Known as “the heart of Marrakech,” the Djemaa al Fna (a.k.a. Jemaa el fna) Square vibrates with life—from the enchanting sounds of snake charmers’ flutes to the buzz of haggling shoppers and merchants. Its mysterious bazaars overflow with carpets, metalwork, wood carvings, jewelry, and spices. Steeped in centuries of rich culture, it remains a highlight when traveling Morocco with kids.
During the day, people-watching leads to countless lessons in Moroccan culture (and how to bargain like a pro). The area attracts storytellers who regale children with famous local legends. What’s more, your kids will love the chance to shop for handcrafted Moroccan souvenirs. By night, the square takes on new aromas, flavors, and tunes. Markets transform into food stalls and groups of performers emerge.
Daytime at Djemaa al Fna Square
Marrakech once served as an important stopover on the Sahara Caravan Route, which moved spices, slaves, medicine, and gold. But the caravanners who journeyed the route brought more than cargo and people to the city. They carried a desire for colorful entertainment.
Today, Djemaa al Fna boasts many of the same entertainments that the Sahara Caravan Route drivers enjoyed a thousand years earlier. The square exudes a timelessness recognized by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of World Heritage” in 2001. You and your kids will feel transported back in time as you walk the square and the bazaar alleyways. Of course, this means you will see questionable practices, too. The “medieval circus” atmosphere perpetuates caged monkeys and captive snakes.
Alleyways radiating from the Djemaa al Fna infuse the air with fragrant spices and perfumes, and exotic music fills the air. When you and your kids are ready for a snack, don’t forget the fresh-squeezed orange juice and delectable dates!
Evenings at Djemaa al Fna Square
As the sun sets, the Djemaa al Fna undergoes a remarkable (and rapid) transformation. The busy marketplace transitions into a gigantic open-air restaurant. Gas lights illuminate food vendors and cast a glow on the columns of savory smoke rising from their fires. Food stalls specialize in everything from meat roasting over braziers to stewed snails, a Moroccan treat. Prepare your family for taste bud adventures!
The circus vibe intensifies as individual fortune tellers, dancers dressed as monkeys, and acrobats offer street performances. Groups of entertainers take center stage, too, including Andalous musicians, Gnawa trance-healers, and Aissawa Sufis.
When you and your kids have had enough of the heat of the restaurant fires and the noise from the performers, retreat to one of the plentiful cafes lining the square. Then, relax at a rooftop table, the perfect vantage point for watching the sun drop and the drama rise.
Morocco with Kids
Interested in learning more about visiting Morocco with kids? Check out our nine-day Morocco Family Adventure. This family-focused tour will introduce you to the rich cultural heritage of Morocco. From sipping mint tea with a local family to camping with Berbers in the Sahara, this tour marks the ultimate Morocco family holiday.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours designed for families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.