Djemaa El Fna Square

Teeming with dancers, musicians and snake-charmers, this chaotic plaza is the beating heart of Marrakech.

TravelCurious Tip

Try a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice - refreshing and extremely cheap!

A treat for the senses

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.


Marrakech magic

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.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Marrakech
The Medina
Enclosed by ancient walls, the oldest quarter of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Souks
A labyrinth of spices, food and eye-catching goods, these bustling markets are the colourful essence of Morocco.
Tagine
Tagine is a traditional North African Berber dish, named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Communal Bread Ovens
Most homes in the medina don’t have the luxury of an oven, so bread is baked communally instead.
Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret
The largest mosque in the city, Koutoubia’s minaret has inspired architecture throughout North Africa.
The Almoravid Koubba
Just south of the Ben Youssef Mosque, this small shrine is the oldest monument in Marrakech.

Related Tours

The Best of Marrakech: Private Half-Day Highlights Tour
Experience the exotic sights, smells, and sounds of Marrakech, a thrumming, vivid city in Western Morocco, famous for its imperial past and Moorish minaret of the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. 

On your private tour, you will:

  • Discover the fascinating roots of this former Imperial City with its grand dome-topped mosques, towering minarets, lavish gardens, and medieval walls;
  • Enjoy the buzz of the Bazaar and its maze of cobbled alleyways where crowds gather around stalls of richly woven rugs, coffee pots, jewellery, and shawls;
  • Admire the Royal Residences at Bahia Palace still used by Morocco’s King as you explore the luxuriously appointed ornate rooms that once housed the Vizier Ahmed’s 4 wives and 24 concubines;
  • Marvel at the Ancient Tombs - a stark contrast to the palace's opulence;
  • Wander through the crumbling remains of nearby Badi Palace once home to royalty;
  • Explore the spooky atmosphere of the darkened necropolis of ancient Marrakech’s mausoleums, the elaborately carved Saadian Tombs;
  • Stroll past beautiful mosaic-clad riads and leafy courtyards as you soak up Marrakech’s ambience;
  • Visit the famed towering spire of the Koutoubia minaret from which the melodic calls to prayer sound five times daily, to draw worshipers into the Mosque.

Founded around 1062 by the Almoravids, Marrakech has been home to Berbers since the Neolithic era, and is one of Morocco’s four Imperial Cities, along with Méknes, Fes and Rabat. By the 12th century, it had become the capital of the Almohad caliphate sprawling across Africa and encompassing Spain. 

During this period, Marrakech was blessed with its thick, red sandstone walls - an architectural influence carved with great domes and arches that blended styles from the Sahara and West Africa to create a unique, fine-looking settlement dubbed the “Red City”. 

Over the centuries, Marrakech flourished as a cultural, religious and trading centre, the home of wealthy sultans, chic French colonists, vast palatial complexes and opulent mansions. Today, the French language is still spoken by many Moroccans. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, Marrakech became a Shangri-La for curious pleasure-seekers, beat poets, writers and rock legends who sought spiritual enlightenment on a pilgrimage along the so-called hippy trail. Today this Kasbah city evokes a magical mix of an aged past and forward-thinking present, blending European influences and moderate ideologies with a proud Islamic heart that still beats to an ancient rhythm. 

Marrakech may be home to some of the world’s most sumptuous small hotels yet it uses a thousand-year-old irrigation system and it is these seductive contrasts that make it such an alluring city.
Marrakech in a Day: Private All-Inclusive Full-Day Tour
Experience the exhilarating riot of sights, sounds and smells of the ancient city of Marrakech. Bubbling with irrepressible energy, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. Filled with UNESCO World Heritage designated palaces, mosques and markets it is situated on the edge of the Sahara Desert and nestled at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. 

On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • Enjoy the personal attention of your expert private guide, with private transport included throughout;
  • Immerse yourself in the historic yet buzzing atmosphere of the souks, cobblestone alleyways, palaces and mosques of the Medina before seeking out the tranquil, sweet-smelling gardens beyond the walls;
  • Pass outside the city’s largest mosque, the highly-decorated Koutoubia Mosque with its 77-metre minaret (253 feet);
  • See the fortune-tellers, snake charmers, poets, and storytellers on the historic square Jemma el Fna; 
  • Discover the cultural importance of Marrakech’s UNESCO World Heritage sites;
  • Visit the Bahia Palace ‘The Beautiful’ (tickets included) a stunning, and sprawling, architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Medina, built in the 19th century;
  • Watch the silk spinners, spice sellers, rug stalls and basket weavers at work in the Souks of the Medina;
  • Have a go at haggling in the souks! 
  • Wander around the beautifully preserved ruins of the 16th-century El Badi Palace, constructed for Sultan, Ahmad al-Mansur, of the Saadian dynasty (tickets included);
  • Visit the only surviving remains of the Saadian dynasty (1524-1659), and admire the intricately decorated sepulchres of the Saadian Tombs;
  • Learn about the construction of the ramparts using Pisé, a reddish-pink clay, which glows spectacularly in the setting sun;
  • Enjoy the enchanting gardens of Jardin Majorelle created by French painter Jacques Majorelle (tickets included);
  • Finish back at your hotel, or drop off at a central location of your choice.

