The Old City of Marrakech: Life Behind the Walls

The Red City of Marrakech is known worldwide for its Medina, the fortified old city, and also for the UNESCO Heritage Jemaa el-Fnaa, a huge and bustling square beneath the Medina Quarter. In this courtyard, you can find snake charmers, performing Barbary apes, storytellers, water sellers in vibrant red outfits, henna tattooers, a variety of vendors selling foods and drinks such as grilled meat, lamb brains, snails, sausage links, couscous, and in the market (souk) nearby, you can find a huge selection of Moroccan Shoes, clothing, fabrics, home decorations, spices, perfumes, and countless other colorful stuff too numerous to mention here. There was a bombing terrorist bombing here on April 28 that killed 17 people, but as you can see nearly a month later things are busy and active. It hasn’t broken the spirit of the dynamic people who live here, not by a long shot.

Pickled olive vendor in the souk of Medina Quarter, Red City Marrakech, Morocco

Colorful pickled olives

This vibrant center of the Medina Quarter is full of merchants, artists, and tourists, however this old city is much more than just a tourism destination: This walled city was established in the 11th century, and people have been living in this area since. Even the very touristy Jemaa el-Fnaa is much more than just a tourist destination: locals actually come here too, and it has been so for hundreds of years.

Busy food vendors in Jemaa el-Fnaa, Red City Marrakech, Morocco

Busy food vendors in Jemaa el-Fnaa

The courtyard Jemaa el-Fnaa, and the souk nearby, along with many historical buildings scattered inside the wall, will need their own articles to make you feel the magic of this place. But now I want to firstly show you the charming old atmosphere of the life behind the red wall, nothing like what we had experienced before. It’s very different. It’s very strange. It’s very exotic.

Welcome to the medina quarter of Marrakech

The gate to the medina quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Welcome to the medina quarter of Marrakech, the old city behind the wall.

Typical pinkish orange houses and narrow and winding street with arches

Typical houses in Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Typical houses and street

A small alley - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Moped zooming down a small alley

A man leaving a mosque


Mosque - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco



A man with his horse carriage in Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

A man with his horse cart

A woman of Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

A local woman receiving tea

A man spotted in Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

A man

Local kids - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Kids love to be photographed

Culinary delights


Vendor at Jemaa el-Fnaa - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Dried fruit vendor at Jemaa el-Fnaa


Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

A little restaurant that we loved, but it's deep in the labyrinth so we probably won't be able to find it again

Delicious and popular sausage links at Jemaa el-Fnaa, Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Delicious and popular grilled sausages at Jemaa el-Fnaa

Making snack (left) - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Frying snacks (left)

The market aka “souk”

The Souk of Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Metalwork in the souk

The Souk - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Fabric for sale in the souk


Pottery storage - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

Pottery storage

Bicycle storage - Medina Marrakech Morocco

Bicycle storage... or...? I'm not sure what...

A cemetery inside the medina

Cemetery - Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco


Inside a riad (traditional Moroccan house with garden/courtyard in the middle)

Inside a Riad - Red City Marrakech, Morocco

Inside a Riad

And finally, graffiti! We saw at least 2 of this boy, we need to find out the story behind him.

Graffiti in Medina Quarter of Marrakech, Morocco

We saw at least 2 graffiti of this same boy

Tags: , , , ,

31 Responses to “The Old City of Marrakech: Life Behind the Walls”

  1. Pete | Hecktic Travels
    21 May 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Some wonderful photographs guys! Particularly love the shots of the dried fruit vendor and the grilling station. I’m convinced that I have to go here ;)
    Pete | Hecktic Travels´s last post…Vancouver Island in Photos

    • Dina
      24 May 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      Great! Looking forward to seeing your photo with dried fruit necklace :D

  2. Erica
    22 May 2011 at 12:56 am #

    I love the warm colors in this guys! Markets are some of my favorite places in the world and capturing the liveliness of them can be hard!

    • Dina
      24 May 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      Yes, the warm color here really attracts me. I love it that there’s not much cheap plastic product that usually give the junkie look. Capturing market feel is really difficult. People are so aware of camera. Either they want you to buy their product, get tips for the photo, or tell you that taking photo is not allowed.

    • Dina
      24 May 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      (By tips, I mean money)

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher
    24 May 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Marrakech is calling my name, and you are helping!
    Vera Marie Badertscher´s last post…Dining With Al-Qaeda

    • Dina
      24 May 2011 at 3:30 pm #

      It was calling my name before, now it is calling you :D

  4. Katrina Stovold
    26 May 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Great photos! When I was in Marrakech I didn’t take a lot of pictures. For one thing, I realized I’d left my camera’s battery charger at home, and for another I was feeling really self-conscious about taking photos that included people. It’s great to see your wonderful pictures! Ah, missing Morocco now… Must go back!
    Katrina Stovold´s last post…Marocmama- Djellaba revolution!

