Home Travel Not to Miss Cultural & Historic Places to Visit in Marrakech

Not to Miss Cultural & Historic Places to Visit in Marrakech


Surrounded by the majestic silence of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech blossoms like a living oasis of vibrant history and eternal beauty. There are many incredible cultural and historic places to visit in Marrakech to truly experience the soul of the city.

This Moroccan city is a tapestry of vibrant colors, soothing scents and a rhythm that invites you to a timeless dance. Amidst the warm rays of the sun kissing the ancient walls, every breeze whispers of secrets hidden deep in the shadowy corners of the narrow streets.

In Marrakech, the air tells an ancient story of trade and tradition. Here, in the heart of market life, where haggling over goods is as much a part of the culture as the smoke from the cookshops. It is a place that never really sleeps, but also makes room for quiet, reflective moments.

The city spreads out like a colorful carpet that unfolds a dense web of past and present, expectation and memory.

People from all over the world stroll along the boulevards and alleyways, each step an encounter with the essence of Morocco. Marrakech is a city that welcomes you with open arms, whose warmth extends far beyond the visible horizon and touches the heart of everyone who walks its streets.

Let yourself be enchanted by the atmosphere of a city that is both a bridge between eras and the beating heart of modernity.

Related: Discover Marrakech: A Treasure Trove of Activities and Attractions

Here is an overview:

Mosque with minaret in Marrakech, Morocco.
Mosque with minaret in Marrakech, Morocco.

Discover the Best Places to Visit in Marrakech

Check out these places to visit in Marrakech to truly uncover the wonder of this city.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Visiting Marrakech

Jemaa el-Fnaa: The Beating Heart of Marrakech

In the center of the Moroccan city of Marrakech lies the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the Place of the Hanged, also known as the Jugglers’ Stage. This emblematic square is the beating heart of the city and one of the most famous public squares in Africa. It is the main attraction of Marrakech and attracts locals and tourists daily.

The Jemaa el-Fnaa is a colorful spectacle during the day and comes to life at night. Where trade once dominated the square, today you can experience a multifaceted meeting of cultures.

In addition to a wide variety of goods such as vegetables and health products – from dried lizards and snake skins to various indefinable elixirs and ointments – the square is transformed into an arena for unique spectacles, a fairground, a stage and a theater, depending on the time of day. Snake charmers attract curious glances even in the early morning hours, and vendors begin to set up their stalls. The Jemaa el-Fnaa is a place that touches all the senses and reflects the soul of Marrakech.

It is said that all the streets of Marrakech lead to the Jemaa el-Fnaa, and indeed, the city streets seem to find their center here. The square is known for its unique atmosphere: chaotic, loud, inspiring and unforgettable.

The hustle and bustle starts at 10 am and peaks at sunset. In the midday heat, the atmosphere may seem subdued, but as soon as the sun sets, crowds from all over Marrakech converge for a shared experience.

Hundreds of chefs prepare traditional dishes on their grills, and the plumes of smoke create a wall of fog that obscures the view. The numerous food stalls offer culinary delights ranging from classic kebabs and vegetable skewers to local specialties such as snails and grilled sheep’s heads.

No less lively than the food trucks is the hustle and bustle of the juice and nut vendors, who compete loudly and charmingly for the attention of their customers.

A Moroccan proverb sums up the appeal of Jemaa el-Fnaa:

“If you have a day in Morocco, spend it in Marrakech. If you only have an hour, spend it on the Jemaa el Fna!

Night time at the Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakech, Morocco.
Night time at the Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakech, Morocco.

Marrakech’s Medina: A Labyrinth of Cultures and Traditions

Once you leave the bustling Djemaa el-Fna square, you enter the maze of souks in the medina. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old city of Marrakech is a labyrinth of historical treasures and lively market streets. Wander through the narrow, labyrinthine alleyways where countless markets line up.

Marrakech consists of the historic walled medina and the modern neighboring town of Gueliz. Architectural highlights include the Koutoubia mosque, built in 1162, the Kasbah, built in the same century, and the 14th-century Ben Youssef Medersa.

Particularly noteworthy are the well-preserved ramparts and the magnificent gates of Marrakech, of which the Bab Agnaou is considered one of the most photogenic. These historical monuments have been preserved thanks to traditional construction methods, local materials and local craftsmanship.

