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January 29, 2011

Djemaa el Fna (Medina of Marrakech)

Djemaa el Fna (Arabic: جامع الفناء jâmiʻ al-fanâʼ), a square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter (old city). This Medina of Marrakech has been listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The place remains the main square of Marrakesh, used equally by locals and tourists. During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, youths with chained Barbary apes, water sellers in colourful costumes with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, and snake charmers who will pose for photographs for tourists. As the day progresses the entertainments on offer change: the snake charmers depart, and in the afternoon and evening the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such an entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of appreciative locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines. As dark descends the square fills with dozens of food-stalls, and the crowds are at their height.

I miss the most the alleys around  Medina Square, the narrow, old alleys. All the buildings in Marrakech is painted red, or more precisely, persimmon color. The whole town has only one color. So it's really hard for non-locals to tell where they're heading to..

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Surprisingly they grow grapes!

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Carpets for sale. But no space in my luggage to fit in any of these...

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A donkey or a mule?

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Lots of shopping you can do here. Remember to bargain. These people can spend time for bargaining. As the locals said, women usually stay indoor and the only time they spend outside is during shopping (including buying food and groceries). So they like to spend time bargaining, and enjoying it too.

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Steam rises from food stalls. The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, the traditional North African markets which service both the common daily needs of the people of the city, and the tourist trade. On other sides are cafe terraces to escape from the noise and confusion down in the square, and on yet other sides are hotels and gardens. Narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, the old city. The photograph illustrating this article shows the entrance to the souk at the left, cafes in the centre, and the entrance to the medina via the Street of the Olive (derb al zitoun) on the right.

Medina Square at night. Went back to Medina Square on the last night in Marrakech. There's basically only one place to go at night... besides clubbing. And we had the most expensive fried rice in my life somewhere here!

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Don't forget to drink orange juice. Freshly squeezed super sweet juicy orange! It's cheap too.

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...to be continued...


I like what Djemaa el-Fna and Marrakech offers me. But throughout my trip in Morocco last year, this is the least preferred place. The tourism activities is so overwhelmed that this place has lost its culture and charm (quoted my Morocco friend)...

One thing that I experienced was they'll give best deal if you tell them you're a Malaysian. The locals will be very excited and immediately reduce more of the price offered before. And they will say "I give you special price, Muslim price, my dear friend." and also "Malaysian are good people, we're all from Muslim countries."

Not really much place to visit at night, so we went back to the same old spot but buying different stuffs. I love the nicely painted shot glasses and tea set collection I bought. =)

Maybe I wasn't in shopping mode so what I got is "I hate Malaysian, you people don't buy stuff". Another ironic experience of myself is, friendly people I met in the city are all foreigners.

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