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Hi Katrina, I was self conscious too about taking photo with people in it. Combination between feeling guilty intruding their space, and getting yelled at to stow the camera away. Sometimes it’s Ryan’s conscious that tell me not to take photos. There are so magical moment I want to capture, but only few of them I can take the photo candidly – they were so aware of the camera existence. I don’t know where the balance is. Many other bloggers have magical photo involving people, I want to take that kind of photos too, but each time I’m on spot, I’m contemplated.
      But Marrakesh is a hard object indeed. Even taking photos of food stands and shops, the sellers want you to pay the tips.

      I’m sorry you don’t have the battery charger with you, ack!
      Dina´s last post…10 Tips Mendanai Traveling Jangka Panjang

  5. jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World
    31 May 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Perrrty! We’re definitely going to stop by Morocco when we’re in Africa – will be hitting you guys for tips when the time comes.
    jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World´s last post…The Wonderful Things We Love About Salento

    • Dina
      4 June 2011 at 11:58 am #

      Heheh, thank you :) You will love it here. And Jill, I’m sure you are already familiar with some of Arabic words like me ;)

  6. Haley
    3 June 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Great photos of real life in Morocco.I love Typical houses and street because it make me feel living in a myterical world.Thanks for your sharing
    Haley´s last post…Ways to reduce stress

  7. Suzy
    13 June 2011 at 12:38 am #

    I was so close to booking a 40 euro flight from Italy to Marrakech last summer. I really wish I had. I love the night shots of the medina you guys captured. It looks so magically and other worldly to me.
    Suzy´s last post…Lonely Travel Is Good For You

    • Dina
      15 June 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      There are a lot of cheap flight to Marrakesh from Europe indeed, so reaching there in the future is easy! Our on way flight from Madrid for 2 person and one luggage was only 40 Euro.

      The Medina at night is magical. The pink wall plus the dim illumination, with the locals meandering around, was something that make me feel like in a totally different world! Thanks Suzy, and thanks to pick this article as one of the five articles featured in the stumbling segment!!

  8. Andrea
    13 June 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Love these photos! Feels like I’m right there with you in the action. What’s for dinner ;)
    Andrea´s last post…Observing Humanity on The Inca Trail

    • Dina
      15 June 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks Andrea! Dinner was delicious liver brochette, small and cheap sausage links, and snails, in Jemaa el-Fna ;)

  9. Jenna
    13 June 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Wow, I really loved this. So evocative. It seems like you really got a feel for the area.
    Jenna´s last post…Getting to Know You 5- Amanda

    • Dina
      15 June 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks Jenna! Yes, I totally love it there. The old city was so intricate with the tiny and winding aisles, and we loved walking around the neighbourhood without map! Well, yeah, we got lost a lot, and twice need to be escorted by the locals to the closest gate :)

      • Jenna
        24 June 2011 at 1:23 am #

        Walking around without a map is the best! And having locals help you is fun, too. :-)

  10. heymorocco
    14 June 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    Bicycle storage… or…? I’m not sure what..
    That’s actually guy who fixes bikes :), so if you get a bike flat tire that’s your man :)

    • Dina
      15 June 2011 at 9:07 pm #

      Aha! thanks for the information! Make much more sense than “bicycle storage”. I’ll keep that in mind ;)

  11. Sabrina
    16 June 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    These pics really want to make me go to Marrakesh :) Looks gorgeous! I can’t believe how many different types of olives that guy is selling!!
    Sabrina´s last post…Flowers at White Sands National Monument

  12. Angela
    16 June 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Gorgeous photos, very evocative of the place. I’ve been curious about Marrakech since I was a small child and I keep postponing a trip there, might be time now!

  13. Traveling Ted
    16 June 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    A lot of great pictures here, but my favorite is of the courtyard (riad). Looks like a really cool place to hang out.

  14. Audrey
    17 June 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Ooo! I love the photographs inside the market. I’ve got my eye on their metalwork!

  15. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler
    18 June 2011 at 12:16 am #

    Wow. This place looks so cool. I can’t wait to visit Morocco. Love your photos!
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler´s last post…Photo of the Week- Colors of Bhaktapur

  16. Mona
    8 November 2011 at 11:26 am #

    First of all im from morocco and i just love Marrakech. but also jsut thought You should know the picture of those kids the signs they are making with their hands it is the Moroccan equivilant to the Flipping someone off.

    • Dina
      8 November 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      OMG, really? Hahaha! Smile is deceiving, eh. Also, those kids love to send us to the wrong direction in that complicated aisles of Marrakech

  17. William Luts
    22 December 2014 at 2:25 am #

    Cool place and beautiful, very attractive. I love visiting like this place.

  18. Sean Sede
    6 January 2015 at 12:34 am #

    Old city is the one of my favorite travel spot, nice view and beautiful place.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge