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Morocco: The Magic of the Orient IV – Marrakesh and Essaouira

Published: 4.11.2017
We spend this day in Marakesh. In the morning, we enter Agdal, gardens founded by the Berber dynasty of Almohad in the 12th century. They constructed here a network of water reservoirs and canals. This is the most advanced water reservoir in Maghreb. Thanks to this reservoir, there is a large olive tree garden around it. We approach the large reservoir filled with water. In the background, we see the High Atlas with its snow caped mountains. High palmas around us only add to this incredible place.

We go on to the graves of the Saadi dynasty. Soultan Moulay Ismail grew envy towrads them and ordered to wall up their graves. The French accidentaly discoveed the graves when they flew over the area  in the 20th century. Their most important ruler was Ahmed Al Mansour, which translates as victorious.

medina   mesita koutubia v marakesi

Then we walk through a Jewish quarter to Bahia palace which once belonged the Grand Vizier. He fell in love with the daughter of his minister of war. He then made her his fourth wife. We see the chambers of his wives, a spacious harem, gardens, audience room, and private chambers. The Grand Vizier had there blind musicians so they wouldn't spy on his private life. Servants were not allowed to speak loudly to not disturb is quiet family atmosphere. They learned to communicate by gestures similarly to Topkapi palace, Istanbul.

palác Bahia   palác Bahia

In the afternoon, we go to the most famous medina in Morocco, in the heart of which is Square of the Dead which inspired many writers nad painters. Here is true exoticism. Vendors yell one at another, people clap to acrobats, and snakes twirl on their owners. Spices, medical herbs, or herbs for magic and cosmetics are sold here at souk (market). Here you may buy a mandragora root, antimonit for eye shades, and there was even a slave trade. I take pictures of the square from a beautiful cafe. At sundown, we approach Koutubia mosque, one of the three landmarks related to the Almohad dynasty. Koutubia translates as booksellers. They sold their books here and financed the construction of the mosque. Today you may see only low columns and main walls.

náměstí Mrtvých v Marrákeši

The Atlantic coastline and the magical city of Essaouira are next on our itineary. The city has vast and rich history and became famous for beautiful and clever women which were kidnapped by bandits to be sold to sultans' harems. The city was founded by Berbers. Later it would be frequented by the Phoenicians nás čeká pobřeží Atlantiku a kouzelné město Essaouira, které je známá pestrou historií. Essaouiru proslavily krásné a chytré ženy, které odsud unášeli lupiči. Ti je pak prodávali sultánům do jejich harémů. Město bylo založeno Berbery a později sem také připlouvali Féničané a vzájemně si vyměňovali své zboží. Do Essaouiry se také přistěhovali Židé, když byli propuštěni z babylonského zajetí, a prodávali zde své drahocenné šperky a zlato. Žili tu ti nejslavnější šperkaři na světě. Své stopy tu zanechali také Řekové a později Římané.

Essaouira

We begin the tour on a lookout point behidn the city where the land meets ocean. Then we enter the city and ride along the boardwalk and the beach, the place where hippies squatted and Rolling Stones and Oasis held a concert. It is a very popular spot. In the present, you may see many surfers or even a windsurfing championship. We get off the vehicle at the place where the port meets the city wall. We see a massive citadel and an elegant entrance gate with an Arabic inscription. At the square begins a labyrinth of stands with many friendly vendors selling paintings, jewelry, statues, and many beautiful items you don't need but they add beauty to your life. Essaouira wrapped me in its magic and great atmosphere. I feel salty wind on my cheeks. I want to remember this image forever.

Essaouira   Essaouira

GPS: 31°30'51.7"N 9°46'18.8"W

Text and photos: Sylvie Halouzková



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