Marrakesh, Morocco

General Information

Regional secretariat

None

Administrative status

Chief city of the province and prefecture

Medina of Marrakesh

Registration Year

1985

Historical function

Imperial capital

Location and site

Located in southern Morocco, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and at the foot of the Great Atlas mountains, Marrakesh is situated on an affluent of the Tensift in the midst of the Haouz plain.

Urban morphology

At the interior of the walled enclosure of 10 km. length, the irregular medieval plan of the medina of Marrakesh formed the basis of a series of meeting places, including mosques and madrassas, as well as a large square (Djemaa El-Fna). Close to the palaces, the plan takes the form of an orthogonal grid. Green spaces occupy the area beyond the walls.

In the midst of this architectural landscape of reddish pisé, a series of noteworthy monuments evoke, above and beyond the high points and low points of the history of the medina of Marrakesh, each of the various periods since its foundation: the Almoravid pisé fortifications of the 11th century, the Almohad mosque and minaret of Koutoubia of the 12th century, the Marinid mosque and minaret of Ben Salih of the 14th century, the Saadi El-Badi Palace and tombs of the 16th century, and the Alouite Palace of the Bahia of the 19th century.

Registration criteria

Criterion (i): Marrakesh contains an impressive number of masterpieces of architecture and art (ramparts and monumental gates, Koutoubia Mosque, Saâdians tombs, ruins of the Badiâ Palace, Bahia Palace, Ménara water feature and pavilion) each one of which could justify, alone, a recognition of Outstanding Universal Value.

Criterion (ii): The capital of the Almoravids and the Almohads has played a decisive role in medieval urban development.  Capital of the Merinids, Fès Jedid (the New town), integral part of the Medina of Fez, inscribed in 1981 on the World Heritage List, is an adaptation of the earlier urban model of Marrakesh.

Criterion (iv): Marrakesh, which gave its name to the Moroccan empire, is a completed example of a major Islamic capital of the western Mediterranean.

Criterion (v): In the 700 hectares of the Medina, the ancient habitat, rendered vulnerable due to demographic change, represents an outstanding example of a living historic town with its tangle of lanes, its houses, souks, fondouks, artisanal activities and traditional trades.

Historical reference

  • The medina of Marrakesh was founded in 1071-1072 by an Almoravid (Sunnite) tribe which was known for its conquests and had by this time already taken control over the caravan routes of the western Sahara. Members of this tribe constructed a casbah, built a fortification around their new settlement, and planted a palm grove.
  • In 1147, the city was taken over from the Almoravids by the Almohads (Shi’ites), who followed the traditions of the Berbers. After destroying the medina of Marrakesh through religious intransigence, they transformed it into a prestigious capital city. They enlarged the enclosure and confirmed their occupation of the territory with new plantings. This period marked the heyday in the history of Marrakesh.
  • In 1269, the Marinids, a Berber tribe from the high plateaus, conquered the city of Marrakesh after having made Fez their capital. Although new construction was undertaken in Marrakesh after this time, the medina fell into a period of decline.
  • Under the Saadi rule of 1510-1659, Marrakesh became the capital city again and experienced prosperity before being conquered by the Alouites, who also left their mark on the urban fabric of the medina.

Contact

M. Mohamed Larbi Belcaïd

Maire
Commune de Marrakech

Hôtel de ville Boulevard Mohamed V
Marrakech, Maroc
40000

212661241797
[email protected]

Mme Deya Benjelloun

Chef de la division de la coopération décentralisée
Commune de Marrakech

Hôtel de ville Boulevard Mohamed V
Marrakech, Maroc
40000

212661110802
[email protected]

M. Adil Cherrate

Chef de la division de l’urbanisme
Commune de Marrakech

Hôtel de ville Boulevard Mohamed V
Marrakech, Maroc
40000

212661112552
[email protected]