Wandering the dusty streets and alleyways surrounding the souks you would be forgiven for thinking that the only attraction in this African city is the allure of some haggling in the covered, crowded corridors lined with enticing stalls, specialising in just about everything you could imagine.
Whilst the souks are an experience that no-one should avoid this is not the only reason to visit such culturally rich, historical metropolis.
When visiting any country many travellers will say that it is the people that make the experience unique and often overwhelming. If you are a person that enjoys spending time with locals or have an infinite ability to spend hours people watching then Maison de la Photographie is a must.
Located on Rue Ahel Fes, one of the oldest streets of the medina, you will find this gem blending into its surroundings and embracing the old façade of the building. The art work displayed here enhances the interior of the one-time Inn and gives a sense that it was designed specifically for this purpose.
Home to over 4500 photographs this is an exceptional collection demonstrating the history of a country proud of its heritage. Large works draw your attention making you feel like you are part of the scene. The detail and clarity of some of the photos make it easy to forget that some were taken as early as 1870; a time before computers and digital enhancing and yet you could easily believe that they were taken yesterday.
Not only will you find numerous images of people, each with their own story to tell, you will be able to explore the landscape and culture of Morocco. Rather than having to travel miles to see the archaeological site of Volubilis for example, Henri de La Martiniere, brings the impressive site to you through a lens. There are also numerous other Moroccan landscapes captured by wonderful photographers including Marcelin Flandrin, H. Regnault and J. Robichez not to be missed.
One element that is worthy of people’s time is the series of short documentaries running on the top floor of the museum exploring life of Berber tribes living in the High Altas Mountains. It is not for the quality of the recording itself that you will watch it but for the insights into an almost unknown group of people outside of Africa.
All the photographs you see can also be purchased; unfortunately not the real thing but a print of outstanding quality. So if one particular image does leave an impression you can take it home with you. Likewise, this is one of the few collections of other people’s art work that you are allowed to photograph – so you can click away until your heart is content – just be mindful of your reflection in the glass protecting each image.
A visit to Maison de la Photographie costs 40 Dhs per person (just under £3 per person) and the ticket is valid for the length of your trip, so should you want to go back for more – its free!
Purchased prints vary in cost from 250 – 500 Dhs (between £18 and £36) or you could buy a series of postcards at minimal cost.
For those after something slightly more unusual a visit to the Maison Tiskiwin is an interesting experience. Home to the largest private collection of Moroccan art this museum is a more than just a place to exhibit art work this is the life’s work of one man who has taken the time to explore the country. The owner of the collection, Bert Flint, is a Dutch Anthropologist who has spent years collecting everything from carpets, jewellery, statues and clothes from every imaginable area of the country. His choice of artefact may not always be to everyone’s taste but it is definitely an accomplishment – no other museum has such a variety.
Slightly harder to find on Rue el Bahia, an obscure side street, closer to the Bahia palace, the building once again has been chosen for its delightful interior. If you are not interested in the artefacts themselves I guarantee the zellij and woodwork present as you saunter around will cause you to stop; the elaborate designs are beautiful and you have to wonder about the skill of the person that could create such visually attractive artwork
Maison Tiskiwin is open daily from 9.30 – 12.30/3 – 6pm and costs 15Dhs per person (just over £1).
Both museums are highly rated by many that have visited, which should make them both places of interest for anyone wanting to explore Marrakech.