History of Marrakesh
Marrakesh was founded in 1062 by Yusuf ibn Tashfin of the Almoravid dynasty and served as the capital of the dynasty until they fell to the Almohads. The Almoravids had much control over the caravan routes through the Sahara. They constructed a Kasbah at Marrakesh, whose red tint gave rise to the nickname of Marrakesh being "The Red City", and planted a palm grove. Tachfine's son, Ali Ben Youssef oversaw an influx of artisans from Spain to the city who developed the ramparts of the city as well as an irrigation system.
In 1147 the Almohads, who were Berbers, took over the city, destroyed the medina, and rebuilt the city as their own capital. Under Yacoub el Mansour, palaces, mosques and gardens were built throughout the city and the famous Koutoubia Mosque was completed
In 1269 it came under the control of the Marinids who moved the capital to Fes.
Under the Saadi rule in the 16th century saw a return of Marrakesh as the capital. Ahmed el Mansour oversaw the creation of the El Badi Palace and the Saadian Tombs.
In the 17th century the Alaouite dynasty, under Moulay Ismail moved the capital to Meknes and plundered Marrakesh's palaces and monuments in order to décor his new capital city.
In the 18th century, Moulay Ismail's successor, Mohammed Ben Abdellah was instrumental in the restoration of Mararkech, and built the Menara gardens.
With the French colonization of Morocco in early 1900s, Marrakesh was placed under the governance of Pasha El Glaoua. A French new city was started outside the medina walls in 1913
Marrakech has become the hottest spot on the Moroccan tourism scene. Most tourists hang out in the old part of the city, near Jmaa Al Fnaa. The old medina is filled with markets in which to shop, riads in which to stay and Jmaa Al Fnaa is an experience unlike any other.
The new city in Marrakech has some super trendy parts (Gueliz), high end international cuisine and shops and feels like a European city.
Historical Sites & Noteworthy sites
1. Jmaa Al Fnaa- The city plaza is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its famous story tellers.
2. Koutoubia Mosque- 12th century mosque just adjacent to Jmaa Al Fnaa
3. Ali Ben Youssef Medrasa - Founded in the 14th century by the Marinids
4. Saadian Tombs- Built by Ahmad al Mansour and rediscovered in 1917-
5. Bahia Palace- built in the late 1800s by the craftsmen of Fez
6. Jardines Marjorelle - developed in the 1940's by the French painter of the same name. In the 80's it was restored by Yves Saint Laurent..
Best Books on Marrakesh
Marrakech Evasions- its available only in the bookstores of Marrakesh but it is by far the best guide book on Marrakesh.
Marrakesh: Through the Writer's Eye, by Barnaby Rogerson and Stephen Lavington. The book brings together various writers essays on Marrakesh.