Jamaa El F’na : the heart of Morocco

Jamaa El F’na; the most iconic landmark of Morocco with the Koutoubia Mosque in the background


Remember when getting to the zoo you marveled at all the beautiful, colorful exotic snakes which were put on display, then you read their labels and got surprised that despite all their beauty how very venomous they were? Well, the scenario is something very similar when it comes to Morocco’s top landmark, the beautiful and cacophonic Jamaa El’ F’na the large marketplace which is the key attraction everyone instantly heads to visit when they happen to stay in Marrakech. It’s beautiful but it can surely bite you in the ass in a second it you don’t pay attention.

That’s exactly why I thought to give you some tips and advices to keep in mind, before getting lost in the crowd in this bustling marketplace.

  • Jamaa El F’na is perhaps the most infamous place of all Morocco a country which is considered one of the safest in all the Arabic world. It is abound with criminals, thieves, Kif-sellers, scam artists and male prostitutes.

What are the most common scams?

  • Animal – pic scam:  these can be snakes, parrots, eagles, monkeys. The all-smiling scam artist would then take a photo of you with the animal in question with an instant – cam then would ask for a ridiculously high amount of money for the pic. Don’t fall for it, you don’t have to take that photo. You can also mention police if they are very persistent. If you are good hearted offer him some coins for his services then get away.
  • The henna artists – only choose those whose works you can observe on the spot and arrange the price in advance.
  • The self-appointed guides: don’t fall for it no matter how nice these behave. You don’t know where they’d take you.  – This is especially for girls travelling without a male company.

  Further dangers:

  • Thieves: where there is big crowd there are many thieves, so this one is pretty self-explanatory and doesn’t need any further elaboration
  • Street food   anyone who has seen a single photo of Jamaa El F’na knows that it’s full of street food stands and the smelly smoke is extremely tempting for many to try out their luck: but I would say steer clear from those stands. I ended up buying these meatballs for the first time and this led me to incredible stomach pains, so the next day I had to go to the doctor and had to take pills for the rest of my Marrakech stay. Do not buy food there. There are lots of well trusted places to do that.

AND FINALLY WHAT TO DO:  The Jamaa is as beautiful as it is dangerous but let’s not forget about all the things you cannot miss out on.

The Jamaa from a different angle: you can see all the rooftop cafés and also the entrance to the shopping street that leads to the main square
  • Don’t miss out on visiting one of the rooftop cafés surrounding the Jamaa. It is easy to find them, you just need to look out for them. They generally are found on the main shopping street that leads to the big square. They are fun and you can stay there for hours and as an extra you can take some of the best photos of the Jamaa from one of these.

Tip: check out the prices before you order.

  • The Jamaa is also an entrance to the beautiful Medina quarter of Marrakech, housing one of the oldest and biggest Medinas in the country. Don’t miss out of this experience however steer clear from the dark narrow streets after dark.
  • The best time to visit Jamaa El F’na is one or two hours before sunset, depending on how much time you would like to spend walking around.

Last but not least: as this is the top landmark of the whole country, it’s understandable that everything is way more expensive over here than anywhere else in Morocco. Check out the Medina for goods, but don’t buy things in the Jamaa itself.