Photoblog: The Colorful Labyrinth of Marrakech

Posted on March 16, 2010 by

Anyone who’s been to Morocco knows of its blinding colors and senses-assaulting smells. The Djemma el Fna souk in Marrakech in particular, erupts with vibrant energy, chaotic beauty and characteristic fervor. In the day, get lost amidst its labyrinth-like market, picking out jewels and carpets. By night, the open-air food market roars alive with aromatic snails and sizzling goat head – perfect for the adventurous foodies.

During a recent road trip that brought us from Southern Spain through Northern Morocco into the heart of Marrakech, we revisited the charismatic city, reacquainting with it through its alleys, mosques and palm tree deserts. Here’s a pictorial tour of Marrakech through our eyes, hope you’ll feel its beauty as well.

Djemma el Fna by night

The night lights of Djemma el Fna radiate brightly in contrast with the gentle glow from the mosques in its surrounding. For an excellent view of the souk from above, head up to one of the many rooftop terraces that line the square.

Multi-colored spices on sale Multi-colored spices piled up in heaps are sold all over the market.

A vendor selling snails.

Food is a particular draw in the outdoor food market for Djemma el Fna. Here, a vendor stirs his pot of snails while the aroma pulls in the crowd, including us.

 Snails Snails up-close – a bowl like this for US$2 is an excellent appetizer

Meat skewersBrightly colored meat skewers and sausages on display as vendors prepare their charcoal grill.

 Street food stall

Street stalls

tn_IMG_9657Barbequed meat skewers sizzling from the fire, sprinkled with spicy chilli.

tn_IMG_9666  Goat heads stewed in herb gravy – a must-try for dare-devils.


The souk in the day As sunshine seeps through the rooftop, the souk is slowly waking up in the early hours, preparing for a busy day of bargaining.

tn_IMG_9728A Berber dressed in traditional costumes roam the plaza.


My photoblog series feature the best images taken by myself and my partner, Alberto Molero. Check out other posts in the same series for more of our photography around the world.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

50 Responses to “Photoblog: The Colorful Labyrinth of Marrakech”

  1. JoAnna March 15, 2010 8:55 pm #

    I would really like to go to Marrakesh … and your photos made me hungry! I especially like the second one with all the colorful spices. It looks like a fantastically beautiful place to travel.

    • Nellie March 16, 2010 1:06 pm #

      Good to see you here JoAnna! I honestly had a strong urge to tip the heaps of colorful spices with my finger. Marrakesh is a magical place, so visually stimulating and unfathomable.

  2. TheJetpacker March 16, 2010 3:55 am #

    I can't wait to check out Marrakesh one of these days. Are the horror stories true: do people stalk you for blocks trying to get you to buy stuff?

    What are some interesting things you ate? We're mildly adventurous when it comes to food. Goat head? Probably not. Something on the goat that isn't looking at me? Probably.

    • Nellie March 16, 2010 1:04 pm #

      Thanks for the funny note! Yes, they can be rather persistent when it comes to selling you an Arabic lamp or a leather bag. But I wouldn't call that a horror story. With a straight face and a strong 'no', you're on your way.

      Interesting foods – I would say the goat's head beats everything else. The snails were bigger than most I've eaten, with their antenna-like eyes in tact. We also had pigeon meat pie, that was to die for. The BBQed meat skewers were also crunchy and savoury – especially the intestines and liver.

  3. Gray March 23, 2010 11:14 am #

    Gorgeous photos! What IS that multicolored mountain of spice, anyway?

    • admin March 24, 2010 4:56 pm #

      Good question! I never really asked for the spice’s name, but we did get some to bring home. We also bought a tajine to make typical Moroccan meat stew, I’ll let you know when I try out the spice!

  4. gabybali March 23, 2010 7:14 pm #

    a BIG WOWW, those photos are stunning!!! Would definitely put Marrakesh on my iwannagothere list! Found your blog from twitter from @nellihuang . Greetings from Bali, Indonesia!

  5. waitinginthedark March 23, 2010 2:10 pm #

    Beautiful shots, Nellie! Your photos really show the very special ambiance of Marrakech. I've been there – awww – some 15 years ago, but not much seems to have changed.

    • admin March 24, 2010 4:55 pm #

      Thanks Simon, the photos are shot by my partner in crime, he’s the photographer.

      15 years – I’m sure Marrakesh has changed quite abit since. The food market might have retained its character, but I think the souk and hotel options around Djemma el Fna have developed into quite a touristy hub since Marrakesh is drawing in so many visitors these days.

