Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech

Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech (must see)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the busiest and most visited square in the medina quarter of Marrakech and is a lovely place to visit any time of day or night. This square has been a central marketplace, commercial area and meeting place since the city was founded in 1062. When the Almohades dynasty overthrew the Almoravides in 1147, much of Marrakech was destroyed, but this marketplace was quickly restored.

Nowadays, along the one side of the market you can see famous souks, while the other side is lined with hotels, gardens and terrace cafes. The ambiance here is always lively with lots of people and noise.

During the day you can easily quench your thirst buying fresh orange juice or water from the numerous sellers dressed up in traditional attire and bearing authentic leather water-skins and brass cups. Among the exotic attractions found in this market are Barbary Macaques performing tricks or sitting on your shoulder while you pose for a picture, as well as snake charmers and acrobats.

In the early evening, the juice sellers move on and their place is taken by the bands playing all sorts of music to which young Chleuh boys dance to amuse the public. Storytellers settle down to regale locals with their tales (sadly not in English), magicians practice their art and medicine men sell plant remedies.

At night, the music steps up a beat while food stalls are installed and the square becomes a huge open-air restaurant. The stalls are numbered, so once you have found the one you like, don’t forget to jot down its number for when you return to this lively square again.

Why You Should Visit:
Totally in line with expectations. The square is a meeting point and bursts with energy and trade vibes. Noisy and exotic.

Tips:
The many stalls selling traditional food here pose greater risk of food poisoning than the restaurants. Select a busy restaurant with many locals in it as a sign of good authentic fare to enjoy. The other option is to eat at one of the several rooftop restaurants surrounding the square: great view of the action but less confronting, though slightly more expensive.
Beware of pushy salespeople, "free offers", people with animals (e.g. monkeys, snakes), pickpockets, motorbikes, bicycles and carts. If you visit at night, don't shop – it's too busy to do much. Just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. During the day (ideally in the morning, when it's cool) is the best time to shop and bargain (bargain hard!).
Consider hiring a guide. Expect to pay $40 for 3-4 hours (agree on the price before hiring) as the Jemaa is massive and it is very easy to get lost. Make sure you tell the guide what you want to see.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Marrakech. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Jemaa el-Fnaa on Map

Sight Name: Jemaa el-Fnaa
Sight Location: Marrakech, Morocco (See walking tours in Marrakech)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Marrakech, Morocco

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Create Your Own Walk in Marrakech

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