Try a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice - refreshing and extremely cheap!
Djemaa El Fna has been Marrakech’s main square for almost a thousand years. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, it is a lively place, and gets even livelier in the evening as Shilha dancing boys, magicians and storytellers appear to entertain a swelling crowd.
During the day, hundreds of delicious food and juice stalls fill the square; entertainers with chained monkeys and charmed snakes vie for your attention (and expect to be paid if you take photographs with their animals); horses and carriages come from all directions. It’s a sensory overload of sights, sounds and smells. Adjoining the market is a souk, and stalls also offer leather goods, brassware and other souvenirs.
The Square’s importance as a centre of Berber and other local heritage has won it the status of a UNESCO ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.’ Notable Marrakech resident and Spanish author Juan Goytisolo, who encouraged this categorisation, wrote eloquently on its unique charm and atmosphere. ‘The spectacle of Jamaa el Fna is repeated daily and each day it is different. Everything changes — voices, sounds, gestures, the public which sees, listens, smells, tastes, touches. The oral tradition is framed by one much vaster — that we can call intangible. The Square, as a physical space, shelters a rich oral and intangible tradition.’
Possibly referring to a courtyard in front of a now lost mosque or the Square's old role in public executions, the name Djemaa El Fna means something like 'assembly of death' or ‘mosque at the end of the world;' but today it remains a place that is very much full of life, and an unmissable stop on a journey to the soul of Marrakech.
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