Marrakech Desert trip 2.
But for now, the program was to traverse the broad valley in which Marrakech sits, covered with palm groves and olive trees, and to climb into the snowcapped Atlas Mountains stationed picturesquely behind the city. Next up was a lunch stop in Ourzazate, a hub for moving tourists and home to the Studios of Cinema, but notable for little else. After a lunch of couscous, we decided not to look around Ourzazate due to the constant drizzle and instead hopped back in the bus. We headed for the Dades Valley, which threads a course between the mountains of the High Atlas to the north and the rugged Jbel Saghro range to the south. The Dades is home to the largest oasis in eastern Morocco and is lined, up and down, with kasbahs, giving the valley the name Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs. And, indeed, we did see many kasbahs out of the fogged windows of the bus, but we didn't stop to see them up close, as much for keeping a schedule as for keeping dry .
It is of course part of any tour through Marakech, but lets hope this sort of labor is over soon - although I may imagine, that lots of people in Maroc are glad to have at least this sort of job....
This pic looks a bit strange as I used a 1000ASA-film, that I had taken with me for real dark places and finally used here as well - for the first and last time !
Marrakech architecture and designs
This is inside the Saadian Tombs, built by the Saadian sultan Ahmed al-Mansour in the early 16th century. The sultan himself, along with 65 of his family and later successors, are buried here and the tombs lay undisturbed for centuries, sealed and hidden away amid the maze of Marrakech alleyways until the 20th century.
Windows in traditional Moroccan buildings rarely face on to the street - exteriors are often just a blank wall without any hint of what is hidden behind. This window in the Ali ben Youssef Medersa is one of the most ornately decorated and looks out over the courtyard below.
The Ali ben Youssef Medersa was the largest theological college in the whole of the Maghreb region and is another stunning 16th century Saadian building. This is the main open air courtyard and it's a beautiful sight - the walls are intricately carved from top to bottom - as well as being incredibly peaceful and relaxing, despite being in the heart of the busy souks of the Medina.
The courtyard of the Musee de Marrakech (the museum) is covered but just as splendidly designed and decorated as any other. The fountains and pools that fill the rooms with the sound of water make it a very soothing place.
Not all parts of the museum are in pristine condition - in places the paintwork shows its age. But it reminds you that these incredible buildings are centuries old and an essential part of Morocco's history.
Islam has been incredibly important in Morocco for hundreds of years and it's very common for verses from the Qu'ran to be carved into walls and pillars. The level of detail in the paintwork and the time it must have taken to carve matches anything I've seen in the oldest and most classical English churches.
Dar Si Said was one of Marrakech's most prestigious 19th century houses, its many rooms and floors centred around a large garden and courtyard fountain, with birds resting in the branches of the orange trees. Today it's the Museum of Moroccan Arts with a great collection of jewellery and pottery.
Most of the old riad courtyards have fountains and some sort of water system. The sound is refreshing and it looks attractive but the water also cools the house. Ali ben Youssef Medersa has its own large pool, with brightly painted tiles lining the floor.