First thing we headed to the Palais de la Bahia which is a 5 minute walk away from the riad. This palace was built by Bou Ahmed at the end of the 19th century. He was a chief advisor to the sultan and built this palace to house his four wives and two dozen mistresses. The architecture was fantastic with many complex designs. There was a long courtyard entrance which led to a number of reception rooms. The palace is still used as a royal residence and in 2001 P Diddy filled it with supermodels and celebrities for a million dollar party. Visiting first thing it was quite busy and there was a number of large tour group.
Close to the palace is the Mellah which is the old Jewish quarter of Marrakech and has a large cemetery. Walking towards the cemetery we were approached by a man offering to take us there, having a vague idea of where we were going we reluctantly followed him. He took us into the Mellah neighbour which had its weekly spice market and a number of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, pastry’s and chicken, dead and alive! He finally led us to the cemetery which we worked out we could have found by ourselves but never mind.
We were the only people in the cemetery and the sun was at its hottest with no shade. It was very eerie as it was so quiet. A Mellah is a enclosed Jewish neighbourhood found in Morocco, the Mellah in Marrakech is the old Jewish quarter as currently there are only a handful of Jews living in Marrakech.
Leaving the cemetery we noticed that the man had waited for us to leave and tried to lead us somewhere else. Quickly we declined and walked away. On the streets there are a lot of young man trying to give you directions or take you to attractions, in return for money.
There’s so many bits and bobs to buy we ended up going on a shopping spree again, coming away with marquetry boxes and mint tea. How we are going to get everything we’ve brought home, I don’t know!
Heading to the riad we had a dip in the pool before our traditional Moroccan hammam and massage. The hammam took place in a room like a sauna, the lady began by washing the body with warm water then black soap. Once she’d done this we were left in the sauna room for about 10 minutes to sweat it out and that we did. She then entered and using a mitten scrubbed the body from head to toe. Once again she washed the body with warm water and then washed the hair. I would compare this to a exfoliation treatment in England, getting rid of all dried skin, perfect to prolong my tan!
Once the hammam was complete we then had a head to toe massage in an air conditioned room which was lovely as it reached about 50 degrees today. A relaxing afternoon was perfect as it was too hot to sit outside in the sun. It was impossible to walk on the tiles without burning the soles of your feet. Although I shouldn’t complain because it’s raining in england, ha ha!
Using trip advisor we found a pizzeria serving Moroccan and Italian dishes. The pizzeria was located just next to Koutoubia mosque with a bird’s eye view over the grounds. As soon as we sat down the call to prayer began and followed by praying which was relayed on a loudspeaker, this didn’t stop for over an hour. The evening prayer had just begun which I believe is the busiest of the day. Watching from above hundreds and hundreds of people descending to the mosque. Koutoubia mosque is the main mosque of Marrakech, most of the people pray outside so there is a fantastic view. Watching and listening from above I was mesmerised, there was so many questions I wanted to ask.
Walking back to the riad the call to prayer sounded again. It’s a very dedicated religion with the call to prayer sounding 5 times a day.