The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Medina of Marrakech - Morocco

Map showing the location of the Medina of Marrakech UNESCO world heritage site, Morocco

Website Category: Fortified Cities of the Maghreb  

Area: 11.0 km2 

Inscribed: 1985

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.

Links to other places featuring fortified cities of the Maghreb:  Beni Hammad  I  Algiers  I  Fez  I   Meknes  I  Tetouan  I  Tunis  I  Kerkuane  I  Kairouan  I  Sousse

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

The imposing Koutoubia minaret dominates the Medina of Marrakech UNESCO world heritage site, Morocco The magnificent blue granite gateway into the kasbah, Bab Agnaou at the Medina of Marrakech UNESCO world heritage site, Morocco The souks north of Djemaa el Fna in the Medina of Marrakech UNESCO world heritage site, Morocco View of the central courtyard of the Ben Youssef Medersa in the Medina of Marrakech UNESCO world heritage site, Morocco



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