A peaceful coexistence in Morocco

Day 4
Marrakech, Morocco

Luckily, many of the monuments to visit here are located within the medina’s walls. We spent today seeing all the major sights while taking mental notes about where we might want to return to.

Ali ben Youssef Medersa is only a short walk from Dar Saria, where we are staying. The medersa is the city’s theological college originally founded in the 14th century. It was restored in 1564, and the intricate stucco and carved wood decoration are detailed to the point of mesmerizing.

Right next door is the small Marrakech museum, housed in Dar Mnehbi, a restored 19th century palace, with temporary art exhibitions. For us though, the real treat was the building itself, with its excess of zellij and stucco work.

The real test of the day came on our walk back through the medina en route to Djemma el-Fna. Passing cones of spices, wonderful hand-made lanterns and every possible product in between, we somehow found our way — and all without buying anything!

Our destination was Kozybar, a nice outdoor lunch spot whose roof deck offers tremendous views of the many storks that nest on the walls of Dar el-Bacha, an old palace. Right next door is another former palace, Palace de la Bahia, whose many rooms and courtyards hosted P Diddy on a visit to Morocco in 2002. Again, the level of painstaking detail was evident everywhere — in the metal work and stone carvings.

East of the main medina, in an area infrequently visited by tourists, is the mellah. It is here that Morocco’s remaining 300 Jews live among their many Muslim neighbors. Seeing this peaceful coexistence again gave me hope that the same might be possible elsewhere in the world. Perhaps the most interesting part of the mellah was the Jewish cemetery. With the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop, there are hundreds of graves, some dating back over 500 years.

Last on the list was the Jardin Majorelle, an exotic sub-tropical garden owned by the Yves Saint-Laurent Foundation. It was a welcome break from the hectic pace outside – and an opportunity to reflect on all that we saw today.

Tomorrow, we travel to Essaouria, an 18th-century Atlantic port.

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