One of the defining aspects of Marrakech Medina is it’s ramparts and gates. As a property advisor in Marrakech one is very aware that the surface area of this old town is not going to get any bigger. Nonetheless, there are still many areas that are yet to be developped and the potential for growth is very real.
The walls surrounding the Medina date from the Almoravid dynasty in the 11th Century. They were completely rebuilt following the Almohad take-over of the city about 80 years later. In fact, the Almohads tore down all the mosques, including the iconic Koutoubia, and rebuilt them slightly more aligned on Mecca.
Some of the lesser known entrances into the Medina are well worth a visit. Clustered around them are bargain properties for sale. This is the original Almohad gate at Bab Doukala in the West of the Medina – it is now unused because a double-arched structure carries road traffic just to it’s left. Doukala is the region of Morocco over towards the Atlantic coast at Casablanca. The defensive gate now houses the occasional art exhibition …
Further South can be found one of the most interesting gates in North Africa – Bab Dbagh, the Tanners Gate. It is built as a defensive chicane. Right next to it are the tanneries – ancient and modern – where the smell of the tanning hides is omnipresent. It’s one of the tougher neighbourhoods in the Medina and retains it’s authenticity as a working quarter for Moroccan families.
Another fascinating area is around Bab El Khmiss – the Thursday Gate. It takes it’s name from the market held there every Thursday. In fact the market is now a daily affair and bargain hunters come from all over Marrakech to browse the antique and second-hand objects. It is a vast, sprawling area housing artisans and sellers. The gate itself is often ignored as the market has spilled out of the Medina proper. Yet it testifies to the fact that the Medina used to be closed with huge wooden gates at nightfall.
Marrakech Medina is an historic and vibrant old city – probably one of the best preserved medieval cities outside Europe. The numerous and fascinating gates through the ramparts offer us a glimpse of what life was like in days gone by.
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