Website Category: Fortified Cities of the Maghreb
Area: 11.0 km2
Criteria: (i) a creative masterpiece (ii) interchange of values (iv) icon of an era (v) interaction with the environment
Location and Values: The Medina of Marrakech is located in the shadow of the high Atlas Mountains of central Morocco, about 250 km south of Casablanca. It was founded in the early years of the Almoravid dynasty, around 1062-70 with the first 7km circuit of walls built in 1126-27 to replace an earlier stockade of thorn bushes. It enjoyed a ‘golden age’ later in the 12th century, under the Almohad dynasty (1145-1250) when the famous Koutoubia Minaret was built. The fortunes of the city have waxed and waned over the centuries, but include several periods of notable architectural achievement, under the Saadian rulers (1510-1669) (when the Saadian tombs and the El Badi Palace were built) and the later Alawite dynasty (when the Menara and Agdal Gardens were re-designed and laid out as they remain today, 1822-59).
Marrakech remains a vibrant city, steeped in history and something of a pleasure-ground. Nowhere is this more apparent than the central square – the Djemaa El Fna – the haunt of story-tellers and acrobats, dancers and traditional healers, entertainers and musicians. Leading off the square is a maze of alleyways and small squares where the main markets (souks) are located, and , a little further afield notable monuments include the Ben Youssef mosque and medersa, Saadian tombs, El Badi and Bahia palaces. Also included in the world heritage property are the irrigated Agbal and Menara Gardens, with their formal pools and pavilions, located some distance away from the medina.
Slideshow of the Medina Of Marrakech: The slideshow starts with the impressive blue granite gateway of Bab Agnaou, and some pictures of Marrakech’s massive exterior walls. It then shows the imposing square Koutoubia Minaret, which established the standard proportions (1:5 width:height) for such structures. There follow a selection of pictures of the massive El Badi Palace and the elaborately decorated Saadian tombs, then a few pictures of the main pool, pavilion and olive trees at the Menara Gardens. Back within the Medina, some of the entertainers and night-time food stalls in the main Djemaa El Fna square are shown, and some scenes from the souks and alleys leading off the square. Pictures of three of the most impressive buildings in the northern part of the medina complete the slideshow – the Ben Yousseff Medersa, the Almoravid Koubba (the only Almoravid building to survive intact in Morocco), and the Dar Mnebbi, a magnificent 19th century palace that houses the Marrakesh museum.
Slideshow of the Medina Of Marrakech:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Medina of Marrakech on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details