The Jemaa el Fna (sometimes also referred to as Djemaa el Fna) is a market place in Marrakesh’s old medina quarter. This beautiful square dates back many centuries and has a rich and interesting history. The square, surrounding buildings and gardens were all renovated in 1147. It is a popular spot for both locals and tourists and being the main Marrakesh’s main square it is a regular hive of activity. No tour to Moroccoand to Marrakech is complete without exploring this delightful area.
The name translates to ‘The Square of the Dead’; a name which was highly likely borne from the fact the square was once the site of public executions in the past. Luckily for tourists this practice no longer takes place. It is now a place for entertainment which varies depending on the time of day. There you will find snake charmers and young men carrying chained monkeys. The snake charmers and entertainers will happily pose for photographs with anyone who would like to takeaway a fabulous souvenir of one of Marrakesh’s finest attractions. The day brings out plenty of orange juice sellers and vendors selling water. They are easy to spot as they tend to wear bright clothing and carry around traditional leather water bags with brass cups. As the evening draws in the street entertainment changes from snake charmers to dancers. Traditional medicines are also peddled by street vendors in the evening and if you are interesting in spending some time listening to tales, there are also storytellers happy to share although they only tend to speaking local languages such as Arabic.
Jemaa el Fna is also a great place for trying a variety of local cuisines. Traditional dishes such as Kefta, Tagine and Harira are on offer amongst a wide variety of other tasty foods and snacks. The evening time brings in a lot of people to the square and the hustle and bustle of people going about their business, browsing the stalls or enjoying some delicious food helps to create an electric atmosphere.
The shopping at the Jemaa el Fna is amazing. There is a large souk, which is a traditional North African market that sells a whole range of goods including souvenirs, fresh produces and spices, and pretty much everything you will need for day to day living in Marrakesh. On the opposite side of Jemaa el Fna square are a range of hotels and other accommodation making the busy square easily accessible for those visitors who are staying in the center of the city. Even though the hotels are so close to the centre of town they offer an oasis of peace and calm for all guests.