Morocco is one of those places that I feel should be on everyone’s vacation bucket list. We traveled there back in 2018 and as an artist and pattern designer, it was a truly inspiring place.
And it’s why I was excited to have an opportunity to return for an art retreat hosted in Marrakech. But sadly due to the surge in COVID cases this Fall, it had to be postponed until late next year. Still, even just the potential promise of a return to Morocco made me really nostalgic so today’s post is the beginning of a new photo diary series.
I’ll be sharing memories and photos of popular Moroccan cities from my vantage point as an artist over the next few months, starting today with the red city – Marrakech.
Marrakech (Marrakesh with an “s” is also correct) is the most popular tourist destination in Morocco. It has a rich history, friendly people, and stunning architecture.
And even though Marrakech wasn’t my favorite city on our tour through Morocco, this international, vibrant city is definitely still worth a visit… or two.
As always, one of the first things I notice wherever I am are patterns, and Marrakech (like ALL of Morocco) was chock full of them.
The palace and gardens were built in the late 1800s in the center of Marrakech and not surprisingly, it’s most well known for its decoration.
And yes, it’s crowded, especially if you are there at midday like we were, but it’s well worth it to mingle through the gardens and rooms, getting inspired by the countless patterns, detailed ornamentation, and lush plant life.
If you want to avoid the crowds, my suggestion is to show up near opening or closing (it’s open from 9am-4:45pm daily, except holidays).
Also, make sure to give yourself a few hours as there’s a lot to see, especially if you’re a pattern enthusiast like me. We were on a tour, so it was a whirlwind 30 minute stop inside the palace, but I’d gladly go back and explore some more.
It’s often touted as “the place to see” if you only have time to do 1 thing in Marrakech. Several fellow artists really hyped it up before my visit saying I’d be totally taken with the place, but I have to be honest, I was underwhelmed. Yes, the grounds are lovely and there’s lots of bold color (which I did love). But it was overcrowded, small, and didn’t meet my expectations based on my friends’ enthusiastic endorsement of it.
My favorite part was actually the Berber Museum housed inside the house itself. If I was to visit the property again to be inspired, I’d head straight for the museum. Sadly, photographs aren’t permitted inside, so I can’t show you any of the amazing Berber armor or jewelry on display there. But just a quick Google search for “traditional Berber jewelry” will give you a glimpse of what you can see in person.
Overall, the Jardin Majorelle is a worthwhile place to visit, especially if you enjoy textured gardens and historical artifacts. But you just have to be aware of the large crowds of Instagram influencers taking selfies in the garden.
Between learning about the spice trade, watching a homemade batch of Moroccan mint tea being brewed from start to finish (it’s quite the production), and learning to make chicken tagine from scratch – the whole experience was a feast for all the senses.
This was before we were vegetarians mind you, but I’d gladly go back for another class. Luckily, Moroccan food is very vegetarian-friendly and places are usually extremely accommodating, so I know we’d have no problem finding things to eat the next time we return.
This ancient necropolis was beautiful and the ornamentation of the tombs was literally from floor to ceiling. It’s definitely worth a visit in person, although I found it difficult to get great photos capturing the tombs. That would require a wide-angle lens and a tripod for good measure to fully capture its beauty.
This bustling square is at the heart of the Marrakech medina. Its central location makes it a very walkable area. From there it’s a short walk to take a tour of Ben Youssef Madrasa (a historic Islamic college), meander through the many souks and haggle with vendors, or get a great view of the Kutubiyya Mosque minaret (the most iconic tower in Morocco).
Overall, Marrakech was a lovely place to end our tour of Morocco, but with only 2.5 days there I know we barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. So I can say with almost certainty that I’ll probably be back for another visit in the near future!
And if you’re interested in the Marrakech art retreat, there are still spaces available for the November 2022 trip. I’m not an affiliate or sponsor of it, just a fan of the two ladies who are running it. And sadly I had to cancel my spot due to scheduling conflicts with the new dates, but if it means someone else who’s passionate about art and culture has an opportunity to fall in love with Morocco like I did, I’m totally content with that.