Attractions in Marrakesh

There are 153 “things to do” in Marrakesh listed on tripadvisor and I only had time to go to 6 of them. So unless you’re planning to stay for more than a month, you might not have time to do all 153 “things to do”. In my futile efforts to be as helpful as possible, here’s a short summary of what to expect in these 6 attractions and whether I’d recommend it or not.

1.      Ben Youssef Madrasa

The Brad Pitt of the Marrakech attractions. There has been far too many insta-perfect shots, caption: “follow me to the ancient wonders of Arabia.” Ok fine, I relent. It is very beautiful. Constructed in the 14th century during the Islamic Golden age, the Ben Youssef Madrasa served as a college for the best and brightest (and wealthiest) in Morocco. The madrasa is the largest in the whole of morocco and may have had 900 students at one time.

Even as you enter, you feel as though you have been transported to the glory of the yesteryears. The exterior remains intact, with the same doorway arches, the tiny windows for ventilation, even the same busy roads.

Ben Youssef street

Once inside, don’t forget to look up. 

Ben Youssef ceiling

There is mindfulness in every decision made for the design of the madrasa. Since there was no electricity, the students had to rely on daylight. But this was the University for the Best and brightest, even if light had to enter from the ceilings, it had to do so brilliantly. Our guide told us that the roof was designed in a special way to ensure that light was maximised on all floors. Whatever it is, it made for beautiful silhouettes.

 

The other thing that caught my attention was the intricately carved marble on the doorway arches. I didn’t notice it at first, being the oblivious person that I am, until the guide pointed out to me that it was all hand carved by the grandmasters at that time. Woah

Ben Youssef interior

Absolutely stunning architecture.

Even the walls were carved in complex and beautiful designs, adorned with immaculately placed mosaics tiles of the best quality. Ahhhh, Morocco is so beautiful. 

 Our mandatory tourist shot

Our mandatory tourist shot

Hello from the other side

Ban Youssef madrasa artsy shot

Fair warning though, it does get very crowded quickly. I suggest that you go as early as possible or as late as possible. Imagine how beautiful this shot would have been if there was no one photobombing my guide. Unless you want to wait 30 minutes to get a good shot and a clear view, just sleep a little earlier the day before.

I would really, REALLY recommend for you to go and check out the Ben Youssef Madrasa! If possible, you could do it during a day tour of the Marrakesh medina with a guide. There were not many signs around to explain what exactly was going on, so a guide would be useful to getting a clearer glimpse of the past. We even got to see the student dormitories (that didn’t photograph very nicely) and the professor’s quarters. They were nearly identical except for a better decorated door arch. Without the guide, we wouldn’t have even recognised the rooms as dormitories and would have probably thought of them as classrooms or offices or whatever.

10/10 would recommend. 

2.      Museum of Marrakesh

The museum of Marrakesh, despite its name, is one of the lesser known attractions, ranked at 40 on TripAdvisor.

Having hired the tuktuk driver for half a day, we asked him where he recommended for us to go. Entrance wasn’t too expensive. Somewhere between 2-4 USD(student price) for entry. I imagine it to be almost double for adults though. 

 Our tuktuk driver zipping in and out of Marrakesh traffic which included motorbikes and donkeys. 

Our tuktuk driver zipping in and out of Marrakesh traffic which included motorbikes and donkeys. 

museum of marrakesh

To be honest, the artefacts weren’t that impressive. If you are accustomed to the impossible standards set by the British museum, the tiny collection of items (I wouldn’t even call it artefacts) would be a disappointment for you.

A plus point, would be the architecture (again, I love Moroccan architecture). Luckily for me, it was my first stop of the day and it was completely empty which meant that I could go absolutely nuts with my camera.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend the museum on the basis of its artefacts but if you’re a student and would like to have some serious column envy, this might be the place for you.

3.      Photography museum

The photography museum is another hot contender. Ranked 8 on tripadvisor for its rooftop views rather than its exhibits I decided to check it out.

