Saturday, 12 January 2013

Tiptoeing Quietly Through Marrakech

While Marrakech is one of the biggest cities in North Africa, if you have a few dirhams in your pocket, you can find quiet. While parks and trees are non-existant in the medina, you can find some peace in the inward-facing courtyards of former palaces and mansions of the well-to-do.

The architecture and the decorative aspects of the palaces were stunning. Many of them were hundreds of years old. Morocco has the distinction of being very close to Europe- it's only 10 miles of water between Spain and Tangier. Because of that small separation, this became a bit of a cultural crossroads. Arabic, Spanish, Berber and Jewish influences are seen in the art and architecture. The French occupied most of the country for 100 years, so after Arabic, everyone speaks French and almost all the signs and documents were in French.


The Marrakech Museum was housed in a former palace. The size and grandeur of the chandelier rivals that of the Paris Opera House.


My favorite was the Ben Youssef Madrasa. A former Islamic college started in the 14th century, it was almost completely empty and open for exploring. It was denuded of furniture, but a quiet spot by the pool in the courtyard was completely peacefull, with the occasional tourist taking breaks and naps in the bright sunshine.


Watching the light move across the courtyard in the late afternoon...

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I was in love with the zillij tile work, and the flowery Arabic script that lined the entire courtyard, interrupted only by a grand door.

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The keyhole-shaped doors. Everywhere in Morocco, this was the standard shape of the door frame, with huge ceder, oak and brass doors fitted in them. I could see myself ganking this design element for future, personal use.


Despite it being fairly hot in the sun, the moment you moved into the shadows or the thick walls of the building, it became almost unbearably cold.

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Back to the streets, to play a game of dodgebike.

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