Souvenirs from Morocco, Marrakech
Visitors to Marrakech, the splendid city of Morocco, are on a journey of discovery: from old flavors and scents to new modern areas, the city is a celebration of the colorful Muslim heritage in a cosmopolitan fairy tale of sandy deserts, Atlas Mountains and breathtaking sunsets. Typical for the architecture of Moroccan cities, Marrakesh is made up of an old part of fortifications and a new modern city and was once the most astonishing imperial center of Morocco. With a current population of 1,000,000 people, “the Ochre City” is a place of spices, earthly colors and shapes overlooking the snowy tops of the Altas Mountains. Visitors are enchanted by the colorful display of picturesque houses, narrow streets and old trades in Marrakesh’s biggest traditional Berber market souk or the cosmopolitan square Djemaa el Fna. Here fairy tale characters meet to tell the old Moroccan legends or entertain the many visitors to the city while water sellers mix with street dancers, acrobats and musicians. A resin fridge magnet souvenir is now available online to depict the water seller as a colorful symbol of the city’s charming heritage.
Marrakesh, a City of Traditional Trade
Marrakesh’s street water sellers are a reminder of the city’s traditional trades and old-fashioned ways of providing its people with the so much needed spices, salt or expensive metals during an era of caravan routes crossing over the Sahara deserts to the heart of the region. The city became an important political center during the 11th century up until the region with its governing city of Aghmat was conquered by Abu Bakr ibn Umar, an Almoravid leader. He decided to develop Marrakech around its royal court due to its strategic position between two rival tribes. The city developed at its peak during the reign of Yaqub al-Mansur from the Almohad dynasty. A vibrant cultural life encouraging arts and sciences developed and a fervent construction period ended with the creation of some of its most important buildings and mosques.
A Moroccan Landmark of Shapes and Colors
The city is also famous for its ‘seven saints’, a ceremonial tradition established during the era of Moulay Ismail who encouraged religious celebrations; the tombs of important personalities were relocated in Marrakech in a successful attempt to attract visitors and pilgrims. The Marrakech was nevertheless shaped by its Almohad heritage; the dynasty was successful in conquering huge territories from Libya to Spain’s Seville and during its reign, a huge campaign for propagating the Islam religion in the Mediterranean regions took place. The Almohad sophisticated coinage displaying religious messages and their military confidence brought an unprecedented economical prosperity. The gardens from the royal court of Marrakech illustrated modern systems of irrigation despite the harsh desert conditions while a complex system of houses, towers, gates and impressive structures representative for the city’s art of Berber architectural design and splendid Islam decorations.
The Heritage of Old and New
Outside Marrakech, tourists can marvel at exotic natural beauties with old-fashion Arabian charm: the Ourika River has a beautiful valley close to the Atlas Mountains, as well as the Draa River overlooking the Sahara regions. Waterfalls such as the Beni Mellal anticipate the breathtaking seascape of the Atlantic Ocean. Inside its borders, the ‘Red City’ which comprises the modern neighbourhoods of Marrakesh is crowded with tourists: Moroccan traditional cuisine and mouth watering street food, elegant cafes and expensive shops create a striking contrast in a city with a strong traditional heritage. Its unconventional modernity manages to combine a dynamic present with the old fashioned art of trading and dining.