
A different and relaxed atmosphere awaits the tourists at Marrakech. For those who are spiritually inclined, the places in and around offer sombre and instructive guidelines. One naturally cherishes the visit to the place for a long time.