Rarely can you feel a city’s rich history and culture as viscerally as you can in Marrakech, home of tall tales and everyday wonders.
It’s there in the crazy maze of covered market streets, where you’ll find yourself pressed against the ancient stones to let donkeys and teenagers on mopeds and blind beggars past. Here, in these tiny workshops and storehouses, haggling is an elegant battle of wits, so never accept the starting price for those intricately tooled leather sandals, or that knock-off Armani aftershave.
If the souks of Old Marrakech are the city’s veins, then the square is its feverishly beating heart. Leave your guidebooks at home and throw yourself into the melee. Here snake charmers work the crowds while healers tout their love potions. And don’t worry if you’re put off by the local delicacy of sheep’s brains – the delicately spiced tagines and pigeon pies taste all the better for being cooked out in the open air, and for being washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice or hot, sweet mint tea.
If you’re after something a little stronger, head to one of the swanky hotel bars that cater to the city’s tourists and non-believers. The most exclusive offer hamams - steam rooms - and rooftop views as well as perfectly mixed cocktails. Meanwhile, boutique riads in the old town provide a stylish escape from the heat and crowds of the city’s streets, while staying true to local traditions of craftsmanship.
That legacy of art and architecture can be seen most spectacularly at Bahia Palace, a residence fit for a Vizier. Equally unmissable is the Koutoubia Minaret. Here old and new Marrakesh vies for your attention, as the youths hawking their pirated DVDs fall silent as the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer.