Place Jemaa-el-Fna: a cultural hub in the heart of the Medina

This most famous square attracts thousands of visitors every year, who come to discover the old-fashioned charm of the place. For centuries, this courtyard of miracles has been a veritable meeting place for Marrakchis. Snake charmers, acrobats, fire-eaters, storytellers and many other entertainers can be seen here. In the evening, small gargotes set up with tables and benches under small light bulbs, serving Moroccan street food. The fumes of the street restaurants in the night give the square a mysterious, even mystical atmosphere. If you want to quench your thirst, don't hesitate to sample the excellent freshly squeezed orange juice available all over the square. In short, you must spend at least one evening in Place Jemna El Fna. This popular place, where many small ancestral trades still exist, was listed as an intangible cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 2008.

Jemaa-el-Fna market square, Marrakech, Morocco.

- ©Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

An intergenerational cultural bath

Founded in the 11th century, it brings together all of Marrakech's traditional culture through a variety of arts, including music and street performances. It's a place where social classes, generations and different cultures mix and exchange. A happy melting pot where everyone rubs shoulders. It is strategically located in the heart of the Medina, a square surrounded by restaurants and shops. Since 1922, this living space has been protected as part of Morocco's artistic heritage in order to preserve cultural practices.

Medina, Marrakech, Morocco.

- ©Lucky Business/Shutterstock
Marrakech

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What can you find there?

It is the meeting point between the people of Marrakech and visitors from all over the world. The esplanade is gigantic, but despite the space available, the small stands pile up and almost fill the whole area. You can find absolutely everything. From basic necessities to snake charmers, this is the theatre of commerce and entertainment. You can buy fruit, eat traditional dishes or watch street performances. There's so much to choose from that you could spend most of the day here. It's right in the centre of town and at the crossroads of the souk's intertwining alleyways, so it's impossible to miss.

Dynamic day...

During the day, the Place Jemaa-el-Fna is bustling with activity. The comings and goings of the local population mixed with the tourists discovering the place make it an incredible lively place and therefore a must-see activity in Marrakech. In the early hours of the morning, the esplanade looks like a haven of peace, calm and empty, an opportunity to appreciate the immensity of the place. We had the opportunity to experience this moment suspended in time when we ordered our taxi for the return flight at dawn. Then, as the hours passed, small fruit and food stalls and shops took over. Berber musicians, dancers and other street entertainers such as snake charmers and travelling shows provide the entertainment.

Jemaa-el-Fna, Marrakech, Marruecos.

- ©Gimas/Shutterstock

Among the specialities served, treat yourself to a fresh fruit juice (with filtered water) or try a traditional Moroccan dish. The stalls offer a multitude of products to try. There are even... snails! The scents of fresh mint and spices combine to create a sweet and spicy authentic oriental cocktail.

Jemaa-el-Fna, Marrakech, Marruecos.

- ©Ana del Castillo/Shutterstock
Marrakech

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The Zeitoun café boasts a panoramic terrace overlooking Place Jemaa El Fna and offers a varied menu of traditional dishes and cold drinks.
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...and at night!

Fruit and vegetable stalls give way to small pubs, while musicians and artistic activities are back in full swing. The music mingles with the smells of traditional cuisine. The atmosphere in the Place de la Magie reaches its peak in the evening. Tourists stroll among the stalls and locals who have come to meet here.

Marrakech, Morocco.

- ©Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

Many locals come to eat in the evening, and curious tourists will decide to swap their dinner in the restaurant for one of the large tables on the forecourt for a tasting of local dishes. It's an experience rich in encounters and culinary discoveries. As for value for money, you won't be disappointed.

Marrakech, Morocco.

- ©Christian Mueller/Shutterstock

"A unique moment!"

Regis P

Practical information

📍Location: right in the centre of Marrakech

Opening hours: 9h-00h

👉 Places nearby

  • Marrakech Souk (220 m)

  • Koutoubia Mosque (less than a kilometre)

  • Marrakech Museum (750 m)

  • Medersa Ben Youssef (800 m)

Editor's tip :

To make the most of this emblematic spot, we recommend you visit in the late afternoon or early evening, when the party is in full swing. This lively atmosphere, combined with the fumes from the square which is lit up in the evening, make this a magical place to be.

Did you know?

The film "The Man Who Knew Too Much" may not mean anything to you, but the name of its author will. Alfred Hitchcock made a brief appearance from behind on the Place Jemaa-el-Fna, observing the snake charmers. This popular esplanade has thus rubbed shoulders with the 7th art.

by Val HANCOCK
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