Friday, January 8, 2016

Marrakech! - Day 9

Many desert plants in the garden
Cell disguise
Marrakech - A city that has always seemed exotic and far away. It's actually quite delightful, busy, active and interesting. We started off meeting our local guide, Zabida, who was witty and very knowledgeable and heading to the Majorelle Gardens. It was built by a French artist, Jacque Majorelle, but after his death, it was rescued and refurbished by his friend, Yves Saint Laurent. It's tiny but amazing with the paths around the pools and buildings, with plants from numerous locations brought together. It would have been stunning in the spring or summer with the promise of so much color. It included a small museum with information about the Berber tribes, dress, jewelry and way of life. Very interesting excursion into an unknown world. 

Koutoubia Mosque

From there we visited the Koutoubia mosque. This mosque has an interesting history. It was first built upon the grounds of a palace, owned by the now defeated ruler. Well…it was later determined that is was misaligned towards Mecca (off by 5 degrees) so the decision was made by the latest victors to build a new one, aligned correctly. It was an exact replica of the first mosque only now, it was determined in the future…it was 10 degrees off. Apparently both mosques stood together for 30 years before the first one was finally destroyed.

Sultan's tomb
Women's tomb
From there we headed to the Saadian Tombs, the burial site for the sultan and selected members of the dynasty from the 1500's. Men only, of course. The women were buried in a separate section of the tombs. The tombs have been restored and much of the area is being worked on.

We wandered through the medina, the marketplace, and watched so many men working on handmade pieces. Again, it was amazing! We finally had lunch at a rooftop cafe where we found a terrific view of the open centers of  a number of homes. The places here are quite literally built on top of each other. Homes have no windows in these cities. All the natural lighting comes from a hole in the roof directly onto a patio inside the house. While a number of them are now covered, some are still open to the sky - and the necessity to deal with rain inside your home. 

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