The city of Marrakech (or Marrakesh), known as the “Red City” or “Al Hamra," is located in southwestern Morocco in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is Morocco’s second-largest city and its population continues to grow. Its beauty lies in its atmosphere and its spectacular location, with the extraordinary peaks of the Atlas Mountains rising up behind the city. It has warm, humid summers and shimmering, white, snowy winters.
The very name Marrakech conjures up images of an exotic, distant city, of hot desert winds blowing in from the Sahara, of magic carpets and snake charmers, and of spices and perfumes brought in by camel trains. Set within the rose-colored walls of the medina lies a reality that is not that far removed—a labyrinth of winding streets that open onto lush green gardens and dark alleyways leading to bustling souks. The focal point is the central square, the Jemaa-el-Fna, an extraordinary gathering place and the social center of the city that at dusk offers a scene little changed since medieval times. And towering over all this is the Koutoubia mosque, the tallest building in the city, and a reminder of the importance of Islam to the lives of the city's residents.
Today, the main focus of the city continues to be the Jemaa-el-Fna, which comes to life after dark and is riot of enticing color, noise and smells, with dancers, fire-eaters, acrobats, snake charmers and fortune-tellers. Rows of trestle tables are set up every evening to serve up barbecued kebabs, boiled snails, mouthwatering tajines and an array of other more-or-less appetizing foods. Around this vast open space stretch the shadowy alleyways of the souks; a vast marketplace selling herbs and potions, carpets and candles, jewelry, spices, meat and metalwork.