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Marrakech through the ages – In three days

Morocco is a city of contrasts; colour, poverty, dust, antiques, donkeys, motorbikes, horse drawn carts, history, architecture, artisans and gastronomic delight.  To take all this in, in three days is quite an assault on the mind and body.

For a good place to start your tour is the new Almaha Marrakech Riad based in the the Kasbah district of Marrakech, a 20 minute walk from the main square of Jemaa-el-Fna – from where it is possible to see the whole of Morocco in a condensed state.  Almaha Marrakech which opened in February, is run by a small team.  It comprises 12 rooms and suites, the size of which places it in the ’boutique’ hotel category.  Each suite on the first floor has its own private staircase leading directly to a large roof terrace, divided into private spaces by the clever use of fencing made up of Bougainvillea.  From here you have the vantage of surveying the whole of Marrakech and beyond to the Atlas mountains.  Also on the roof terrace is a small swimming pool and a covered terrace for breakfast or dinner.  The hotel is situated in a residential area meaning that you hardly see any other tourists and become immersed in the culture quicker. We built up a good rapport with the gentleman who sold water from a kiosk just minutes from the hotel and despite walking from the main Square back to the road at night, we felt much safer than we would have done in London.  Almaha Marrakech provides excellent food and you should definitely try their speciality (and indeed Morocco’s) of lamb tagine with prune and almonds.  Off the main courtyard is the Library where a wall panel of hand-folded books features the words from the poem by Charles Baudelaires ‘L’invitation au voyage’.  Another lovely room is the Pixel Room, so named due to the 23,000 or so silk pieces of fabric manually fitted  together to represent the Mosque and surrounding area of the Jamaa-el-Fna.  Bearing in mind the heat, a spa and hamman with its various treatments on offer is very welcome. A time to reflect on all that you have seen and done during your stay.
The architecture of Marrakech is varied and beautiful – places we would highly recommend as visiting are the Medersa Ben Youssef containing the most exquisite stone carvings you have ever seen representative of the Arab-Andalusian architecture;  The Secret Garden containing two sections – one for indigenous planting and the other showcasing plants from five continents; the Virtual Museum of the Public Square which holds temporary exhibitions reflecting local heritage and culture; The Marrakech Museum with its fantastic mosaics. For a rest from serious culture, go to Jemaa-el-Fna at night and see Marrakech come alive with its informal culture; snake charmers, medicine men, tooth pullers, storytellers, acrobats, musicians and entertainers.
You can walk everywhere, but at the end of the day, after some 8 miles of walking never has a spa or a sunbed been so welcome!
Lucy and Stephen were guests of Almaha Marrakech
Almaha Marrakech, 55 Derb Ben Zina, La Kasbah, 40040 Marrakech, Morocco   www.almahamarrakech.com

Images and copyright:  www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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