Category Archives: Articles About Marrakech

The Secret Garden in Marrakesh

The Secret Garden in MarrakechOpposite the popular Café Arabe, in Marrakesh,  you will find yourself in paradise – a welcome rest especially after a day traipsing the dusty, narrow streets of the souks and being hustled by overzealous stallholders.

Le Jardin Secret was just that: a mysterious place that existed behind a 30ft-high wall deep in the medina of Marrakech.

This historic riad garden has been recreated and is now open to the public.

We would add it to our list of top ten things to see in Marrakech.

10 great reasons to visit The Secret Garden in Marrakech

  1. It is an historic site that features lovely gardens and a Palace.
  2. There is only one tower at The Secret Garden: its height exceeds certain minarets of the city! It offers stunning views over the rooftops of the medina and the Atlas Mountains. A great place to view Marrakech and its surroundings.
  3. There are several gardens including the new historic site “The Secret Garden”: the first garden is called “exotic” and collects plants from around the world and the second “Islamic”, symbolizes a representation of the Muslim paradise on earth.
  4. The Secret Garden features plants from the 5 continents
  5. The “Islamic” garden is divided into four beds separated by beautiful fountains
  6. There is a lovely terrace café where you can eat and stay for hours and hours
  7. There is a fabulous shop to buy interesting souvenirs of your visit.
  8. You will want to visit and revisit this natural setting within the Marrakech medina.
  9. Lovely place to take photographs
  10. It is not expensive

A bit of background from over the centuries:

16th century: Sultan Moulay Abdallah began the urbanization of the Mouassine district and erected a splendid palace on the ground of the current Secret Garden

19th century: After the destruction of the palace during the decline of the Saadian dynasty, the Qaid al-Hajj ‘Abd-Allah-U Bihi begins the reconstruction of the Palace following the plans and designs of the Saadian era. Lush gardens are planted near the new palace. Qaid is poisoned for political reasons by the Sultan Muhammad IV who hated him: the property returns to the hands of the qadi (judge) Moulay Mustapha.

1912: The judge exchanges his palace for the house of al-Hajj Muhammad Loukrissi, a resident in Fes head of the corporation of watchmakers of Marrakech. He lived there until 1934, the year of his death.

From 1934 to 2000: The land was no longer maintained and was gradually falling apart.

2008: The idea of restoring the garden and palace gains ground with a passionate team of history buffs interested in Marrakech.

2016: The Secret Garden is opened for the pleasure of travelers to Marrakech.

2017: There is already talk of night visits being organized … stay tuned.

The shop and café are open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission to the garden is 50 dirhams per person – 25 dirhams for Moroccan residents (ID required) – children enter for free.

Admission prices for a guided tour of the palace is 30 dirhams per person – children below 12 years of age 20 dirhams

The Secret Garden Marrakech

Mouassine street

Medina – Marrakech

Tel: +212 (0) 5 24 39 00 40

www.lejardinsecretmarrakech.com

 

Hassan Hajjaj, Moroccan artist

Hassan HajjajAvante-garde photogrpaher, artist Marrakech Moroccan avant-garde photographer and artist

Hassan Hajjaj may have relocated to London many moons ago, but he remains one of Morocco’s brightest photographers and artists. Born in Larache in 1961, today Hajjaj splits his time between Marrakech and London. Hajjaj is a self-taught artist whose work includes portraiture, installation, performance, fashion, and interior design. We love his colourful work and how he can turn Coca-Cola crates as stools and aluminum cans into lamps.

He remains best known for his studio portraits of friends, musicians, and artists, that are more like fashion photography or pop art, than mere snaps. In 2009, he was shortlisted for Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize for Islamic Art and he has exhibited all over the world from Dubai to Berlin, and Los Angeles to Tunisia. Keep an eye out for forthcoming exhibitions, and read more about his work here by Rose Issa, a well-known curator, writer and producer who has championed visual art and film from the Middle East for more than 30 years.

