Best of Marrakech: 13 Favorite Moments

Find your own magic carpet at Bazar Ben Allal in the carpet souk, Criée Berbere. Photo by Andy Christiani
By Kerry Christiani

Marrakech is a genie of a city. Name your wish -- a romantic riad or haggling in the souks, the show-stopping theatrics of Jemaa el Fna or a top-to-toe scrub in a hammam -- and it shall be granted. From the medina's medieval jigsaw to Hivernage's hedonistic clubs, the slinky restaurants of Guéliz to the über-cool beaches of the Palmeraie, Marrakech has a spirit that's impossible to bottle.

Photo Caption: Find your own magic carpet at Bazar Ben Allal in the carpet souk, Criée Berbere.
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Be hypnotized by snake charmers on Jemaa el Fna. Photo by Andy Christiani
Snake charmers coaxing cobras, Gnaoua musicians whirling into trances, cartwheeling acrobats, storytellers recounting tales, and clairvoyants reading fortunes -- even UNESCO-applauded Jemaa el Fna for being the life and soul of Marrakech's 365-day party.

Photo Caption: Be hypnotized by snake charmers on Jemaa el Fna.
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The striking minaret of Koutoubia. Photo by Andy Christiani
Saunter the palm-dotted gardens of this marvel of medieval symmetry, and find different angles of Marrakech's most iconic landmark. Five times a day the muezzin's melodic adhan calls the faithful to Koutoubia Minaret to pray.

Photo Caption: The striking minaret of Koutoubia.
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Wander the courtyards to appreciate the beauty of the Bahia Palace. Photo by Andy Christiani
The grand vizier and his countless concubines lived in jaw-dropping splendor at this 19th-century palace. Rich with stucco, extraordinary cedarwood ceilings, and geometric zellij, the Bahia Palace's chambers are an A-to-Z of Moroccan artistry.

Photo Caption: Wander the courtyards to appreciate the beauty of the Bahia Palace.
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Haggle hard - and dodge the donkeys - in bustling Souk Semmarine. Photo by Andy Christiani
The maze-like souks set your senses on high alert. Pass by carpenters shaving cedarwood and ironworkers handcrafting lanterns. You will, insha'allah (God willing), learn to dodge donkeys, barter Marrakchi-style, and guzzle mint tea.

Photo Caption: Haggle hard, and dodge the donkeys, in bustling Souk Semmarine.
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The Ben Youssef Medersa in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Stand in the divine courtyard of Ben Youssef Medersa, a 14th-century Koranic school, and study walls that dance with lace-fine stucco, polychrome zellij (mosaic tilework), and intricately wrought cedarwood.

Photo Caption: The Ben Youssef Medersa in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by ChicagoSlim/Frommers.com Community
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Palmeraie Camel. Photo by Andy Christiani
Make a date with a dromedary camel to ride through the palm oasis on the northern fringes of Marrakech, and enjoy great views of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains.

Photo Caption: Palmeraie camel.
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The botanical lushness of Jardin Majorelle is refreshing on a hot day. Photo by Andy Christiani
Luxuriant with rare foliage, Jardin Majorelle was the fashionable garden of the late Yves Saint Laurent. Be dazzled by the cobalt blue Art Deco villa sitting amid Californian palms, cacti, and rustling bamboo.

Photo Caption: The botanical lushness of Jardin Majorelle is refreshing on a hot day.
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Riyad El Cadi is an oasis of tranquility. Photo by Andy Christiani
Down a twisty alley lies an inconspicuous brass-studded door. Push it open and -- voila! -- enter a courtyard where a fountain gurgles and birds twitter in the orange trees. Riads offer a serene escape from the medina bustle, sweeping views over the rooftops, and a warm Marrakchi welcome.

Photo Caption: Riyad El Cadi is an oasis of tranquility.
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I took this photo while waiting for the cook to finish his work at a stall in the famous Djemma el Fna night market in Marrakech. The largest square in North Africa, the Djemma el Fna is always bustling with frenetic energy, but it is amplified at night. The smoke from the hundreds of stalls hung heavy in the air as we struggled to make our order heard over the din of thousands of conversations. It was one of those pristine travel moments when you realize just how lucky you are to be there. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Gluttony is no sin in this appetizing city, where an alfresco feed on Jemaa el Fna is a gastronomic event. Indulge on harira (garbanzo bean or chickpea soup), melt-in-your mouth lamb tagines, crispy pastillas (pigeon pies), and syrupy pastries under the stars or at Marrakech's top tables.

Photo Caption: Jemaa el Fna is always bustling with frenetic energy, but it is amplified at night. Photo by happyhusky/Frommers.com Community
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The rooftop terrace of Kosybar. Photo by Andy Christiani
As the setting sun makes Marrakech blush, sip sundowners on the roof terrace of Kosybar and watch in wonder as the storks swoop down to their nests atop the Badi Palace walls. Their amorous bill-clattering mingles with lounge beats.

Photo Caption: The rooftop terrace of Kosybar.
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Unwind with Marrakech's hip set at Nikki Beach. Photo by Andy Christiani
Slap on the factor 30 and boost your x-factor at one of Marrakech's über-cool urban beaches such as La Plage Rouge or Nikki Beach. Join bronzed supermodels and celebrities as you indulge in champagne cocktails under the palms.

Photo Caption: Unwind with Marrakech's hip set at Nikki Beach.
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Essaouira. Photo by Andy Christiani
The chilled seaside hangout of Essaouira, made famous by Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, is the must-do day trip whether you want to ride Atlantic waves, learn the secrets of argan oil, munch luscious seafood in a harborside shack, or mosey around the whitewashed medina.

Photo Caption: Essaouira.
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Marrakech, Morocco's nightclub Pacha Photo by Andrea Maticevic
Nocturnal hedonists gravitate toward Hivernage and Guéliz in Ville Nouvelle. Party past your bedtime at Pacha, where superstar DJs pump out electro, or Théâtro for red-hot house anthems. Alternatively, decadent supper club Le Comptoir Darna dishes up belly dancing, exotic cocktails, and shisha.

Photo Caption: Marrakech, Morocco's nightclub Pacha. Photo by Andrea Maticevic/Flickr.com.
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