The souks are the heart and soul of the city and its inhabitants, with a market that can be challenging even for those with a keen sense of direction. Although a GPS or compass is a useful aid, there is no guarantee that you won’t get lost in this maze of streets and alleyways. Finding your way through them is often an adventure, as it is easy to get lost – enchanted by the fascinating offerings of the merchants.

It is easy to be seduced by the myriad of goods on offer: Various shapes, colors, lights and shadows, scents and sounds, where the most unimaginable objects almost merge into one. You can find everything from handmade carpets, leather goods, exotic spices, and arts and crafts. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of the merchants who set the rhythm of daily life.

The alleys, covered with thatched roofs that provide pleasant shade, are densely populated by tourists and locals.

In the pervasive mix of sounds and smells, the donkeys are indispensable as porters in the souks. They carry the goods and supply the shops. If you hear someone shouting “Balek,” you should react quickly – it is a donkey with a cart making its way through the crowd.

The medina of Marrakech is a place that preserves old traditions and simultaneously exudes an inviting hustle and bustle. It is a place that tells stories of times long past and, at the same time, welcomes modern life with open arms.

Related: Bargaining Advice for Shopping in Marrakech and Morocco

Places to visit in Marrakech. Entrance to the souks - Bab Agnaou in Marrakech, Morocco.
Entrance to the souks – Bab Agnaou in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Bahia and Badi Palaces: Jewels of Moroccan Architecture

The Bahia Palace, a jewel of Moroccan architecture, fascinates with its elaborately designed courtyards, magnificent tiled mosaics and richly decorated rooms. The palace was built during the Alaouite dynasty in the 19th century. Construction of the palace began under the Grand Vizier Si Moussa and was initially rather modest. The palace was greatly expanded by the architect Mohammed bi Makki under Moussa’s son, who later became a high government official. The Andalusian style of the palace is unmistakable.

Visitors to the Bahia Palace should bring enough time with them. The prearranged tour goes through different rooms, gardens and courtyards. However, the signs with explanations are rather sparse and even if “guides” are offered outside the palace, the tour quality can vary. It is therefore advisable to use the services of reputable tour operators.

Interestingly, most of the 160 rooms in the palace are empty. This deliberate decision allows visitors to experience the rooms in their original splendor. Nothing distracts from the fine architectural details, such as the ceiling decorations, and the focus is entirely on the artistic elements of the rooms.

The Badi Palace, another of Marrakech’s architectural masterpieces, is a complementary attraction and is also worth a visit to understand the diversity of Moroccan palace architecture.

Visiting these historic sites is an awe-inspiring experience that is both culturally and historically enlightening, immersing visitors in Morocco’s past.

Inner courtyard at the Bahia in Marrakech, Morocco.
Inner courtyard at the Bahia in Marrakech, Morocco.

Badi Palace: A Monument to Past Greatness

The Badi Palace in Marrakech is a symbol of greatness and historical significance. Although now in ruins, the palace attracts visitors with its extensive gardens and impressive remains, offering a glimpse of its former splendor.

Built between 1578 and 1608 under Sultan Ahmed El-Mansour, the El-Badi Palace was considered one of the most magnificent palaces of its time, with its decorative tiles, elaborate mosaic floors and fine cedar wood ceiling carvings. In its day, the palace was a masterpiece of architecture and a testament to the Sultan’s wealth and artistic aspirations.

At such historic sites, the question often arises whether the ruins are worth visiting. In the case of the Badi Palace, the answer is a resounding yes, as the ruins are well worth exploring.

Of particular interest is the huge water basin, the dimensions of which are still astonishing today. It bears witness to a time when such architectural elements served not only practical but also aesthetic purposes, underscoring the splendor and sophistication of the palace.

A visit to the Badi Palace is, therefore, a unique insight into the architecture and spirit of a bygone era. The dimensions of the palace and the still visible traces of its former beauty leave a lasting impression of the sophistication with which the rulers of the 16th century flaunted their power and wealth.

Waterpool at the Badi Palace in Marrakech, Morocco.
Waterpool at the Badi Palace in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Koutoubia Mosque and Its Minaret: Marrakech’s Landmark

The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque rises into the sky above Marrakech as a striking landmark and is an outstanding example of Moorish architecture. While the mosque’s interior is only accessible to Muslims, the proud minaret is also a landmark for non-Muslims and can be seen from almost every corner of the city.