I was in for a surprise. The exhibits taken by the early colonizers explorers were very interesting and offered a window to the past. It also proved that the medina of Marrakesh really hadn’t changed that much at all. The souks, the streets even the donkeys felt like they had been immortalized in time. 

photography museum

Hurhur, I tried to be clever here and take a photo of arch-ception. However, my camera at that time was a little too zoomed in to take the full arch of the doorway.

ancient colour photos

There were also some very rare ancient colour photos. The colour is not very visible in the photograph so why don’t you go down and have a look yourself (;

Photography museum rooftop

So this is what everyone had been raving about. The rooftop. It’s honestly not that magnificent. Or maybe it’s because I went on a cloudy day. Regardless, I felt that the exhibits were worthy of a visit, and not this stupid rooftop.

There is a fee of 40 dirhams (4USD) but I think it was well worth the money. Its really something you can’t see anywhere else. Recommend.

4.      Bahia Palace

 Ok, this was the only attraction that I didn’t enjoy this one single bit. According to the official website, the Bahia palace is a big old house and a set of houses which were collected and converted into a palace. It was messy, disjointed and we were just lost going around. When we were there, they were doing a rehearsal for an event which entailed loud, deep booms of confused bass There were impossible crowds, the signs weren’t clear or tourist friendly and compared to the Ben Youssef madrasa, the architecture was nothing spectacular. I only managed to get ONE semi-decent shot because the place was sprawling with tourists. 

bahia palace
unimpressed cat bahia palace

This cat is accurately expressing my discontent upon leaving the palace. The entrance fee is relatively low, maybe that’s why there’s a tourist infestation. There needs to be serious signs regarding what is going on and some crowd control. Do not recommend.

4.      El Badi Palace

In ruins, I find that El Badi is one of the most underrated attractions in Marrakesh. The tripadvisor rating is poor, with many complaining that it’s in derelict. Well duh, it’s in ruins

El Badi

I found its extremely beautiful to photograph, and haunting as well. It reminded me of Shelley’s Ozymandias. Oh, the minusculity of man, no matter how great or how wealthy the civilisation, time erodes all. We are all little specks of dust floating on an unremarkable rock, floating around among more unremarkable rocks and in time, we are all nothing.

Deep.

El Badi also has a museum exhibit attached to it. Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs of the exhibit at the time of my visit but I thought it was quite enjoyable and kept to the “we are all unimportant in the grand scale of things” theme. But I’ve seen reviews on tripadvisors which were complaining about the exhibit. But then again, there were reviews complaining that El Badi was in ruins. 

El Badi strange rock

Not quite sure what happened here but its an amazing spot for more tourist shots.

Entrance fees to El Badi are not expensive at about 20 dirhams if I remember correctly. I would definitely recommend you to visit.

6.      Jardin Majorelle

jardin majorelle

The Jardin Majorelle. Commonly ranked #1 on tripadvisor and scattered with the ashes of the late Yves Saint-Laurent, I only have one work for it: Uck. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate the cobalt blue that is excessively splashed on all the walls. Or the unimpressive fountains.  

jardin majorelle shop

No but really, everything was blue. 

unimpressive fountain jardin majorelle

You call this a fountain?!

I didn’t like it because it’s a sad excuse of a garden. Ok fine, maybe I’m a little biased. Having lived in Singapore all my life, surrounded with lush greenery and prime breeding locations for mosquitoes, Jardin Majorelle just didn’t appeal to me as a garden. 

big cacti jardin majorelle

I understand that YSL may have liked penile shaped objects but seriously, there didn’t need to be so many cacti!

big FAT cacti jardin majorelle

Like, what’s the big deal man?! Why the catctus?!

I wouldn’t recommend this attraction if you just want to see some greenery, there are many better places to go. I found this attraction to be exceptionally underwhelming, especially since we’ve heard so many locals gushing about it. I would recommend it if you’re a huge YSL fan, like the colour blue or penile-shaped objects.