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The hidden treasure of Marrakech

April 5, 2010

Ever wanted to drive through narrow, dusty streets of a medieval city in Africa and suddenly come across this beautiful piece of architecture? A hidden wonder amidst a wretched area of houses and shops? If you do, don’t miss out on the Ben Youssef Medersa Islamic School, home to some of the most beautiful art and architecture in Marrakech, Morocco.

We took two taxis to take us from the suburbs to the ancient city centre of Marrakech. It was a trip we will not forget. Sudden bends in the road, leaving us without any sight of our fellow taxi in front of us. The air in the taxi muggy and dusty, same as outside. Narrow streets where the taxis do not have enough room to manoeuvre rather then to ride on people’s toes. Horse drawn wagons and meat hanging from the butcher’s windows. These are the sights and sounds of daily life in Marrakech. And suddenly you have arrived at one of the hidden treasures of the city: Ben Youssef Medersa.

Medersa 1
Founded in the 14th century, students here memorized the Qu’ran by rote. A central courtyard is surrounded by the student dormitories and home to a small pool for ablutions. The buildings are of stunning architecture, with beautiful decorations.
Just recently I wrote a guest post on on my travels to Morocco. This guest post gave some nice insights, especially on how to travel the country with small children. But this travel tip is surely worth the special mentioning.

If you love the way I shortly described our taxi ride in Marrakech, I can recommend you a must-read book by Dave Eggers called “You should know our velocity”. Two guys visit Marrakech to give away as much money as possible to total strangers! Really, this is a hilarious story. To them the money has become a burden and they search for random people who they believe could use the money far better. They visit Senegal, Morocco and the Baltic States. For me, the ride through the streets of Marrakech inspired me to write this post.

Medersa 4 Medersa 2

Medersa 5 Medersa 3

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