Construction of the mosque began in 1147 under the first Almohad caliph. The site chosen was the former Ksar el-Hajar Palace of an earlier dynasty. Before completion, however, a serious error was discovered: the qibla wall, which indicates the direction of prayer, was misaligned, so the building was demolished and rebuilt in 1157. The remains of the first building can still be seen on the north side of the mosque.

The mosque was inaugurated in 1158 without a minaret, which was completed in 1199. The Koutoubia is considered the oldest mosque in Morocco. Its name, which means “Mosque of the Booksellers,” refers to the nearby booksellers’ souk.

With a floor area of approximately 90×60 meters, the mosque can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers. The prayer hall itself consists of a pillared hall with 17 naves and 7 transepts.

The minaret, an impressive construction of sandstone blocks, is 77 meters high. At the top, there is a platform, which is optically closed by a greenish-tiled mosaic and a 2-meter high battlement.

The ban on non-Muslims entering Moroccan mosques was enshrined in law during the French colonial period in the 20th century. Resident General Hubert Lyautey, who represented French policy in Morocco in 1912, enforced spatial and cultural segregation between Moroccan inhabitants and French colonists by having separate residential and business districts built for Europeans and by prohibiting non-Muslims from entering Moroccan mosques. Although the Qur’an prescribes this prohibition only for the holy mosque in Mecca, it still applies today.

Therefore, the Koutoubia mosque and its minaret remain cultural treasures for all visitors to Marrakech to admire from the outside, testifying to the city’s architectural and historical diversity.

Koutoubia mosque and minaret in Marrakech, Morocco.
Koutoubia mosque and minaret in Marrakech, Morocco.

Jardin Majorelle: A Botanical Jewel in Brilliant Blue

The Jardin Majorelle is one of Morocco’s most remarkable botanical gardens and a symbol of color and botanical diversity.

The garden owes its name to the French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962), who created it. In 2000, the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé purchased the garden and initiated an extensive restoration. The villa adjacent to the garden served as a residence for the formidable duo.

Today, visitors to the Jardin Majorelle can admire an exotic collection of plants from various parts of the world, as well as a bright Majorelle Blue building that houses a remarkable small museum. The museum displays works by Majorelle as well as a selected ethnographic collection.

The central element of the garden is the bright blue villa, the former studio of the artist Majorelle, which immediately captivates the visitor. The Jardin Majorelle is home to a wealth of plants collected from all over the world, including imposing palms, a dense bamboo forest, a variety of cacti and dazzling bougainvilleas.

A tour of the Jardin Majorelle invites you to appreciate the uniqueness of the flora and to understand Majorelle’s passion for this garden. The Jardin Majorelle is a place of tranquility and beauty, in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

Cacti at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco.
Cacti at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Saadian Tombs: Testimony to the Saadian Dynasty

The Saadian Tombs in Marrakech are a place of tranquility and beauty, a 16th-century work of art that reflects the splendor of a bygone era. Forgotten for centuries, these historic tombs were rediscovered in the 20th century and have since become one of the main attractions for visitors to Marrakech.

The tomb dates back to the reign of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603) and was surrounded by high walls to suppress the memory of the Saadian dynasty. After more than a century in hiding, the tombs were rediscovered in 1917 and restored by the Service des Beaux-Arts.

The necropolis consists of individual open-air tombs and two important mausoleums, the “Great Mausoleum” and the “Small Mausoleum.” The Great Mausoleum contains some sixty members of the Saadian dynasty and consists of three rooms, the most notable of which is the Hall of Twelve Columns. The son of Ahmad al-Mansur is buried here. The tombs are characterized by the use of high-quality materials such as finely worked cedar wood, stucco work and Italian Carrara marble.

The mausoleum’s interior is richly decorated with mosaics and vibrant colors, which are particularly accentuated by the lighting. Due to protective measures, the view is limited to a glimpse through an archway, which nevertheless gives a comprehensive impression of the magnificent ornamentation.

Next to the Great Mausoleum is the Small Mausoleum, decorated with similarly elaborate mosaics but appears less grandiose due to its earthier tones. The soldiers and servants buried in an outdoor garden area are rounding out the picture.

The Saadian Tombs offer an impressive retrospective of Marrakech’s history and Morocco’s cultural past, which is still admired today for its artistic execution.

Saadian tombs in Marrakech, Morocco.
Saadian tombs in Marrakech, Morocco.

