North of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and just under 600 kilometres from the Merzouga desert stands the fourth largest city in Morocco, beaming with colour, culture and creativity. Although at first, a shock to my North-American senses, Marrakesh far exceeded my expectations and was quite the adventure. The city’s red sandstone walls and buildings have coined Marrakesh “The Red City” or “Ochre City.” These walls, made of orange-red clay and chalk, were built by Almoravids in the 12th century as protective fortifications. The walls stretch roughly 19 kilometres around the heart of the city, standing 5.8 metres high and comprising of 20 gates and 200 towers.
The city has been inhabited by Berber farmers since the Neolithic times and has become one of the busiest cities in Africa, serving as a major economic centre and tourist destination. Marrakesh’s popularity began to flourish in the 16th century, after a period of decline, when two wealthy sultans, Abu Abdallah al-Qaim and Ahmad al-Mansur, embellished the city with lavish palaces and restored several destoryed monuments.
Beyond the city bustling with souks and vendors and life, you can discover secret gardens, embellished mosques, lavish palaces, extravagant spas and upscale riads, which is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.