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Marrakech history

Marrakesh is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and was known to early travellers as "Morocco City."

Marrakech history

 Prior to the advent of the Almoravids in the 11th century, the area was ruled from the city of Aghmat. The Almoravid leader, Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar decided Aghmat was becoming overcrowded and decided to build a new capital. Being a nomad from the Sahara Desert, he decided to build it in a plain, away from the mountains and rivers, and chose the site of Marrakech as being in neutral territory between two tribes who were vying for the honor of hosting the new capital. Work started in May 1070, but Abu-Bakr was recalled to the Sahara to put down a rebellion in January 1071, and the city was completed by his deputy and eventual successor Yusuf ibn Tashfin. The city experienced its greatest period under the leadership of Yacoub el Mansour, the third Almohad sultan. A number of poets and scholars entered the city during his reign, and he began the construction of the Koutoubia Mosque and a new kasbah.
Prior to the reign of Moulay Ismail, Marrakech was the capital of Morocco. After his reign, his grandson moved the capital back to Marrakech from Meknès.
For centuries Marrakesh has been known for its 'seven saints'. When sufism was at the height of its popularity Moulay Ismail decided to move the tombs of several renowned figures to Marrakesh to attract pilgrims in the same way Essaouira did at that time with its Regrega festivals. The 'seven saints' (sebta rizjel) is now a firmly established institution, attracting visitors from everywhere. The seven saints include Sidi Muhammad al-Jazuli and Sidi Abu al-Qasim Al-Suhayli.
It was dominated in the first half of the 20th century by T'hami El Glaoui, Lord of the Atlas and Pasha of Marrakesh.
The Monuments of Marrakesh :
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Koutoubia mosque
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The Saadian tombs
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Ben Youssef Madrassa
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El Badi Palace
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Bahia Palace
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Almoravid Koubba
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Marrakesh Museum
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Majorelle Garden
Koutoubia mosque :
is the largest mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. The minaret was completed under the reign of the Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184-1199) and was used as model for the Giralda of Seville then for the Hassan Tower of Rabat.
The name is derived from the Arabic al-Koutoubiyyin for librarian, since it used to be surrounded by sellers of manuscripts. It is considered the ultimate structure of its kind. The tower is 69 m (221 ft) in height and has a lateral length of 12.8 m (41 ft). Six rooms (one above the other) constitute the interior; leading around them is a ramp by way of which the muezzin could ride up to the balcony. It is built in a traditional Almohad style and the tower is adorned with four copper globes.
The Saadian tombs:
This tombs were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century (1917) and were restored by the Beaux-arts service. The tombs have, because of the beauty of their decoration, been a major attraction for visitors of Marrakesh. The mausoleum comprises the corpses of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River. Among the tombs are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family.
Ben Youssef Madrassa:
It was an Islamic college in Marrakesh and was named after the amoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. The college was founded during the period of the Merinid (14th century) by the Merinid sultan Abu al-Hassan and allied to the neighbouring Bin Yousuf Mosque. The building of the madrassa, as it is now, was (re-)constructed by the Saadian Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557–1574). It is the largest Medrassa in all of Morocco. In 1565 the works ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib were finished, as confirmed by the inscription in the prayer room. Its 130 student dormitory cells cluster around a courtyard richly carved in cedar, marble and stucco. The carvings contain no representation of humans or animals as required by Islam, and consist entirely of inscriptions and geometric patterns. This madrassa was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa and may have housed as many as 900 students. Closed down in 1960, the building was refurbished and reopened to the public as an historical site in 1982.
El Badi Palace :
Is located in Marrakesh, Morocco, and nowadays it consists of the remnants of a magnificent palace built by the Saadian king Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578. The original building is thought to have consisted of 360 rooms, a courtyard of 135 m by 110 m and a pool of 90 m by 20 m, richly decorated with Italian marbles and large amounts of gold imported from Sudan. It also has a small, underground, tunnel-like jail with about four cells where the king kept his prisoners. Unfortunately, this fairy-like palace, which took approximately 25 years to construct, was torn apart by the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail who used the materials to decorate his own palace in Meknes. The design of the palace is influenced by the Alhambra in Granada.
Bahia Palace:
Is a palace and a set of gardens located in Marrakech. It was built in the late 19th century, intended to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means 'brilliance'. As in other buildings of the period in other countries, it was intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. There is a 2 acre (8,000 m²) garden with rooms opening onto courtyards. Set up at the end of XIXth century by Si Moussa, grand vizier of the sultan, for his personal use, this palace would bear the name of one of his wives. Here, the harem, which includes a vast court decorated with a central basin and surrounded by rooms intended for the concubines. As the black slave Abu Ahmed rose to power and wealth towards the end of the 19th century, he had the Bahia palace built by bringing in craftsmen from Fez. The structures tell a lot about the taste of the nouveau-riche of its time, and can appear vulgar to modern tastes. It was intended to become the greatest palace of its time, but it is really dominated by hasty planning as well as uninspired detail work. This doesn't make the palace less worth visiting, it is a monument of its time, and served even as the residence of the French resident general, Lyautey.
Almoravid Koubba:
The Almoravid Koubba is next to the museum of Marrakech and about 40 meters south of the mosque of Ben Youssef. It is the only remaining example of Almoravid architecture in Marrakech. It was built in 1117, was restructured in the sixteenth and nineteenth century, was rediscovered in 1948 and excavated in 1952, after having being buried beneath one of the outbuildings of the Ben Youssef Mosque. The dome was once used for ablutions before prayer (relying on the revolutionary hydraulics of khettaras, drainage systems), and also had a system of toilets, showers, and faucets for drinking water. It belonged to an Almoravid mosque, now long gone. The dome is on top of a rectangular bassin. The interior is richly decorated with floral patterns (pine cones, palms and acanthus leaves) and calligraphy. The epigraphic decoration, which covers the frames and borders, is noteworthy for the fact that the foundation inscription is the oldest inscription in cursive Maghrebi script in North Africa. Materials used are marble and cedar-wood. At the entrance and at the top of the prayer room is the inscription: "I was created for science and prayer, by the prince of the believers, descendant of the prophet, Abdallah, most glorious of all Caliphs. Pray for him when you enter the door, so that you may fulfill your highest hopes."
Marrakesh Museum:
The Museum of Marrakesh issituated in the center of Marrakes. It is a palace from the 19 th century which hosts Jewish, Berber and Muslim artifacts. The main reason for the visit is not only the exposed art but also the building itself which stand for the Moroccan architecture´s beauty.
Majorelle Garden
Is a botanical garden in Marrakesh. It was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in 1924, during the colonial period when Morocco was occupied by France. Though Majorelle's art is largely forgotten today -- his oeuvre was made up of gentlemanly orientalist watercolors -- the garden he created is his creative masterpiece. A special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, Majorelle bleu.

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