The central square of Marrakech Jemaa El-Fna is one of the best places to see Morocco as it is and meet the Moroccans as they are.
Times change but the show on this old square goes on. The Moroccans still keep to their old traditions and cultural heritage which made UNESCO take Jemaa el-Fna on their World Heritage list.
Moroccan culinary traditions in Jemaa el-Fna
Jemaa el-Fna is the center and the symbol of Marrakech. A chaotic place that every visitor wants to see.
A Short History of Jemaa el-Fna
What most tourists don’t think about is gruesome past of Jemaa el-Fna. The square originally was a place for executions and the heads of criminals were hanging here on spikes. That’s what the square’s name also tells, Assembly of the Dead.
I’m happy for not understanding the Moroccan language. If I did I would never come to see this square.
Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech: watching shows and meeting friends
The focus of Jemaa el-Fna then changed and the square became a marketplace and an open are dining place Marketplace at daytime and shows and dining at nights. The place in Marrakech where they all comes, share their stories, dine and watch showmen with family and friends.
UNESCO Listed Jemaa el-Fna
Preparing Moroccan food, Jemaa el-Fna
Snake charmers, monkey trainers, folk musicians, fortune tellers, tooth pullers – and Moroccan food. Such variety of shows going on that there was a reason for UNESCO to take Jemaa el-Fna on their list.
That was for the rich cultural heritage and the ways it’s expressed on the square: music, dance, food, rituals and mythologies. By taking objects on their list UNESCO wants to encourage communities to preserve their heritage.
The specific list where Jemaa el-Fna is included is called Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and this list contains a long row of other remarkable cultural environments as well. You can find the whole list on the UNESCO website.
Jemaa el-Fna on the Map
The map shows you the irregular square of Jemaa el-Fna in the old town of Marrakech.
On the north side of the square are the bazaars, the souks that are worth a visit as well. And at the opposite end is the Koutobia Mosque, a Marrakech landmark and the highest building in the pink desert city.
As you enter the square these horse carriage men will approach you and offer you a ride. But you won’t need that on the square. But you can take a horse tour afterwards if you want to see the city.
A man with his horse and carriage, backed by Koutobia mosque
Jemaa el-Fna Photo Tour
Locals on a walk on the UNESCO listed square in Marrakech
Koutobia mosque, the highest building of Marrakech. If you find the mosque you will find Jemaa el-Fna.
The square is in a walking zone but there are cars, bikes, trucks, carriages, donkeys and horses.
Local women shopping on Marrakech central square
Wonder what this stall sells?
These men are selling healing products.
A horse and carriage on the central square of Marrakech
A bike with a full load
More bikes, pink buildings and a small mosque
A Marrakech couple walking on the square
Life on the square
A lonely salesman and some rubbish on the ground
Cleaning the square from the rubbish
Man and his phone crossing Jemaa el-Fna
Jemaa el-Fna as a marketplace: fruit stall
Next door I found this date and nut stall
Moroccan dates and dried fruits at display
Everything perfectly organized
Like here, fruits in neat piles.
Jemaa el-Fna Evening
Afternoon sun in Marrakech
Food stalls opening at dusk
All stalls start preparing Moroccan food
Is my couscous ready to be served?
Just perfect. Hot and tasty.
Waiting for more clients
Fruit sellers stay here all day long.
Want some dates and dried fruits for dessert?
Buying some fresh fruit in Jemaa el-Fna
Locals having a discussion on the UNESCO listed square
Food stall in the UNESCO listed Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech
Lanterns, mosque and a square side restaurant
Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech
Restaurant Le Salama just off the square, offering belly-dance shows
More on Jemaa el-Fna and the Area
So this was my Jemaa el-Fna photo tour, hope you liked the tour. For more photos on Jemaa el-Fna check out my post The Top Things to Do in Marrakech.
And for the souks north of the square check out my post Getting Lost in the Souks of Marrakech.
Jemaa el-Fna snake charmers at work
More on Morocco Travel:
- My other posts on Morocco
- Visit Marrakech, the official Marrakech Tourism website
- The Moroccan National Tourist Office website