Why Marrakech is Called the Red City of Morocco?
Why Marrakech is Called the Red City of Morocco

Marrakech, the crown jewel of Morocco, is a city filled with history, culture, and color. Of all its nicknames, “The Red City” is perhaps the most well-known and fitting. But why is Marrakech called the Red City? The answer lies in the natural red hues of the buildings and landscape that give Marrakech its distinctive character.

Marrakech is usually called the Red City of Morocco due to the red mud and red sandstone that was used to construct the ancient city walls and buildings. This distinctive red color gives the city a unique and enchanting appearance.

Let’s dive into more details.

A City Built with Red Sandstone

The main reason for Marrakech’s reddish appearance is that most of its buildings and architecture are constructed from red sandstone. The sandstone quarried from the nearby High Atlas Mountains provides the rich, earthy red color that epitomizes Marrakech.

Red sandstone is used extensively in the city’s historic monuments, palaces, mosques, and walls that encircle Marrakech.

Constructing with local red sandstone was both practical and aesthetic, allowing buildings to match and complement the natural red hues of the surroundings. This gives the city a visual harmony that reinforces its Red City persona.

The Almoravid dynasty that founded Marrakech in the 11th century established red sandstone as the go-to construction material. Famous red sandstone structures built early in Marrakech’s history include the towering Koutoubia Mosque and sections of the El Badi Palace.

Over the centuries, Marrakech continued to grow with its signature red buildings.

Red Landscape and Vistas

Red Landscape and Vistas in Marrakesh

Beyond the buildings, the landscape surrounding Marrakech provides further ruddy hues. With the High Atlas Mountains as its backdrop, Marrakech is literally framed by red rock and clay.

At sunset, these mountain vistas radiate a burnt red-orange glow over the city, intensifying its red personality. Even the walls along the old city, made from local red clay and dirt, reflect these earthy tones.

The red permeates the inner landscapes as well. The central Djemmaa el-Fna square and maze-like souks reveal colorful red buildings, pathways, and alleyways at every turn. From above, it’s easy to understand why Marrakech earns its moniker.

Red Dyes and Textiles

While sandstone architecture defines Marrakech’s structural color, the city’s artisans and craftsmen have also embraced the red aesthetic for centuries. Bright red textiles and dyes are integral parts of Marrakech’s culture and handicrafts.

Red wool hats, carpets, silks, and cotton fabrics stock the souks, providing pops of crimson throughout the bazaars. Traditional red and white striped Marrakech linens are a signature textile of the city.

These red textiles and handicrafts further enhance Marrakech’s identity as a red city, both visually and culturally. The prized red dyes come from natural sources like the pink madder plant, pomegranate skins, and henna plants.

Red: The Color of Joy, Magic, and Luck

For Marrakech and Morocco, the color red carries deep cultural symbolism beyond just aesthetics. Red represents joy, magic, luck, and power. It is a sacred and spiritual color associated with life, energy, and good fortune.

Moroccans use red in celebrations like Amazigh new year and rituals to ward off evil and invoke blessings. Grooms and brides wear red during weddings. Red amulets, clothing, and henna are used in magical practices and customs.

By enveloping itself in red hues, Marrakech embraces these positive meanings and makes them a daily reality through its architecture, landscapes, and handicrafts. The Red City’s alluring atmosphere stems from these symbolic colors rooted in Moroccan traditions.

So next time you find yourself lost in the red alleys of the Marrakech medina, remember, this is a purposeful choice reflecting culture, history, and meaning unique to Morocco’s Red City. Let the vibrant hues infuse you as they have infused Marrakech for centuries.

To learn more about the best time to visit, and places to stay in Marrakesh, check our detailed Marrakech travel guide.

Visit the Magical Medina of Marrakech

The Medina of Marrakech is the historical center of the city and has been a hub of culture and trade for ages.

It features narrow alleys, traditional houses called villas, ancient landmarks, and is home to the residence of the Almohads, a prominent Berber dynasty.

The Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site, that showcases the rich history and architectural beauty of Marrakech and offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history, traditions, and daily life.

While it is possible to visit some areas of Marrakech without going to the Medina, it is highly recommended to explore the Medina to fully immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere and experience its cultural richness.

Hire a private car and driver to explore the imperial city of Marrakech.

Are the walls around Marrakech’s old city also red?

Yes, the historic walls of Marrakech’s old walled city (the medina) are made from the local red clay dirt, giving them a distinct red earth color that blends with the landscape. These towering red walls further reinforce the Red City title.

FAQs About the Reasons Why Marrakech Is Called Red City

When did Marrakech get the nickname Red City?

Marrakech has had the nickname Red City for centuries, likely since the early days of its founding in 1062-1070 AD when red sandstone became the main construction material under the Almoravid dynasty.

The distinctive red hues of its buildings and walls gave rise to the moniker that has stuck to this day.

What makes the buildings in Marrakech red?

The red color of most buildings and structures in Marrakech comes from the red sandstone quarried from the High Atlas Mountains nearby. This natural red sandstone gives the city its pervasive earthy red tones when used as a primary building material.

What red-colored handicrafts is Marrakech famous for?

Some signature red handicrafts of Marrakech include its red wool hats, red and white striped linens, red carpets and rugs, red leatherwork like poufs and bags, and red silks and cotton textiles often used for clothing.

Where do the red dyes for Marrakech’s textiles come from?

Natural sources are used for the red dyes that color many Marrakech textiles. These include the root of the pink madder plant, pomegranate skins, henna plants, poppies, and fig bark. Different materials produce different red tones.

What is the significance of Marrakech in Morocco?

Marrakech is a city with great historical and cultural importance in Morocco. It was founded by the Almoravids in the 11th century and served as a symbol of power and opulence.

Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a center for both tourism and trade.

What are some attractions in Marrakech?

Marrakech is known for its vibrant souks (markets), the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa city square, the ancient Medina of Marrakech, and the beautiful Bahia Palace.

Markets in Marrakech

Visitors can also explore the narrow alleys, visit the Koutoubia Mosque with its iconic minaret, and wander through the picturesque gardens.

How can I experience the charm of Marrakech?

To experience the allure of Marrakech, take a walk down the city’s historical streets, visit the Medina of Marrakech, explore the bustling souks, and enjoy the mesmerizing performances of snake charmers and street musicians.

You can also relax in one of the many traditional hammams or indulge in a delicious Moroccan meal.

Is Marrakech safe for tourists?

Marrakech is generally considered safe for tourists. However, as with any travel destination, it is important to take basic safety precautions.

Keep an eye on your belongings, avoid walking alone in unfamiliar areas at night, and be cautious of pickpockets in crowded places. It is also advised to dress modestly and respect the local customs and traditions.

What are some traditional Moroccan dishes to try in Marrakech?

Marrakech offers a wide range of delicious traditional Moroccan dishes. Don’t miss out on trying tagine (a slow-cooked stew), couscous, pastilla (a savory pastry), harira (a hearty soup), and Moroccan mint tea.

Moroccan dishes

Each dish is a delight for the taste buds and showcases the flavors of Moroccan cuisine.

How do I get to Marrakech?

Marrakech has an international airport, Marrakech Menara Airport, which is served by several airlines from various destinations. It is also possible to reach Marrakech by bus or train from other cities in Morocco.

The city’s central location in North Africa makes it easily accessible for travelers.


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