Crowds & Culture in Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna Square

Crowds + Culture in Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna Square


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Don’t leave Morocco without heading to Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech, the massive public square full of merchants, hawkers, and entertainers. It’s one of Africa’s best-known squares and is considered to be an urban icon in Morocco.

The name Jemaa el-Fna means “the assembly of trespassers.” The square lives up to its name as it is known for being a destination mixed with both tourists and locals. This is the place to be to really get a taste for the craziness and hectic culture of Morocco.

Jemaa el-Fna Square, Where Tourists & Locals Meet

Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech is lively and crowded, consisting mostly of Moroccans as well as some tourists. The small streets are maze-like. Navigating them is part of the fun! The square is a lot to take in and you’ll want to take it all in. From people-watching, to insane textiles and artifacts, to beautiful buildings and crazy-delicious food….the experience is one you’ll want to savor. The liveliness begins early each morning and remains constant through the evening and into the night.

Known for its majestic appeal, Jemaa el-Fna square will give you a taste of Morocco’s history and culture through storytellers, dancers, artists, medical men, tooth-pullers, acrobats, fortune tellers, musicians, and snake charmers. The snake charmers are an enticing part of winding through the square. Just be cautious—everyone will try to get your money there. You’ll be expected to pay to watch entertainers on the street so it’s a good idea to drop a dirham or two as a contribution.

Although finding your way through the buzzing square may be a challenge at first, you’ll find yourself vibing with Jemaa el-Fna’s energy and coming back for more. For a quick break, you can head up to one of the rooftop terraces to enjoy a cup of coffee and a great view of the square.

There’s More to Marrakech Than Just Jemaa el-Fna Square

Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and the capital of the country’s mid-southwestern region of Marrakech-Safi. Its nickname is Ochre City (or Red City) because of the abundance of red walls and buildings built from red sandstone.

If you decide to trek out into the desert, definitely hit up a tour company. Top Desert Tours is one of the better ones. You can ride camels into the desert and then stay in Berber Camp Merzouga for a night or two. Berber Camp is a small travel company managed by the Berber family in southern Morocco. They have luxury bivouacs (tents) with beds, showers, and toilets or simple bivouacs without showers. The camp is all about respecting the desert and its ecosystem.

For more travel stories and tips, check out The Best Travel Podcast, hosted by Driftr’s Seth Freedman.

Theresa Holland

Theresa around the web:

Theresa Holland (Healey) is a freelance writer, blogger, and (sometimes) comedian. She likes telling jokes and writing weekly movie reviews on Instagram. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son.

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