Marrakech Madness

Tadelakt Lamp

Tadelakt Lamp

Today I visited Riad Art Expo (now in its 7th year). I found some very nice decorative tadelakt lamps and other items, plus lovely hand embroidered towels made in the Fes style. Tadelakt is a bright, waterproof lime plaster which is found in the valley between the High and Middle Atlas Mountains; it was traditionally used on the walls of Marrakech and the underground cisterns, and became highly prized in hammams and royal palaces. More recently it has been a contemporary craze as an alternative to tiles in bathrooms in the US and Europe. It seems that every riad and dar in Morocco has tadelakt bathrooms.

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech

Love it or hate it the heart of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna which is a huge square in the heart of the medina. Whilst I could do without the snake charmers, the fresh orange juice, dry fruit stalls and traditional dancers are great. There are souks everywhere – there isn’t anything you cannot find but do have to bargain like mad. Unfortunately the souks and square are a motorbike nightmare – they weave in and out of the crowds and expect you to jump out of the way, which I suppose you have to – annoying to say the least. At night though the food stalls make Djemaa el Fna an unmissable experience.

The following day I went to a carpet warehouse in the hills surrounding Marrakech. There were beautiful views of Berber villages and of course my “gentle raiding” got me some very nice tazenakht and glaoui rugs.

I am beginning to think I should refuse the mint tea which is routinely provided everywhere you go … whilst the mint is nice it is far too sweet and several glasses start making you feel a bit ill!

To know where you are in Marrakech you just need to look for the Koutoubia minaret – what a landmark it is. The Koutoubia (from kutubiyyin which is Arabic for booksellers) Mosque – built in 1184–99 on the site of a previous 11th century mosque, is a classic example of Morocco-Andalucian architecture. It was originally covered with painted plaster and zellij but is now gorgeous in its simplicity. The 12th century pulpit (or minbar) was recently restored and can be seen in Palais el-Badi.

 

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