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Jemaa el-Fna

Selected by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Site, the fascinating square of Jemaa el-Fna is the symbol of the captivating city of Marrakech.

During the day La place, as Jemaa el-Fna is known in French, is a relatively calm square with a series of stalls selling fruit juices and spices, Berber water sellers and a few snake charmers. As four o'clock in the afternoon approaches, a caravan of carts begins to make its way into the square. Row after row of food stalls start to spring up in the center, along with more snake charmers, jugglers, magicians, henna artists, showmen, monkey handlers, and storytellers. An intriguing and exciting scene develops as the sun goes down and the air is filled with the aroma of spices and smoke from grilling meats.

Walking around this maze of activity is not an easy feat. The senses are on overload from too much sensory stimuli. There are rooftop restaurants and cafes around the square where the spectacle can be better appreciated. And this is exactly what we did the first day at La place.

As the night progresses, the exotic sounds and scents seem louder and stronger culminating at around midnight when the carts parade back out of the square until the following day when it starts all over again.

ST member Tom traveled with his motorhome, Papillon, to Morocco and on his post about Marrakech he wrote:
"Once in your life you must spend an evening in the Jemaa el Fna"

I agree wholeheartedly with Tom.

Here's a video put together by my husband of the first day we spent in this amazing square.

La place at sundown...
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and at night.
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Dried fruit, nuts and spice stalls.
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Berber carpet shops around the square.
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A nighttime view with the soft glowing light of a minaret.
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Comments (13)

Amy:

Wow! Just mesmirizing!

What a mind-blowing place! Some of the scenes in the video could have been taking place several centuries ago and then I'd see a glimpse of modern clothes etc. So what's the deal with the snake charmers? Do people tip them?

I love those very colorful hats. And also the cute kissing monkey!

Beautiful, Maria. I love the photos.
The video is so vivid, I can almost feel that I am standing in the square. Thanks to you(and your husband) for sharing it.
I did not know they have monkeys! How cute! And the snake charmers, cool!
I bet all kind of aromas and sounds make the place so...exceptional. I would love to go there.

Amy, yes, mesmerizing. We were sort of spellbound the first time we visited the square. It is a fun place for kids.

Annie, the snake charmers have some sort of show and then ask people for a tip. They also walk around with a couple of snakes with the intention of draping them around people's shoulders so that they can take pictures, for a tip of course. In the video you can see my husband getting close and personal with a snake. I stood at a good distance.

Candi, the sounds and aromas are amazing. Everywhere we went in Morocco we found incredible aromas coming from the herbs and spices.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Maria, Wow I love this post! First, I enjoyed reading your description of your experiences. And your husband did an awesome job with editing and creating this video. The background music was perfect. Really added to the visual energy.

I was going to ask if that was your husband with the snake charmer and I read your comments that it was. He's very brave, I don't blame you for standing at a distance. What a great experience and an amazing city to visit. I love your still photos too!

Thanks for this great post Maria and for sharing your husband's amazing video.

Barb Cabot:

This is so mysterious and foreign and exotic for me. I would love to experience this first hand. I love the look of everything your husband captured. It seems faraway from anything I've ever seen in person, like a movie set. Incredible footage your husband has taken. What memories. I love the music/sounds of the background. Wonderful post. Thank you so much.

So that was your husband with the snake? He and my nephew Mason must be kindred spirits (not afraid of getting up close and personal with a snake!).

Was the food good? I saw several things that looked great.

Kathy, I also like the music my husband chose for the video. He bought a couple of CDs of non traditional Moroccan music to use as soundtrack for the videos. I’m hoping he’ll do one on Fez. I’m not fond of snakes and was terrified and petrified when the snake charmer tried to put one over my shoulder.

Barb, I’m glad you enjoyed the video. La place is such an extraordinary place that the sight and sounds stayed engraved in my mind long after leaving the country.

Annie, Mason and my husband can spend all the time they want with the snakes (and the monkeys)! I’m terribly afraid of both but don’t mind seeing them from a distance. La place is such a wonderful place for kids; it’s a very real place but also so magical and mysterious.

In regards to the food, it looked great and the few typical dishes that we ate were delicious and full of flavor. I’m going to do a post on the food soon but it won’t be very detailed since we got sick on our second day in Fez and were quite limited in the stuff we could eat.

Great post and photos!

Yes, I had ten days in Hawaii 21 years ago. :)

Always wanted to go back.

sheri:

Maria that was so fascinating - so different from anything I have seen or experienced. Thanks for sharing the video!

Fantastic video! Great editing job. I also love the music. The scenes in the video remind me of the story of Aladdin. It must have been incredible to be there. How many days were you there?

Forgot to add - I loved the photos also!

Thank you Leslie and Sheri!

Girasoli, Thank you. We were there three days, not enough time. I'd love to go back and stay inside the walls and experience the city at night, when all the tourists are gone. The square is so unique and exotic that it does look like something out of a movie set.

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