Marrakesh is laden with historical treasures and landmarks. You name it, Marrakesh has it. This ancient imperial seat to numerous Berber empires surprises and sprawls. Modern neighborhoods encircle traditional souks, and sumptuous palaces hide among dusty ramparts. Replete with gardens, mosques, swanky hotels, and museums, it’s no wonder that Marrakesh seems like an endless hive of activity. While most visitors know the old city, or medina, there are whole areas that most travelers never visit (or hear of). And those are very often the places where locals in the know spend time—whether it’s to shop, dine, party or visit artists in their ateliers.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend in Marrakesh, they’ll be sure to steer you in the right directions. But if not, here is a list of the five areas of Marrakesh that shouldn’t be overlooked on any trip to the Red City.
The medina is the frenetic heart of Marrakesh. A UNESCO world heritage site, this is the biggest ancient market in all of North Africa. A stroll through the serpentine streets will reveal the mysteries hidden within. Think ramparts, tombs, monuments, and mosques that will hypnotize and inspire even the most well seasoned traveler.
Need a breather from the old world clamor of the medina? The industrial zone is where some of Marrakesh’s chicest designers have their ateliers. You’ll find working spaces and showrooms, with products that are more contemporary than what you will find in the old city.
The Old Jewish Quarter is housed within the medina. You can admire the souks and the Alzama Synagogue in the central courtyard while enjoying a cup of Berber tea. Of note, the Moroccan Jews were famously spared because of the Sultan’s defiance to the Vichy regime during WWII.
Ever since the Catholic church of Saints-Martyrs was built here, this district has had a flair for the European. Gueliz shows a very different face of Marrakesh, with its boulevards, Royal theatre, beautiful new train station, and famed Majorelle Gardens. Come to glimpse a modernized Marrakesh.
The stunning Bab Agnaou entrance welcomes you to the Kasbah just like it did for courtiers in centuries past. Here, the essence of Marrakesh remains intact. With its peacefully inviting old streets and less-insistent vendors, one can soak up the real feel of the city and admire the Royal Palace.