Photos of the Marrakech Medina rarely do the atmosphere justice, because you really have to hear, see and smell the city for the full impact. Marrakech is one of Morocco's imperial cities. The Medina is the old, walled part of town where life continues much as it has for hundreds of years. Mopeds battle for the right of way with donkeys in the narrow alleyways filled with shops selling steel, wool and live chickens. The main thoroughfares are crammed with shoppers, tourists and kids going to school.
Tucked away in all corners of the Marrakech Medina, you'll find Riads (traditional houses) that have been lovingly restored and turned into exquisite boutique hotels. The heart of the Medina is the Djemma el Fna, the main square, which transforms itself every night as hundreds of stalls are set up to provide cheap and delicious fresh food. After dinner you can watch snake charmers, fortune-tellers and story-tellers perform until the early hours of dawn.
Chickens for Sale, Medina, Marrakech
Live chickens are bought to take home and then slaughter. You'll see people carrying chickens home on mopeds, in buses and taxis. If you hang a chicken upside down by its feet it stays totally calm and is easily transportable.
Music Shop, Medina, Marrakech
Music Shop is home to a number of interesting instruments, including a copper trumpet-like instrument which handily folds up and is small enough to easily fit into a suitcase.
Spinning Yarn from Wool, Medina, Marrakech
The medina is comprised of many different souqs (markets) traditionally divided up by trade. So, while you're walking around, you'll come upon different areas where you'll see carpenters at work, or metal workers and in this case, yarn makers. The wool is spun by hand, and then brought to the dye souq (conveniently located nearby) to get dyed in the appropriate colors, often using natural dyes.
Carpenter, Medina, Marrakech
Some of the old Funduq's (Caravanserais) that were used by traders as hotels and stables hundreds of years ago, are used today to house carpenters, metal workers and other shops. This photo is of a man demonstrating his technique of making a small wooden peg at an old Funduq.
Herbs and Spices for Sale, Medina, Marrakech
Herbs and spices make a colorful display in the medina.
Food stalls, Djemma el Fna
Dinner on the Djemma el Fna is a must when you visit the Medina in Marrakech. From delicious kebabs to a tasty sheep head -- it's all there for you to pick and choose from. Be prepared for the hard sell as stall owners jostle and compete to seat you at their particular stall. Take your time and enjoy the game with a smile, it's all in good fun. A meal here shouldn't set you back more than $8.
Djemma el Fna at Night, Medina, Marrakech
You have to spend at least one night on the Djemma el Fna. It's really a highlight of any visit to the Marrakech medina. Rooftop restaurants are perfect places to sip some tea and watch the entertainment below. There are snake charmers, story-tellers, fortune-tellers, dancing monkeys, ladies applying decorative henna -- it's a medieval party every night.
Tile Shop, Medina, Marrakech
The tile work in Morocco is incredible and much of it comes from little shops like this where the artisan makes and paints the tiles in the traditional manner.
Antique shop in the Medina
You can get some good deals on antiques in the Medina, but you really have to know what you're looking for.
Courtyard of the Riad Kniza
The Riad Kniza is a wonderful place to stay in Marrakech. It is a very friendly, family run Riad in a great location.The owners are very helpful and staff are extremely personable. The room prices are at the higher end of the scale, but the water and fruits are complimentary, and the breakfast is delicious on the rooftop terrace. A really classy place to stay.
Breakfast Served at La Maison Arabe
Doors, Medina, Marrakech
Everywhere you look in the Medina, you find something beautiful and hand made. You can spend at least a whole day just looking at the doors.
Courtyard of the Maison Mnabha, Marrakech
This is one of Lonely Planet's top picks of places to stay in the Medina, it's the Maison Mnabha which is very reasonably priced and is located near the souqs and the Djemma el Fna. The owner is a friendly English man who has lived in the Medina for many years and offers a wealth of information. It's not as fancy as some of the upmarket Riads but it's beautiful nevertheless.