Marrakech: City With a Rosy Hue

In the Marrakech souks, a display of light fixtures that are so bright one may wonder if electricity is necessary!

In the Marrakech souks, a display of light fixtures that are so bright one may wonder if electricity is necessary!

MARRAKECH, Morocco — I returned to Marrakech in late 2012, more than 30 years after my first visit in 1980. I even stayed at the same hotel, La Mamounia, an elegant property just inside 12th century city walls.

Bab Agnaou, one of many gates in Marrakech’s city walls.

Bab Agnaou, one of many gates in Marrakech’s city walls.

The visit stirred memories and yet Marrakech could surprise me as if I had never been there before. In fact, I figure any trip that occurred more than 30 years ago doesn’t count; the next visit is a chance to start over.

So I started over. After check-in, I headed on foot straight to a popular tourist site, the Djemaa el Fna Square.

The broad space is noted for its entertainers, such as men with cobras and or others dressed as water sellers, but they all seemed to make their money posing for photos.

One thing had not changed. I still did not understand the attraction of this square — and was ready to move on to the things I love here, starting with the look of the place.

A section of Marrakech’s historic adobe city walls.

A section of Marrakech’s historic adobe city walls.

Twelve miles of walls surround the historic city center. The oldest section, the medina, dates from the mid-11th century. Much of Marrakech is outside the walls and those sections date back only 100 years, or less.

But the entire city appeared to be built of terra cotta adobe; a guide later said terra cotta is the “color of Marrakech.”

In addition, the city prohibits the construction of anything taller than its 12th century 230-foot Koutoubia Minaret.

The Marrakech landmark, the Koutoubia Minaret.

The Marrakech landmark, the Koutoubia Minaret.

The result is a beautiful low-rise, rosy-colored metropolis.

Besides, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains are visible on the skyline.

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