Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech - a 'Masterpiece of World Heritage'

Sunday, January 19, 2014

In 2001 Unesco declared the night markets of Marrakech in Djaama El-Fna Square a 'Masterpiece of World Heritage. And visiting this famous square - it was easy to see why. Djemaa El-Fna is where the action's at!

By day Djemaa El-Fna is a slightly more 'calm' affair...

... well... calm if you find snake charmers, monkey handlers, teeth pullers, henna tattooists, fortune tellers and more fairly normal! There was also lots of fun and games to be played too - including a game where you had to balance a lead doughnut attached to a pole and string around the top of  soft-drink bottle.

Locals walk through Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech
Djemaa El-Fna by day

Playing a game in Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

As well as the never ending sources of entertainment within Djemaa El-Fna we also watched hundreds of locals wander through the square on their way to Koutoubia Mosque - just 200 metres away on Avenue Mohammed V, so we headed that way too. And I would recommend doing this to see the ornamented curved windows and decorative arches up close.

Koutoubia Mosque - Marrakech
Koutoubia Mosque

However - the real Djemaa El-Fna magic happened at night - when at about 7pm resourceful night stall holders transformed the square into an open air restaurant in less than five minutes. Tents went up, tables were put out, food began to cook and the hungry customers arrived.

Djemaa El-Fna night market - Marrakech

As I said in my favourite travel moments of 2013 post - eating at Djemaa El-Fna is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've seen many travel inspiring documentaries on telly over the years, and wanted to experience the chaos myself.

And the experience didn't disappoint. From the unique and slightly shocking sales pitches the restaurant owners yelled at us - "no diarrhoea for two years", to the amazing variety of food on display... sheep's brain, prawns, kebab meats, bread, soup, potatoes stuffed with egg, fish, stews, tagines, dried fruit and orange juice... we had a fantastic time.

Cook in a temporary stall kitchen - Djemaa El-Fna night market - Marrakech

Dried fruit stall - Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

Orange juice stall - Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

Djemaa El-Fna has a very festive feel at night, and we joined all the other punters wandering around checking out the sights and food.

Happy punters - Djemaa El-Fna night market - Marrakech

When we finally choose a stall to eat we were sung into our seats by the waiters. So much fun! And we were lucky enough to be seated next to nice German couple whom we swapped travel stories and recommendations with throughout our meal.

Everything on the menu was pretty cheap - about €2-€4 so we ordered a selection. I went for a lamb tagine. We also managed to acquire a few other dishes that we didn't order, as the restaurants like to sneakly add things to your bill, but we didn't mind too much.

Moroccan tagine at Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

My meal was pretty tasty - and I loved the sliced orange with cinnamon for desert. (That's a recipe I'll be making in the future.) But it was the atmosphere that was the most enjoyable.

Sliced orange with cinnamon - Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

After eating we wandered a bit more, and by this stage there were lots of twinkling tea-light holders for sale spread throughout the square. Just beautiful. We finished our evening picking up some fresh mint tea from a tea stall and slowly making our way through the twinkling lights back to our riad and bed...

Twinkling candle light holders - Djemaa El-Fna Marrakech

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  1. This looks so good! We are looking at places to go on honeymoon and I think I might have to add this to our maybe list :)

    1. Hi Clare - Marrakech would definitely be a fun destination but I would recommend including it as a stop on a Morocco trip, as you really only need a few days here to see the sights. However, you can do some totally blissful couple hammams. Lovely!

  2. Claire, this has me drooling for some more Moroccan tagine! I loved trying all the food at the stands--day or night--and I especially loved all the freshly squeezed citrus juice all over the place. When we got home we promptly bought a juicer and whenever we make orange juice I'm transported back to Djemaa el Fna.

    Amy | Club Narwhal

    1. You know what - I might just have to do the same!!

  3. Great photos, I was in Marrakech this summer and this post has brought all the memories back!

    Ella | 

  4. Teeth pullers, really?!? I would never be able to stomach watching that! Your pictures really make this area come alive! We were considering going to Marrakesh this February, but then decided to just embrace the freezing temps and go to Austria instead. Marrakesh is still on the wishlist though - maybe next year!

    1. Teeth pullers, really! Crazy huh. I didn't get too close :)

  5. I love eating market food. Your photos of Marrakech are beautiful! And I wish I had tealights like that in my home! x

  6. Gorgeous, just gorgeous - and yes, I wish I had tealights like those!

  7. incredible! I can't believe the restaurants add dishes to your bill! haha I wonder what they wouldve done if you sent them back ;) it all looks adventurous and tasty!