FEW CITIES AROUND THE WORLD CAN BEWITCH VISITORS WITH THE STRENGTH OF MARRAKESH. THE ATMOSPHERE OF THIS ANCIENT MOROCCAN CITY IS UNIQUE, ITS LIGHTS AND COLOURS ABSOLUTELY ENCHANTING. THIS IS A HOSPITABLE PLACE: WALKING AROUND AND GETTING LOST IN THE OLD, NARROW ALLEYWAYS OF THE OLD TOWN IS AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE. WE SELECTED THREE KEY PLACES DOWNTOWN, IN THE HOPE YOU MAY BE ABLE ONE DAY TO VISIT THEM AND APPRECIATE THEIR TIMELESS CHARM.
A multitude of objects, an explosion of colour, a scent that holds thousands others: this is the Souk: the enormous market found in the Medina, the heart of Marrakesh.
A maze of alleys lit by struggling sunrays and lanterns; an enchanted world where you can get lost, forgetting all else. In this surreal atmosphere, tiny and large shops segue incessantly, offering a unique spectacle seen nowhere else in the world. There are no names or shop signs or windows, used to narrate the writer Elias Canetti. The absolute star in this place that has enchanted visitors forever is colour: released from spices, reflected in mirrors, adorning slippers and jewels, it rests on enameled pottery and ends up intertwined in hand-woven rugs.
Pungent and pleasant smells and aromas accompany this voyage of the senses. Walking around, you may even happen to hear a lute-maker who, heedless of everything around him, fine-tunes his instruments.
“A scent is that last and best reserve of the past,” used to say Marcel Proust. This is the inscription that towers at the entrance of the Musèe du Parfum, an oasis of scents found in the medina in Marrakesh.
It was perfumer Abderrazzak Benchaâbane who restored it in 2006. For those seeking a unique experience, this is an un-missable place.
The world of scents is explored in every direction. Room after room, you can observe the magic and complex transformation process that leads to the transformation of raw materials into perfumes, but also cosmetic and body care products. The lab activity is highly recommended: you will be able to create your own personal scent from a palette, and with the
advice of an expert in this ancient oriental art.
The incense tree is wonderful: the resin that oozes out of the trunk is collected every year.
Flourishing cactus, gorgeous water lilies, palm trees that sway in the clear skies, exuberant bougainvillea: in the heart of a restless Marrakesh, the Gardens of Majorelle are a corner of silent magic, ready to welcome and enchant visitors.
They are the inspirational brainchild of the French painter Jacques Majorelle, who was conquered by Morocco and its magic atmosphere during colonial times. He commissioned the construction of a Moorish style villa and painted the walls that unique cobalt blue that has now become known as Majorelle blue. After the artist’s death, the gardens went into a long period of neglect, but were then brought back to glory thanks to the expert restoration by Pierre Bergè and Yves Saint Laurent, who set up house there.
The ground floor now displays the Berber museum. After having enjoyed studying the objects that narrate the story of that proud and ancient people, you can then spend a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon walking around the paths lined with aloe, banana plants and bamboo.
It is called Atay Naa Naa and it is one of the most ancient rituals of Morocco. In this country, where hospitality is sacred, preparation of tea requires a fascinating and complex ceremony that takes time and mastery. The homeowner, the ceremony master, will prepare a large silver tray with lots of small, coloured glasses.
Tradition requires that every receptacle should hold a pinch of green tea and a fragrant mint leaf, called Naa Naa. Once boiling water is added, the drink is poured into the teapot. It is only then that the tea is once again served into the glasses, from a height of 40 cm.
A show to be experienced with the eyes and with the ears, before even the palate. Guests are invited to drink three times.
To savour the aftertaste, sure, but also to establish whether there is truth in the ancient proverb that states “The first glass is as gentle as life, the second glass is as strong as love, the third glass is as bitter as death.
The healing power of water and heat. Expert hands massaging, soothing all tension. Clay, oils and muds that enhance beauty and remove stress for a few hours.
A trip to Marrakesh also means enjoying one – or more – breaks in a hammam, true temple of wellbeing.
The choice is almost infinite, and it would be a shame to resist the temptation of trying them. There are traditional hammams, packed with locals and rich in charm and authentic atmospheres. And there is no shortage of spas designed to offer visitors an unforgettable experience, where luxury is the key and spaces are studied to offer all kinds of comfort, but where every detail is based on the most authentic soul of this ancient beauty ritual.
You can dip into the beautiful pools and enjoy any treatment your body might demand: do not miss the oil-based peeling treatment. Your skin will radiate health.
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