Marrakech, which is known as the "Pearl of the South" or the "Red City", is located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. It was founded in 1062 by the King of the Almoravid dynasty. The "Red City" grew rapidly to become an influential cultural and religious centre. In 1147, the Almohads took over the city and built many palaces and religious edifices such as the famous Koutoubia Mosque, the emblem of the City of Marrakech. In the early XVIth century, sumptuous palaces and historical monuments, which are the source of the historical and cultural wealth of the city, were built during the reign of the Saadian sultans.
Marrakech, the "Red City," which is described as a "thousand-and-one nights dream," is the leading tourist centre of the Kingdom of Morocco. In 2011, it recorded 5 003 833 person-nights, representing 30% of person-nights at the national level. It is famous for its culture, climate, arts, traditions and architectural heritage which is steadily attracting a large number of renowned artists.
Tourist Sites and Historical Monuments
Koutoubia (Booksellers' Mosque): the 77 metre-high Koutoubia Minaret was completed in 1196. Richly ornamented decors, interlaced designs, and green and white ceramics strew its four sides. It is brightened up with a lantern and three copper balls, the first and largest of which is 6 metres in diameter, making it an infallible reference point in Marrakech.
Jemma-el-Fna is a square situated between the Koutoubia Souk and Mosque. This tourist destination continues to attract more than a million visitors who come to watch the performances of snake charmers, monkey trainers, storytellers, musicians and other popular artists (games, henna designs, etc.). In 2001, UNESCO included the Jemaa el-Fna Cultural Square in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Around five o'clock in the evening, the scene changes. People come from all directions with mobile canteens as well as tables, chairs and tarpaulins to set up restaurants at the Square, where one can find anything one wants to eat: couscous, kebabs, salads, soups, tagines, etc.
The Marrakech souks are very famous places in Morocco where artisans meet. They spread over and intermix in the Marrakech Medina. They include: the Tallendiers Souk where artisans produce items crafted from red and yellow copper with remarkable skill; Souk Ahiak: a fabric and garment market; Souk Attatine: a brasswork market; Souk Cherratines: leather goods market; Souk Chouari: market for basket weavers and wood turners; Souk Dlala: djellaba auction market; Souk El Kebir: a leather goods market; Souk Eloustat: a market for fabrics, wool, wooden cutlery, etc.; Souk Haddaddines: blacksmiths’ market; Souk les Tamis: a market where chandeliers and wrought iron lamps are sold; Souk Moulay Ali: various workshops; Souk Nejjarines: woodwork market; Souk Smata: slipper market; Souk Zrabia: market for leather goods, carpets and caftans; Souk Kassabine: spice market; Souk des bijoutiers, etc.
Menara is a large olive tree garden about 45 minutes’ walk away from Jamaa El Fna. At the centre of this garden, there is a large basin at the foot of a pavilion that serves as a water reservoir used to irrigate crops. It is a very quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Therefore, it is ideal for an outing. Water from mountains situated about 30 km from Marrakech is channelled to the basin with the help of a hydraulic system that is more than 700 years old. Water from the basin is used to irrigate the olive orchard.
Oukaimeden is Morocco’s main ski resort. It is situated 74 km from Marrakech on a high plateau that is part of the High Atlas mountain chain. The ski area, which is more than 3 000 metres above sea level, covers about 300 hectares on the northern flank of Oukaïmeden. Above the ski resort, the automatic MOSS telescope, which was installed recently at the Oukaimeden Astronomical Observatory, recently discovered its first near-earth asteroid.
Weather Conditions During the Annual Meetings (May 2013)
May is springtime in Marrakech. Clouds and rains become increasingly rare and temperatures fairly high. The average temperature is 22° C, while the minimum temperature is 18° C.