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.
In cooperation with: Moroccan National Tourist Office
Moroccan culinary traditions in Jemaa el-Fna
Jemaa el-Fna is the center and the symbol of Marrakech. A chaotic place that every visitor to this North African country should see.
A Short History of Jemaa el-Fna
What most tourists don’t even think about is what the square’s name tells: in the local language Jemaa el-Fna means Assembly of the Dead. The name is a sign of the square’s gruesome past. The Marrakech central square originally was a place for executions and heads of criminals were often hanging here on spikes.
I’m happy for not understanding the Moroccan language. If I did, I would maybe not have come this square.
The square of Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakech: watching shows and meeting friends
The focus of the square then changed. It became a marketplace and an open area dining place for the locals. Marketplace at daytime and a show place at nights. The place in Marrakech where everybody comes to share their stories, dine and watch showmen together with family and friends.
The UNESCO Listed Jemaa el-Fna
Preparing Moroccan food on the UNESCO listed squarew
Snake charmers, monkey trainers, folk musicians, fortune tellers, tooth pullers – and Moroccan food. Such a 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 own heritage.
The specific list where Jemaa el-Fna is included is called Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The list contains a long row of remarkable cultural environments. You will 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 (Medina) of Marrakech.
On the north side of the square are the bazaars, called souks, also a place you should see. And at the opposite end is the Koutobia Mosque, a prominent Marrakech landmark and the highest building in the pink desert city.
- Read about the souks here: Getting Lost in the Souks of Marrakech
- Read about Marrakech sights here: The Top Things to Do in Marrakech
Entering the square, these horse carriage men will approach you and offer you a ride. But you won’t need that to get to the square. But it’s good if you want to see the city.
A man with his horse and carriage
So now the photo tour:
Jemaa el-Fna Photo Tour
Locals on a walk on the UNESCO listed square in Marrakech
Koutobia mosque, the highest building of Marrakech next to the square
The square is in a walking zone. Despite that there are cars, bikes, trucks, carriages, donkeys and horses.
Local women shopping on the central square of Marrakech
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 all rubbish
Man with his phone walking across the heritage square
A marketplace with fruit stalls
Next door I found this date and nut stall
Moroccan dates and dried fruits at display
Everything perfectly organized
Fruits displayed in neat piles
The Square in the Evening
Marrakech, Morocco in afternoon sun
Food stalls start 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
Locals having a discussion on the UNESCO listed square
Food stall on the heritage square of Marrakech
Lanterns, mosque and a square side restaurant
Jemaa el-Fna soon closing
Restaurant Le Salama just off the square, dining and belly-dance shows
More about Jemaa el-Fna and Marrakech
So this was my Jemaa el-Fna photo tour, hope you liked the views. For even more photos on Jemaa el-Fna check out this post: The Top Things to Do in Marrakech.
For the souks north of the square check out the post Getting Lost in the Souks of Marrakech.
Two snake charmers at work
My trip to Morocco was made possible by Moroccan National Tourist Office, in whose press trip I participated. All opinions expressed in this blog post, however, are my own.