Marrakech is where Europe, Africa and the Middle East intermingle in an exhilarating riot of noise, smells and colour that defines the character of the great city of the Maghreb. Founded a thousand years ago, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, it is famous for the colourful pinkish hues of its walls and palaces, framed dramatically by the surrounding snow-dusted peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. 

Your full-day private tour of Marrakech begins in the historic Medina, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Wander through the puzzle of historic streets, and maze of cobbled back alleys; experience the vibrant hustle and bustle and bartering at the souks, and the displays of street charmers, fortune-tellers and poets at the renowned Jemma el-Fna. Step back in time as you witness the mules towing pushcarts piled high with saleable wares, and admire the fine historic palaces juxtaposed to these street scenes. 

You will visit the renowned Koutoubia Mosque, the Bahia Palace ‘the Beautiful’, and the ruins of the Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs. You’ll also pass by the famous Ben Youssef Medersa, all of them steeped in ancient stories. 

After lunch, take a luxury private transfer to the Majorelle Gardens (tickets included). 
This is a stunning and unique 2.5-acre garden designed and created over a period of 40 years by the French artist Jacques Majorelle. Wander through this tranquil place with its marble pools, banana trees, cubist villa, coconut palms, raised pathways and peaceful groves of bamboo: a tranquil contrast to the sights and sounds of the morning!  Your guide and driver can return you to your hotel or drop you off at a location of your choice. 
Immersive Marrakech Experience: Cooking Class, Hammam & Massage
Discover a myriad of Marrakech’s wonders on this full-day private experience, including a guided tour of the city’s highlights, a delicious food tasting, a cooking class and traditional Moroccan lunch, and afterwards relax in a luxurious traditional Hammam. 

On your private tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy a private vehicle throughout the day for a hassle-free experience;
  • Explore the highlights of the Medina— the beautiful, bustling old town;
  • Walk around the famous Djemaa El Fna Square and pass by Koutoubia Mosque;
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the souks and food markets.
  • Soak up the sights, smells, and sounds of Marrakech!
  • Enjoy a delicious food-tasting tour, stopping at the famous street food vendors;
  • Take part in a fabulously tasty cooking class for lunch;
  • Enjoy traditional, refreshing Moroccan teas including mint, wormwood, sage, wild thyme, and geranium;
  • Spend the afternoon relaxing in an iconic Hammam, a long-standing tradition in Moroccan culture;
  • Enjoy a traditional Morrocan Massage with argan oil;
  • Return to your hotel by private transfer. 

Bustling Marrakech is a byword for joyous chaos: a crowded tangle of souks, a maze of cobbled alleyways, and jostling vendors vying for trade. 

On this full-day experience, you will discover the myriad of marvels that Marrakech can boast! After being picked up from your hotel, begin with a guided walking tour of the Medina with your expert English-speaking private guide. The Medina is the medieval centre of Marrakech, filled with markets and open-air stalls, souks, traders, snake charmers, and so much more! Take in the vibrant atmosphere filled with plumes of grill smoke and the beguiling melody of the snake charmer’s flute amidst the throngs of people. Cries for custom echo around a zillion stalls piled high with spices, live chickens, richly-woven rugs, coffee pots, and silken slippers. 

Next, your guide will show you around the vast Djemaa El Fna Square for a food-tasting tour of the thousands of street food vendors. Morocco’s favourite spices are cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika, coriander, saffron, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek and caraway to name a few. 

Marrakech cuisine is diverse and peppered with a unique mix of cultures. Your chef, a veteran of private dining experiences, will teach you how to create a delicious lunch. Each dish blends Berber staples with Arabic nuts and dried fruit, the cooking styles of the Ottoman Turks and the olives and citrus fruits of the Moors with plenty of Gallic culinary twists. 

Family, kinship, and the warmth of shared meals are highly prized in Moroccan life and are as central to the culture as another ancient tradition: the indulgent and sensuous Hammam. 

After lunch, you will be taken to a traditional Hammam, and spend the afternoon relaxing in the aromatic steam baths with Moroccan botanicals such as rose, patchouli, jasmine, geranium, bergamot, and eucalyptus. 

In ancient times, a copper gong sounded at dawn, heralding the opening of the baths. Today the gongs have long gone, yet the baths remain an integral part of the social fabric of Marrakech communities. Interiors are largely unchanged by time, with dazzling wall-to-ceiling tiled mosaics, ornate gilded domes and gleaming marble. 

Note: Please be sure to bring swim trunks, and a towel for the hammam experience. You can leave these in the vehicle throughout the day before the hammam experience.
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