Marrakech: Jemaa el-Fna – Everything You Need to Know


Jemaa el-Fna  (Hungered Man Square), also known as the Square of the Jugglers, is Marrakech‘s vibrant center and probably one of the most famous squares in all of Africa.

This is where the heart of Marrakech beats.

The description “La place” is enough to describe to locals where you want to go. Everyone knows it and you cannot avoid Jemaa el-Fna when visiting Marrakech.

At the end of the article, you will find out where you have the best view of the square. In addition, how it is to take photos in Marrakech and see more impressions of Jemaa el-Fnaa and the souks.

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All roads lead to Jemaa el-Fna

It is said that all roads lead to this square. It must be so because day after day I end up in the place that needs no introduction: it’s just the most chaotic, noisy, inspiring, and unforgettable place in the country.

A proverb says:

“If you have a day in Morocco, spend it in Marrakech. If you only have an hour, spend it on Jemaa el Fna!”

At 10 a.m. the hustle and bustle begin.

The daily hustle and bustle start as early as 10 a.m. in the morning. While the mood is still subdued during the day in the midday heat and the pedestrians meander leisurely through the alleys of the souks, life picks up speed at sunset.

From sunset onwards, people stream onto Jemaa el-Fna from the direction of the Koutouiba Mosque

The voices, drums, and rhythmic sounds get louder. While the street theater is at its finest.

Then thousands of Marrakechis flock to the meeting point of the city.

Now give way to the faith healers and “dentists” (I call them quacks with their jars full of extracted teeth). Countless jugglers, storytellers, snake charmers with their cobras, fire-eaters, musicians, and acrobats take the place. 

Games unknown to us are also played: I call this one “fishing for soda drinks” – whoever “fishes” the bottle may keep it.

There are even boxing matches that I could bet on. I usually keep myself in the background here. 

Hundreds of chefs have now set up their grills. Therefore, you can see the clouds of smoke from their grills.

Puffs of smoke from the many grill masters on the Jemaa el-Fna

At the countless food stalls, there is not only first-class food, but for us, it is exceptional food in addition to kebabs, fish, vegetables, and grilled skewers, there are snails and grilled sheep’s heads (these were also available to try on my township tour in Cape Town).

Just as numerous as the juice sellers are the nut sellers, who loudly haggle for the favor of their customers.

A cook prepares food for the hungry customers

Alcohol is taboo (at least in public). That’s why you can get fresh super tasty juices such as orange, pomegranate, lemon, and apple juice from fruit dealers for as little as 10 dirhams (equivalent to 90 cents per glass).

The Souks of Marrakech

A labyrinth for some, for others a shopping paradise

From Jemaa el-Fna you can go directly to the souks. There is no road map for the maze of alleyways in the souks. It would probably not help, because only a few streets are signposted. Let yourself drift.

You are in the middle of shopping in Mecca and you will find everything here: spice dealers, nut sellers, dyers, tailors, booksellers, lamp manufacturers, soup sellers, and creams for all kinds of ailments.

At one stall I discover dried snake skins, toads, paws, and indefinable concoction. Also, miracle cure for everything: from infertility cures to pain relief cures.

One stand further there are lizards, turtles, and chameleons. Are these the pets of Morocco?

You really can find everything here.

I squeeze through crowded and narrow streets. Between honking scooter drivers and donkey carts. I love this unpredictable chaos. 

My walk is like going astray. If I think at one moment that I have to turn right twice to end up back on the main square, 15 minutes later I realize that I have no idea where I am and in which direction I have to go.

The Koutouiba Mosque, which actually serves as a signpost, can only be seen when you already have my destination in mind. Gorgeous – I love it that way!

The Best View of Jemaa el-Fna

You can also get the best views of the spectacle on Jemaa el-Fna from the terrace of the Café de France. Here you can also watch the hustle and bustle and the clouds of smoke from the grill masters passing by with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (there is no alcohol).

Here you can sit and watch for hours:


Good to know

Incidentally, in 2001, the Jemaa el-Fna was the first place to be declared a masterpiece of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind by UNESCO.

Taking photos on Jemaa el-Fna and in the souks

Unfortunately, I hardly took any photos of people here. It goes without saying that I ask people beforehand if I can take a photo. But that instead of the 5 dirhams recommended by the guide, 10 dirhams are demanded by the jugglers, storytellers, and snake charmers is too much for me. It’s rarely worth the 10 dirhams to me, so I can take photos with my companion.

Also, in the souks, you always have to pay attention to the signs or the looks of the people. Furthermore, some signs state that photography is not permitted. You should also ask people for permission. They often refuse for religious reasons.

Women with headscarves have turned away at the sight of a camera hanging around their necks. You should also respect these things.

You should never photograph military buildings, soldiers, or police officers.

More impressions of Jemaa el-Fna and the souks:

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