A vibrant Moroccan oasis

an excerpt from own travel blog, exploristica, on Marrakech

Nothing quite prepares you for Marrakech. You listen to everyone who has already visited and you hear their stories about the noise, the bustle and the smells of the medina but it really doesn’t sink in until you arrive and experience it for yourself. It is a truly vibrant, each corner adorned with multicoloured rugs and brass pots; busy Marrekchis zoom past, piled high on tiny mopeds, spine-tingling calls from the muezzin resonate and reverberate around the tall walls of the riads and a short wander in the maze of the medina can lead you to the most unexpected of places. 
Lying north from the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is of the largest cities of Morocco, with Jma-El-Fnaa square one of, if not the largest and busiest squares of Africa. The history of Morocco and its people is fascinating - a mix of African, Arab and European influences have created an ethnically and culturally diverse country with such stunning architecture, food and culture.
Lying just outside of the old City you’ll find the Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech's botanical gardens, a twelve acre oasis of trailing plants and flowers, water features, and strikingly vibrant colour combinations of royal blue, ochre yellow and lush greens. A taxi from inside the city walls costs around 20dhs. Anything more and we were told that our driver would be chancing it (often the way in Marrakech, you have to firmly state your terms - the art of haggling is definitely not left in the souks). The gardens receive a lot of visitors but the quiet foliaged corners provide never seem overcrowded but instead offer a tranquil, calming atmosphere away from the main area's hustle. Jardin Majorelle is named after painter Jaques Majorelle responsible for the brilliant blue hues, but it was ethnobotanist Abderrazak Benchaâbane who, from the 1920s cultivated the gardens to house more than 300 plant species spanning five continents. Yves Saint Laurent subsequently bought the villa and preserved its eclectic beauty. An art deco statue commemorates his death there, surrounded by bamboo and painted in muted hues and you can also visit the Berber Art Museum, showcasing indigenous Moroccan artefacts; textiles, costumes, jewellery. The botanical gardens are small, but beautifully formed, offering respite from the madness of the medina. You won’t be able to put your camera down, I promise.

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Chloe H. Waters

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