In an exotic land steeped with charisma and intrigue, Marrakech sits at the head of Morocco’s table. So much so, that for centuries “Marrakesh” was synonymous with the entire country to which it belonged. Many languages today still refer to Morocco as a version of “Marrakesh.” Situated in the middle of the country, in the foothills of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains, the city is more exposed to traditional ways of life and antiquated methods that have lasted through the test of time. It’s also surprisingly metropolitan though. It hosts the largest traditional Berber market (souk) in Morocco, and Jemaa el-Fnaa is the busiest square in all of Africa. It is located in the old walled section of town known as Medina, which dates back almost a thousand years and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The newer, more trendy (and more gay friendly neighborhood) of Gueliz is found to the northwest of Medina. It’s considered to be more “European” in nature and therefore more liberal by comparison.
A French Protectorate around a hundred years ago, Morocco is still quite popular with French travelers and there are several French celebrities who own property in the Marrakesh area today. The city has also been the filming location for several Hollywood features, most recently The Mummy and Sex and The City 2.
Not just a jumping-off point for local mountain excursions, Marrakesh is fit for the serious shopper, with so many large markets and souks in town, as well as a food-lover’s paradise with interesting, regional cuisine based on its legendary history. With a fabulously varied past, excellent weather, and an appeal all of its own, Marrakesh is one of those fabled places that simply should not be missed.
The Gay Scene in Marrakesh
Marrakech is a fairly conservative Muslim country, though years of French colonization and a decently sized expat community mean there is a gay scene, however quaint it may be.