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Marrakech, the Southern Perl

Adventure awaits in the medina

Marrakech gave its name to Marocco, and though it is no longer the capital, and its prestige has several times increased and plummeted over the past thousand years under different rulers, the "Southern Perl" - as it is often called - is still located on an amazing spot.

The Medina was founded in the 11th century, and its walls built in 1126-1127. When the ruling dynasty, the Almoravids, fell in 1147, most of their monuments were destroyed. Then under the Almohads (1147-1269), Marrakesh prospered more than ever before. And on the remains of the Almoravid constructions was built the Koutoubia Mosque and its 77-meter minaret, an essential monument in the Muslim world, and a major landmark in the urban scenery of the city.

Adventure awaits in the medina (old city), with its fondouks (artisans' workshops), seven zaouias (saints' shrines) and stalls ladling up steaming bowls of snails and sheep's head soup.

The focal point of Marrakech is its celebrated square, the Jemaa el Fna. Towering over the scene is the stately Koutoubia minaret, a template for Hispano-Mauresque architecture and a reminder of the importance of Islam to the lives of the city's residents.

The sun shines nearly all year round in Marrakech's Mediterranean climate. Those who enjoy the heat should stay during July and August, but the best time to travel to Marrakech is during spring (March to June), when bright blue skies offset the rose-hue of the city's clay buildings and temperatures are comfortable.

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