For information on Hassan’s artwork consult this site: http://www.artnet.com/artists/hassan-hajjaj/

Hassan Hajjaj store in Marrakech

Hassan Hajjaj artist in Marrakech

 

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Marrakesh TripAdvisor 2015 Travellers’ Choice

Marrakesh named world’s best destination in TripAdvisor 2015 Travellers’ Choice

  Menara gardens Marrakech Atlas mountains from Marrakech

The new Travelers’ Choice #1 Destination in the world is Marrakech

 

 

– described as a magical place, brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques.

busy square Place Jemaa el Fna

 

A wonderful juxtaposition of chaos and calm, modern and traditional, the exotic and the familiar –

 

 

 

Marrakech offers intimate courtyards and snaking alleyways in the old city, the historic medina – one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Medersa ben youssef Marrakech

 

 

 

Come and get lost here!  We’ll help you find your way amongst the alleyways and the teeming crowds.  Marrakesh street scene

Water carrier Marrakech

 

men in main square Place Jemaa el Fna Marrakesh

 

 

Then come back to our peaceful riad and understand the calm that also exists amidst the chaos. http://www.riadsapphire.com/suites.htm

http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Destinations

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/25/travel/tripadvisor-best-destinations-2015/

http://mashable.com/2015/03/24/tripadvisor-destinations-2015/

Why travel?

TRAVEL LEADS TO CULTURAL ENRICHMENT

According to a survey carried out by Tripadvisor published September 2014, the following was discovered:

Contrary to popular belief travellers are 9 times more likely to crave unique rather than pampered experiences.

We say: Have both in Marrakech – experience a unique and authentic stay in a riad in Marrakech AND be pampered – better than a 5 star hotel.

38% of global travellers – including 61% of UK travellers – expand their diets to include new foods from their travels.

We say: Try out fabulous Moroccan cuisine – a rising star in international cuisine – http://www.riadsapphire.com/blog/rise-of-moroccan-food.htm

Inside Koutoubia Mosque Marrakech

keyhole view from Koutoubia mosque Marrakesh

 

 

 

Moroccan style – old and new

riad sapphire and spa_riad in Marrakech_courtyard
Grand patio Riad Sapphire and Spa in Marrakech

For your stay in the ever-fascinating, exotic city of Marrakesh live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina.  At Riad Sapphire & Spa we have adopted a colonial 30’s style, but updated for the new century, in a blend of modern architecture with traditional Moroccan architecture. The interior design also is a mix of Western and Eastern, modern and ancient.
Take the glass panelling in the large courtyard with our pool (using solar energy to heat), instead of a traditional forged metal railing, we’ve rendered it in glass but had the beautiful traditional pattern etched onto the glass. The result is a clean look that allows more light to penetrate the loggia/arcade area of the riad.
In keeping with our colonial 30s theme, we have a ceiling fan in the salon – but used Moroccan craftsmanship to make it a little different.  We purchased leather from the suqs and found a leather craftsman to cut and cover the fan blades and support rod – voilà an old idea updated.
In the rooms we have hand-cut metal ceiling lampshades that cast wonderful patterns on the surrounding surfaces.  In the courtyards and arcades we decided on a more modern take on metal lampshades – we only had to show our metal craftsman, Mohamed, a sample and he faithfully executed the designs.  Again, at night these lampshades throw entrancing shadows on the white walls.

 

riad in marrakech_riad_spa in marrakesh_boutique hotel
Sitting room in Riad Sapphire, Marrakech

All the furniture and most of the décor, e.g. tables, sofas, banquettes, lampshades, rugs, artwork, decorative cushions, etc. have been locally made using skilled craftsmen. We’ve done a series of videos outlining the work of some of these craftspeople – see our blog – to watch how wood is turned without using electricity, how the beautiful cut metal lampshades are fashioned, how the fabrics used in some of the draperies are woven and more.
Marrakech is modern, ancient, exciting, interesting, vibrant, innovative, exotic and it has over 300 days of sunshine per year.  Don’t wait to visit!
Come and stay with us – live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina of Marrakech.  Book directly online via our secure site and get an extra bonus www.riadsapphire.com