Dinner in the Sky: A Gastronomic Highlight in Marrakech

Winner of dozens of international awards, Dinner in the Sky has been one of the most spectacular and successful gastronomic events in the world for over 16 years.

Dinner in the Sky complements the tourist offer of Marrakech. During this experience, gourmets are lifted to lofty heights to enjoy a first-class meal and a picturesque panoramic view of Marrakech.

This extraordinary experience literally lifts its guests to new heights and promises unforgettable moments and lasting memories for each participant.

Book your dinner in the sky experience here.

Dinner in the Sky in Marrakech, Morocco.
Dinner in the Sky in Marrakech, Morocco.

Maison de la Photographie: A Photographic Journey into the Past of North Africa

Located in a restored foundouk, an early 20th-century caravanserai, the Maison de la Photographie is a museum that enriches the cultural spectrum of Marrakech. It houses an impressive collection of 8,000 photographs documenting life in North Africa between 1870 and 1950. From portraits to everyday street scenes, the exhibition offers an intense glimpse into the past, immersing visitors in contemporary history.

Relax on the museum’s rooftop terrace when you need a break from the art. It offers sweeping views of the “red city” of Marrakech and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains. While sipping a traditional Moroccan mint tea or freshly squeezed orange juice, you can soak up the charm of the metropolis and the panorama.

The Maison de la Photographie is located in Marrakech’s medina, on rue Ahal Fes, tucked away behind the better-known Médersa Ben-Youssef. Even though travel guides may give the impression that the museum is located right behind the Koranic school, a short walk of about 5 to 10 minutes is necessary to discover this photographic time capsule.

Photos of Africa - Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech, Morocco.
Photos of Africa – Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech, Morocco.

Menara Garden

The Jardin de la Ménara, an extensive urban park, covers an area of about 100 hectares and is located about three kilometers southwest of Marrakech’s old city walls.

It is known for its central water basin, which is impressive both for its size – 150 meters wide and about 200 meters long – and for its purpose: it is filled with water from the nearby mountains and used to irrigate the surrounding plantations, where olive trees, date palms, and various fruit trees thrive.

The 16th-century pavilion adjacent to the basin is a striking landmark of the park. The ochre-colored building with its green pyramidal roof was once a refuge for Sultan Sidi Mohammed to spend time with one of his mistresses.

The history of the gardens dates back to 1156 AD when they were laid out under the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu’min. In the 19th century, the complex was greatly expanded. In 1985, together with the old city of Marrakech and the Agdal Gardens, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its cultural and historical value.

The tranquility and historical ambience of the Menara Gardens make it an important part of Marrakech’s cultural heritage and a source of relaxation and pleasure for locals and visitors alike.

Menara Palace in Marrakech, Morocco.

Anima Garden

Nestled in the picturesque Ourika Valley, some 30 kilometers from Marrakech, is a garden creation that transports visitors into a world of colors, shapes and fantasy: ANIMA, created by Austrian multi-talent André Heller, promises a sensual experience beyond the ordinary.

ANIMA is less a conventional garden than a living sculpture where nature becomes the canvas. Heller has composed a botanical landscape in which palm trees, cacti and flower beds interweave with art objects, installations and sculptures to form a harmonious whole, always framed by the majestic backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.

The elevated points of the garden offer an incomparable panorama that highlights the beauty and structure of ANIMA. Every detail is designed to enchant the visitor and encourage a second glance to appreciate the wealth of impressions fully.

Shaded paths wind through a labyrinth of bamboo and past imposing cacti, while a mirrored house in the heart of the green multiplies the vegetation as if by magic. Seating invites you to linger and enjoy the idyllic setting everywhere you look.

Water plays a key role in this artistically designed garden, whether in the form of rippling fountains that spread tranquility, or rose petals in the water whose fragrance fills the air, accompanied by the gentle rustling of rosemary hedges.

ANIMA is a place of inspiration where art and nature come together, an oasis of designed vitality in the heart of the Ourika Valley, inviting you to stay and discover.

Eyes nestled between flowers and green at the Anima Garden in Marrakech, Morocco.
Eyes nestled between flowers and green at the Anima Garden in Marrakech, Morocco.

Marrakech is a city full of contrasts and impressive sights that fascinate and enchant every visitor. From historic palaces to vibrant markets, the city offers diverse experiences that promise an unforgettable travel adventure.

We hope you enjoy these cultural and historical places to visit in Marrakech.


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