The History of Marrakech

Morocco has originally its name from Marrakech. In the old Arabic chronicles, Marrakech is named Mraksch (“the town”). The name has been changed over the decades to Morocco and would be taken as name for the whole countryMarrakech, called also “the Red City,” because of the red wall surround the old town, the medina.

First Marrakech was just a resting-place for the caravans, but the leader of the Almoravids Abou Bekr recognized, that this place is a fantastic place for his troops. Looking at the horizon, his cousin Youssuf Ibn Taschfin constructed the first mosque and the first houses.  In 1062, he was also responsible for the great palm groves (Palmeraie), which can be still admired today in the northeast of the townThis was starting-point to conquer the whole country just to Andalusia. Marrakech became his capital town of his empire. The town is built little by little by the Almoravids (under Ali Ihn Yousuf), by the Almohads (under Abd el Moumen, in the 12century) and extended by Abou Yakoub Youssuff and Yakoub el Mansour. Just the 9km long red earth wall is preserved from the Almoravid Empire.

Eventually, Marrakech’s success turned into a religious, cultural, and trading center and it resurged in the 16th century—despite its period of decline. It’s been said that until 1867, Europeans were prohibited from entering the Marrakech unless they were granted permission by the sultan. Overall, one of the most popular sites in Marrakech from this period in Moroccan history is found in the Kasbah. Set in a small garden, the16th century dynastic tombs of the Saadiens are among the finest examples of Islamic art, not least for the intricate stucco decoration and cedar ceilings of the mausoleum. Although, Marrakech suffered the same episodes as the rest of Morocco where the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the French attacked the country, sometimes to try and defeat the pirates, sometimes to retaliate for having been too lenient on piracy. But, in general, to control the natural resources and its privileged location as the door to Africa.  Finally, the French were able to colonize Morocco, which brought on the significant change in language. French is actually still spoken by many Moroccans.

Following World War II, many vacationers began to come to Marrakech. The tourism uprise was led by King Mohammed VI, who built luxury hotels, shops, restaurants and other tourist attractions—although, modern luxuries were still new in this time period. Mohammed VI was responsible for the social reforms that took place in the country. To this day, the city actually still uses its 11th century irrigation system to water the gardens.

As time went on, the country made huge bounds in economic progress thanks to development by the French of rail and road infrastructure and the introduction of hydro-electrical installations, irrigation systems and national education. The modern commercial and residential quarter of Guéliz, outside the Marrakech medina, was completed shortly before Morocco became a fully independent country once more in 1956.

To this day, Marrakech is a popular place to visit among tourists, and there is plenty of history to explore while visiting the ancient city.

Post Author: Kenzi Murray