Friday, January 17, 2014

81. The Rampart of Marrakech

A city wall probably doesn't sound much like a very exciting subject for a posting - but this is no ordinary "run-of-the-mill" city wall ... and having laboured myself for several years building an abobe  ( mud brick ) house in Maleny ( Australia ), I guess I have an added interest in this wall. 

Route des Remparts

Outside the front gate of my residential complex is the usually busy chaotic and dusty Route des Remparts and on the other side of the road, the ancient city of Marrakech surrounded by a 15 kilometer adobe wall. 



Bab Debbagh - entry into the tannery section of the city

Bab Kechich - the main entry on the eastern side

Inside looking out through the gate ...

inside detail of the wall ...

outside detail - holes in the wall were for ventilation and to place scaffolding ...

Bab Yacout

Construction of the wall was started in 1126 by Ben Ali Yusuf - the son of the founder of the city - as a fortification of the city against invading tribes. The height of the wall varies between 6 and 9 meters and the thickness in most places is around 2 meters.The wall encircles the entire ancient city - known as the medina - and there are several towers atop parts of the wall and over a dozen entry gates giving access to the medina inside. 

Bab El Khemis


The wall has a characteristic reddish colour - like many other buildings in both the ancient and the modern city - and it has been built with a kind of red clay and calcareous material that was extracted from the hills of Gueliz to the north of the city. 

My side of the medina ( Eastern ) is the older part of the city where the dirtier occupations - such as the tannery and motor shops and timber and metal industries - can be found and were the less-affluent Moroccans live in very cramped quarters. It is also the side that accomodates most of the open-air markets ( souks ) and street venders, so it is always a bussling hive of activity. Tourists here are very few - so I am seen as pretty much a rarity and generally left alone - unlike in the internal souks that cater very much for the tourists and where the touts pester the hell out of you ... 

houses and factories have been built up against the wall in many parts ...

and quite often "through" the wall ...

Bab El Jnane

Parts of the crumbling wall hidden from tourist cameras - except mine !!!!

Though in more recent times much of the wall has been cement-rendered and repaired, it is still showing its age !!! ... and neglect in many parts on this eastern side ... and its vunerability against 21st century machinery ...


Bab Yacout


 Bab Doukkala


... however as you progress around the northern top to the western side - where the more afluent folk live in modern apartment buildings, and where the expensive tourist hotels and spas can be found, the wall gradually takes on another character - that of a more manicured and showy appearance ...

Bab Moussoufa

one of the many towers along the way ...

Avenue Mohammed V running through the wall

Bab Nkob

Bab Nkob - another view


... with paving and lawned areas, shrubs and rose gardens abutting the ancient wall ... not a trader nor donkey cart in sight ...

Bab el Raha



Boulevard El Yarmouk - no donkey carts, no heavy transports, no traders ...
just up-market apartment buildings and expensive hotels ...


Ending the post with roses from the sidewalk gardens ...




I have taken you only half way around the wall ... in a later post we'll explore the southern side - even more contrasting and including outside the Royal Palace ...