Marrakech is not only a fantastic city, it is also a symbol of the Morocco that once was, and which still survives here. The streets of the old and pink city have been too narrow to allow the introduction of cars, and tourists searching for the “real” Morocco have turned the medieval structures of Marrakech into good business.
The hordes of tourists that come here all through the year have still not managed to change its character. Actually their high number contribute in a postive way to preserve one of the greatest monuments of the Morocco that once was. And the people of Marrakech love their city even more, and Moroccans all over the country would not let down an opportunity of visiting it.
The most worthwhile tourist traps are collected inside a rather small zone, starting in the north with the suuqs, continuing through the town square of Jemaa l-Fna with its crowd of storytellers, musicians and the Koutoubia mosque which is visible from practically anywhere in Marrakech.
Going beyond this, the Menara gardens- by young Marrakechians considered as the most romantic place in town- is high up on the list. But don’t forget to visit one of the many examples of sights left by the many Europeans and Americans who fell so much in love with Marrakech that they erected their palaces and gardens here.
After the first edition, which was held a few days after the September 11 attacks and crowned Inch’ Allah Sunday of Yamina Benguigui, Marrakech accomodates the second edition of the International Film Festival under the high patronage of the king Mohammed VI.
From the 18 to September 22, the Marrakech opens its doors with film directors, actors, producers, distributors and journalists of the whole world to share their experiments and to present their Movies.
Designed to be the African version of Cannes Festival, the festival is also poised to become a major annual event highlighting the values of openness and tolerance and a space of encounters and dialogue among various artistic and cultural trends.
Leading Hollywood film directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola will be guests of honour and Scorsese will receive a medal from King of Morocco Mohamed VI.
Also slated for Marrakech tributes are David Lynch, Moroccan actor Hassan El Joundi and Indian film (Lagaan) produced by Aamir Khan.
The festival further schedules two colloquia on “powers and responsibilities of cinema,” ” Based on three principles – democracy, propaganda and subversion – the questions will turn around Cinema as an art for freedom, Cinema as a mirror for world violence and the participants include Moroccan writers Tahar Ben Jelloun and Abdellatif Laâbi, French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, Maurice Druon (Académie Française) and Reverend Jean-Michel Di Falco (Bishop of Paris).
This year, ten feature films will be in competition and the jury will be presided over by legendary French actress Jean Moreau.
The jury of the short-movie contest will be chaired by Tunisian movie director Moufida Tlatli while Yamina Benguigui chairs the jury of a special contest for the best movie of the south.
The films in competition will be shown in three theaters, the Cinema Colisee, the Rif, and the Saada. Films will also be shown to a large audience in front of the El Badii Palace inthe Jemaa El Fna, a large public square designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Morocco, which already hosted the shooting of such renowned movies as Orson Welles’ Othello, David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, and Scorcese’s Kundun, wants to promote its beautiful scenery and landscape to attract more international movie productions. At the same time, efforts are made to develop Morocco’s own motion picture industry
In one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities stands a sumptuouspalace housing the very quintessence of Moroccan art.
On the ground floor you can find clothes, objects in beaten copper, arms and Berber jewellery. Splendours from the past? Not at all, for many of the objects on display are still used and worn in mountain areas.
The first floor salon impresses with its Hispano Moorish decoration and elegant furniture in cedar wood. It is such an accurate reproduction that, at any moment you half expect to see a bride in her ceremonial dress return to the armchair and show herself off to all the admiring guests.
The other rooms are filled with an abundance of . Stop a moment to examine coming from the Sahara ion, characterised by the use of leather, and large, ple mats evoking the dry beauty of the semi-desert.
A remarkable collection of door and window frames is to be found around the courtyard, all encrusted with the most delicate and refined ornamentation. And in the streets outside you will soon understand that the town and its inhabitants know how to keep the traditions of their culture alive.
Dar Si Saïd Museum
Riad Ezzitoun El Jadid
Tel: (044) 44 24 64
Majorelle Garden and Museum of Islamic Art in Marrakesh
In the 1920s the French artist Jacques Majorelle had it made, complete with pools, banana trees, coconut palms, and houses in a fantastic dark blue colour. The wonderful garden is alive with the sound of birds, its incredible cacti standing out in sharp contrast against the blue facade of the villa.
The gardens have later been taken well care of the French couturier Yves Saint-Luarent, who have added a private museum of North African artefacts and a collection of Islamic art.
The gardens serve as a museum, and is open to the public for a normal entrance fee.
Majorelle Garden and Museum of Islamic Art :
Avenue Yacoub El Mansour
Open evry day
Winter : 08 AM – 12 PM / 02 PM – 05 PM
Summer : 08 AM – 12 PM / 02 PM – 07 PM
Bert Flint Museum in Marrakesh
Displayed in the municipal theatre, this collection of costumes, jewellery, arms, musical instruments, carpets and furniture was assembled by Bert Flint, a Dutch art historian.
It is a charming little museum of art and popular traditions from the Souss valley and the Saharan region. It should be noted that another section of the museum is situated in Agadir.
Bert Flint Museum
Rue de la Bahia