Tips for travellers to Marrakech

We’re often asked for advice on how best to enjoy Marrakech. So we’ve compiled a small guide letting you know:

Best place to go to see the real Marrakech
Best place to buy souvenirs
Average cost of a meal
What you should not miss
What tourists should absolutely not do
Full text on this link: http://riadsapphire.com/things-to-do-in-marrakech/

For more information, tips for a pleasant, FAQs about Marrakesh, health-related, good time of year to go to Marrakesh, look at our blog posts:

http://chic-riads-marrakech.com/category/faqs/

Marrakech_water seller_short film on Marrakech_Suki Mokcoussin-berberes sissimorocco marrakesh

 

Fifty cities Marrakech number 7

 

Marrakech main square, Place Jemaa el Fna' , food stalls, night in Marrakesh

Most people could only dream of visiting 50 of the best cities in the world in a lifetime, but if you did set yourself this particular travel mission, for sure Marrakech would make the list.

We have been pondering our own choices recently, as last week the Huffington Post listed their must-see 50 cities, and the results we quite surprising. At number one was Venice and at 50 was Budapest – not bad but everyone would have an opinion of course on what should be at number one (Marrakech!!).

Still, in at a very respectable number 7 – sandwiched between London and Petra – is our own, Marrakech.

The page describes the city as a ‘maze-like corridors full of vibrant souks, stunning architecture, and bubbling tagines around every corner.’

Follow the link below to pictures and more inspiration:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minube/the-top-50-cities-to-see_b_5547308.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

 

 

Travelling to Marrakech?

Marrakech – pack light, pack well

marrakesh-zara-fashion-travel

Marrakech often causes much huffing and puffing when it comes to packing for a holiday. It’s hot, it’s a Muslim country (which means covering up) but it’s also a place of great style. So, how to tick all the boxes (conservative but chic and cool?).

The Telegraph tackled the packing conundrum last week and covered the best buys for a trip to Marrakech.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africaandindianocean/morocco/10667549/Marrakesh-what-to-pack-and-shopping-tips.html

We love the blue Zara trousers (bold but loose and cool) and the Classic Fedora rollable – Brisa Weave Grade 8 hat. We agree that a good sun hat is essential and this one is fairtrade and is built to last. We also love the tip: ‘Head to Souk Chouari for sweet-smelling cedar-wood furniture. In the likely event that your luggage allowance will not accommodate one of the pretty folding side tables, buy a small trinket instead.’

We suggest you leave the Gap leather tote bag though. Nice as it is – you will find better and cheaper at the leather section of the souk when you arrive.

 

 

 

 

Marrakech for fashion shoots

Marrakech models

Angela-Lindvall_fashion-Marrakech

Fashion shoots regularly take place in chic Marrakech. Palaces, souks and riads often host models and their entourages. It’s no wonder, with the honeyed light, the elaborate costumes that Marrakech is known for and the exoticism that the city still evokes.

One of the most inspirational, and downright beautiful, ones we’ve stumbled across is this one, originally shot for Porter magazine:
http://www.thisisglamorous.com/2014/06/editorial-angela-lindvall-tom-craig-porter-magazine/

There are more shots here.
http://www.designscene.net/2014/04/angela-lindvall-porter-magazine-tom-craig.html

The model is Angela Lindvall, an American model and occasional actress. She has appeared in several films including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

 

Wanderlust Magazine visits Marrakech

wanderlust-marrakech-stories

The readers of everyone’s favourite travel magazine, Wanderlust, recently sent in all their best shots of Marrakech to the magazine which have recently published them.

The response was impressive. The magazine says: ‘When we asked Wanderlust readers to send us their favourite photos of Marrakech, we were overwhelmed by the shots’ character, energy and atmosphere. This gallery showcases just some of the brilliant snaps, so head to the MyWanderlust photography page for the full selection…’

This of course proves that Marrakech is simply one of the best places in the world to hone photography skills.

We agree that the readers took some truly wonderful snaps. Have a look through the online portfolio here:

http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/magazine/photography/visions-of-marrakech-wanderlust-readers-photos/medersa-ben-youssef/2336