Jemaa el Fna, the largest outdoor restaurant in the world
Most travelers have heard of Jemaa el Fna before arriving in Marrakech, even if they don’t know how to pronounce it. The square is the historic heart of the medina of Marrakech and remains the number one landmark in the city.
During the day, there is a somewhat deserted atmosphere at the center of this area while on its edges you will find snake charmers, monkeys, carts of fresh orange juice, ladies offering tattoos with henna and traditional water sellers.
The name Jemaa el-Fnaa means “Assembly of the Dead” or “Place of the missing mosque”. No one is sure of the exact meaning, although locals believe the name refers to an Almoravid mosque, which was destroyed centuries ago.
At the end of the afternoon, Jemaa el Fna square is filled with young people busy building kitchens, tables and chairs so that it becomes the largest open-air restaurant in the whole world. Indeed, every evening the place is invaded by itinerant restaurants which offer Moroccan salads, grilled meats, fish and many other Moroccan delights. Some of its stands specialize in snails, sheep heads, or lentils and beans.
Far from the food stalls, storytellers and other artists draw crowds of people around them with stories of mystery, music and sometimes boxing matches. While around Jemaa el Fna are shops and restaurants, most with terraces offering magnificent panoramic views of the continuous movement of the most famous square in the kingdom.