  6. Anil March 23, 2010 7:18 pm #

    I was there last week enjoying the BBQ – excellent food at the market towards nightfall.

    • admin March 24, 2010 4:52 pm #

      Yes I had the grilled chicken bits including some internal organs just by the street market and they were outrageously good. At nightfall, the food market comes alive – the whole bustling scene is incredible.

  7. Arlene March 29, 2010 12:20 am #

    Morocco has long been on my list of places to visit. But now with your vibrant pictures it is a MUST SEE! Or should I say taste… Lucky to have such a talented photographer in the family. :)

  8. Sofia - As We Travel April 21, 2010 5:18 pm #

    I loved Marrakeh, how the square of death is so alive, with all belly dancers and story tellers!

  9. Arlene May 17, 2010 11:04 pm #

    These are amazing photos. The spices WOW. There was a cooking show on TV from Morocco with these spices used in Tagines and I had to tape it. What a vibrant place to have visited. It is on my list for sure.

    • paul hopkins February 1, 2011 6:25 pm #

      Hi Arlene – not sure if its the same program, but we had the "Jamie Oliver does…Marrakesh" show filmed at my hotel in Marrakech – maison mk. I am out there every month & as soon as I get into the old city, the cooking smells wafting out of the houses instantly makes me think of Marrakech – its the same at home in the UK now – a little cumin, or corriander & I am instantly transported back to North Africa.

  10. Lucy June 10, 2010 4:08 am #

    This is my personal dream destination. The colors the smells, the sun, the colors, the culture, the colors. As you can gather I am inspired by color . Morocco and Spain what a combination. If my clients are looking to really experience time in their own sun, metaphorically, then I advise them to consider this part of the world.

  11. Sonya June 26, 2010 4:51 pm #

    Stunning and lively photoblog from Marrakesh! Love it, thanks Nellie!

  12. Sofia August 17, 2010 4:34 pm #

    That brings back old memories from when I went there, and reminded me how much I miss that food!!
    I could have their cous cous meals all day every day..! The colors were so vibrant, and you really captured that in your photos!

  13. Luke September 15, 2010 2:07 am #

    Your post is a good introduction to what one may expect on a busy night on Jemma al-Fna.
    I like the way you composed food pictures – with general overview followed by a more detailed shot.

  14. Nancie November 30, 2010 5:27 pm #

    Stunning set of shots. The colors are amazing.

  15. paul hopkins February 1, 2011 6:27 pm #

    love the photos – I am a photographer & also own maison mk, a riad in Marrakech. But I never seem to have time to shoot out there & your photos are really good – nice to see some great food shots in the square.

  16. elizabethsalaam February 24, 2011 5:29 am #

    Gorgeous pictures, Nellie! Your opening paragraph had me excited even before I saw them. Good travel writing (plus excellent photos) is a perfect gotta-take-a-break-from-my-work escape. I'm putting Marrakech on my list of musts for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    • Nellie February 25, 2011 6:11 pm #

      Thanks for such kind words! Glad you liked it. Marrakech is definitely one of my favorite places in the world.

  17. Paul: MyPostcardFrom February 24, 2011 9:05 pm #

    Brings back memories of my trip there a few years ago.

    Didn't think I was going to like it as I'm not a big shopper and thought the souks would be a little intimidating but my preconceptions were wrong.

    It was fun to 'get lost' in the maze of the souks and the square just comes alive at night. Kissing a snake in the square is definitely something I wont forget!

  18. Jaime September 8, 2011 3:18 am #

    Oh great post… love the photos!!!

  19. Duncan @ Travelistic March 22, 2012 10:28 pm #

    Amazing colours.. I loved Marrakesh when i was there, but could not stand the smell of the snails in the Djaama el Fna!

    Never did pluck up the courage to bring some spices home with me..


  20. Ferias Baratas April 10, 2012 8:07 pm #

    Amazing photos. Marrakesh is unique.

  21. Jeff Dobbins May 13, 2012 10:11 pm #

    Love Marrakesh, and loved this post. I hope to return soon and vow to work up the nerve to try the goat head (there was quite a crowd around that stall, so I must have missed something).

  22. HexColor June 13, 2012 9:34 am #

    I am glad you noticed that DHL guy! it was the funniest thing ever to see him running through this narrow alleys

  23. danielwalldammit June 15, 2012 4:32 pm #

    The colors are spectacular.

  24. LifePart2 June 21, 2012 8:07 am #

    Makes me hungry just looking at the images.

  25. Açores October 1, 2012 10:26 am #

    Sometime next year we'll be visiting Marrakech with some friends and family. Thanks for those images!!


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