Secret Marrakech and Quirky Museums
We suggest trying our privately guided ‘ Secret Marrakech ‘ walking tour for those who have more time in Marrakech and want to delve a little deeper. North of the Jemaa el-Fna and the main souk area, you find a world where the tourists don’t tend to reach. This means you see things on sale that Moroccans want to buy, not the tourists. You will also visit some of Marrakech’s most interesting small museums. Often the buildings themselves are worth the visit, rather than the exhibits. These are found in Marrakech’s finest historic riads, contain ornate carvings, delicate tile work and stunning decoration.
You begin at the historic Bab Doukkala, a gateway dating from 1126. Walk through an area famous for beautiful handwoven rugs and silver jewellery. You arrive at the Fondouqs, which were medieval rooming houses or caravanserais. Desert traders came from far and wide to stay the night, before plying their goods in the souqs. Many are now artisans workshops. Two of the best are Fondouq el-Amir and Fondouq Kharbouch.
Turning south, you reach Mouassine Fountain which was built in the 16th century by Abdallah el Ghalib and is one of the 80 original medina fountains. Next door is the Musee de Mouassine, an ornate riad set within the medina. The riad has been painstakingly restored by Patrick Menac’h, who found original 16th-century Saadian architecture under later plasterwork. The intricate cornice friezes, painted woodwork and craftsmanship is worth seeing.
Your walk then takes you along Souk Lebbadine and Souk Smata to the Musee de Marrakech which showcases a range of art and ceramics in the Mnebhi Palace. Undoubtedly, the central courtyard is a stunning mixture of mosaic tiles and ornate fountains.
Next door is the Ali Ben Youssef Madersa, once the most splendid Quranic school in North Africa. Marvel at the Hispano-Moresque mosaics where 900 students once lived in 132 dorms, sharing just one bathroom.
Close by is the Almoravid Koubba, a 12th-century shrine whose architectural inspiration brought about the iconic Moroccan keyhole arches and vaulted ceilings you will see throughout the city.
It’s then time for lunch, and we suggest a stop at Nomad, right in the heart of the souqs overlooking Rabha Kedima Square.
In the afternoon, you will visit two interesting museums. First, visit the nearby Dar Si Said, home to the Museum of Moroccan Arts. Above all, the highlight is the amazing painted and domed wedding reception chamber.
After that, you visit the Maison Tiskiwin, located in the home of pioneer ethnographer and collector Bert Flint. Each room represents a caravan along the Sahara-to-Marrakech trading route, showcasing indigenous craftsmanship in a stunning building.
For your final stop on our ‘Secret Marrakech’ tour, walk down to Kosybar for a refreshing drink before returning to your hotel.