Djemaa el Fna, is wild, loud, and in your face, the world famous square and market place in the ancient wall of the Marrakech’s medina quarter. The origin of it’s name remains unknown, it means ‘assembly of the dead’ in Arabic, but as the word djemaa also means mosque in Arabic, it could also mean place of the vanished mosque, in reference to a destroyed Almoravid mosque.
The square is the highlight of any visit to Marrakech, used equally by locals and tourists. During the day it is mostly occupied by orange juice stalls, youths with chained Barbary apes, water sellers in colourful costumes with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, and snake charmers who will pose for photographs for tourists. Musicians, dancers, and story tellers pack the square at the heart of the medina, filling it with a cacophony of drum beats and excited shouts. As the day progresses the entertainment on offer change. The snake charmers depart and in the afternoon and evening the square becomes more crowded with Chleuh dancing boys and storytellers telling their tales in Berber or Arabic to an audience of appreciative locals. There are also magicians and peddlers of traditional medicines. As dark descends the square fills with dozens of food-stalls and the crowds are at their height.
The Koutoubia Mosque right beside Djemaa El Fna is named after the bookseller’s market that used to be located there. At night the mosque is beautifully lit.
The souks or markets of Marrakech just adjacent to Djemaa El Fna are where you can buy almost anything, from spices to shoes, jalabas to kaftans, tea pots to tagines and of course jewellery!