The rose gardens of
At the souk of Marrakesh
We met our guide, Lahtif and began our tour by walking past the
rose gardens to visit the Koutoubia mosque and minaret (12th century), the
highest building in the city. Non-Muslims can't go inside the mosque. It is only
open for prayer. The wooden pole on to of minaret points to Mecca. The name
Koutoubia comes from the word kutub, which means book. The mosque was built on
the site of a former booksellers market. Dar al Hazar, the remains of a mosque
next to Koutoubia, was destroyed for political reasons. It was built by the
Bedouins in the 11th century, and destroyed by the Berbers.
Ramadan prayers at the Koutoubia are attended by 20,000
people, many of whom have to pray outside, and the streets are closed for that
The Kasbah, 13th century, is the site of the Saadian Tombs. There
are separate rooms for kings, princess and queens. The people who served the
king were buried outside. The tombs were covered with beautiful mosaic tiles.
Next, we drove thru the Jewish quarter to Bahia Palace, a riad on
steroids. It was built in the 19th century for Bou-Ahmed's 4 wives and 24
concubines and their many children. Each wife had a room on one side of a
courtyard. The tile and painted decorations were outstanding, particularly
around the doorways and ceiling.
cafe had the pictures of the king and the beloved queen. For her
involvement in fight for cancer, she is much loved and respected through
out Morocco. After a coffees stop, we walked thru the souks, starting with a
carpentry area. We saw the oldest monument in the city, consisting of the 12th
century ruins of fountains and baths below the current street level. We visited
the spice market, with cactus flowers, natural dyes, cosmetics and spices, where
we made large contributions to the economy of Morocco. We continued thru the
souk, and saw the leather auction area. Lahtif predicted that the auction will
not exist in 5 years.
After walking thru the main plaza, Jemaa el Fna, we stopped for a
late lunch, saw some snake charmers, and headed back to the bus.