Marrakech Photo Guide
Marrakech Photo Guide
– Best Photography Locations in Marrakech –
[ Marrakech Photo Guide, Photos & Text by Lorenz Berna ]
The summer heat and the bitter winter cold, the dust, the mud brick fortifications, the fluctuating movement of Djema el-Fna and the majestic South Souq make Marrakech an exceptional destination for a photographic journey in this mysterious African city.
To photograph the red city you will need at least 3 days, minimum time to enter the atmosphere.
And to help you doing it, here is my personal list of the best places to photograph in Marrakech, with several tips on how to get the most of each spot.
1. Koutoubia Mosque
The mosque of Koutoubia is one of the photo highlights of Marrakech and like almost all the other mosques of Morocco, can not be visited inside by non-Muslims, so we had to limit ourselves to photographing it from the outside.
For the travel photographer intending to document this magnificent building, my advice is to rotate around it from a considerable distance and use a telephoto zoom or any other focal length able to compress the image a little, helping us to limit the falling lines effect that otherwise would be too pronounced if we get too close due to the considerable height of the minaret.
• Taking the Djemaa el Fna square as a starting point, one can have an interesting composition with a nice frontal view from the end of the south corner of the square.
• For more dynamic photos, a good idea is to go around Elkoutoubia Garden and try to include the palm trees in the composition.
• If you are looking for a wide-angle shot, an interesting point could be the west corner on the ruins of the old mosque. Infact, all the empty space in front of it, highlights the whole mosque.
As always, architectural photographs give their best during blue and golden hours.
Entering the busy souks of Marrakech can turn out to be a memorable experience or vice versa, a terrible one. It all depends on your tastes and ability to expand your comfort zone. One thing is certain: for the lovers of street photography, the souks will probably be the Mecca of Marrakech …
Rue Souq Smarrine and rue Mouassine are the two main streets that branch off from Djema el Fna square. Forget the compass and let yourself be guided by the senses and the beautiful light that filters through the semi-covered roofs.
The best time to photograph the Souks is the central hours of either the morning and the afternoon, when the sun has the chance to filter lightly from the high walls of the narrow alleys.
3. Majorelle Garden – Jardin Majorelle
The Majorelle gardens represent a lush and wonderful refuge from the chaos of the city.
They are perfectly connected to public transport, making it an easy excursion of a couple of hours.
They were created by the French painter and orientalist Jacques Majorelle, who lived there from 1922 to 1962. In the midst of cactus, bamboo and bougainvillea waterfalls he had a cubist villa built which he painted in a dark cobalt blue, inspired by the Berbers’ blue djellabas and the coloured tiles he had seen around Marrakech.
House and gardens were then bought in the 1980s, by the french designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé, who restored it.
Today, open to the public, the villa houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, the Berber Museum and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. Both garden and museums are some of the most visited places of the city.
Because the gardens are usually crowded, it is a good idea to visit them early in the morning.
To photograph the gardens at best, a medium tele 24-70 is the ideal choice.
But if you are ready to add some weight to your backpack, bring something longer with you.
The garden offers an infinity of details and endless compositions which can be isolated better with a longer focal length.
4. Djemaa el-Fna
The beating heart of Marrakech is the huge Djemaa el Fna square located in the medina.
This place is the scene of a myriad of activities, making this square one of the best places to photograph in Marrakech.
Although the square is very lively at any time of day, the animation reaches its peak at sunset when rows and rows of kiosks start to prepare food.
Jugglers, storytellers, snake charmers and some acrobats occupy the rest of the scene surrounded by a crowd of spectators watching and listening.
Obviously, photographers with big lenses are immediately spotted and if you intend to take a picture, expect to be asked to pay something.
So, if you want to get close and capture the feeling and energy of the place without disturbing it, my advice is to wander around mostly with small prime lenses (28mm, 35mm or 50mm).
After exploring the square, sit in one of the rooftop cafes or restaurants to watch the show from above. This is where you will use your telephoto lenses.
One of the best rooftops on the Djemaa el-Fna is Le grand balcon du café glacier and the Café de france. Another terrace to be evaluated may be that of the Argana coffee but in my opinion the mass of the roofs of the stalls below prevent the view of the activities of the square.
In any case, make sure you get a good seat at least two hours before sunset, since you will not be the only ones looking for a nice view of the square from above.
5. El Bahia Palace
Built at the end of the nineteenth century, this building has an irregular structure with many rooms, elaborate reception areas and pleasant gardens.
This palace is one of the best places to photograph in Marrakech thanks to its refined muslim architecture, the elaborate paintings on wooden ceilings and the sophisticated royal internal court built in marble and mosaic, around elegant fountains.
Speaking of mosaics : the light filtering through the windows within the rooms, offers nice opportunities to the travel photographer.
6. Menara Garden
Located about 2km southeast of the Koutubia mosque, the Menara Garden is a quiet place where you can create beautiful photographs especially at dawn when you are most likely to be alone.
At the center of the olive grove there is a large pool overlooked by a pavilion that you will surely have already seen on thousands of brochures and tourist information.
It is a very suggestive place especially when the humidity in the air is low allowing you to see the high mountain range in the background.
6. El Badi Palace
The most famous of the palaces of Marrakech was considered at the time of its construction (1580-1600ad) as one of the most beautiful in the world.
What you can see today, however, is only part of the whole, being the private apartments incorporated in the current royal palace and therefore closed to the public.
Its dimensions are impressive with the 90mt of the central pool surrounded by orange groves and the massive ruined walls where dozens of storks have nested.
That’s it for Marrakech’s Best Photography Locations, hope this has been helpful somehow…
Be Happy, stay in Focus and Travel more!
– Lorenz –