27 November 2012

Meeting Old friends and New
Jewish cemetery


A quick pancake breakfast, and off to the post office at the main square to meet David & Sophia.  We were early.  At some point we were wondering what we would write in the blog if they didn’t show up.  Luckily for them, we dont have to put it in here.  David turned up first.  Same as ever.  Needing a shave as usual (I can’t really talk, as last night is the first time I have taken a razor myself for a while)  Then Sophia.  Their friends, whom we thought were coming later were with them.  John and Cosmo.  It was great to see them, and glad they are joining us for a bit in Morocco.  Don’t know why they want to hang out with a couple of middle aged people though!


David, Sophia and their two Aussie friends.

David, Sophia and their two Aussie friends.

We sat and drank tea.  Catching up on all the goss, and some of their travels, whilst relaying ours.  This took a while, and although it would have  been good to do this all day, we should do something.  So we decided to start walking.  The first attraction (we are tour guides again) was Koutoubia Mosque.  A very important ancient mosque in the city.  It doesn’t look that old at the moment, as it has been renovated, but still has an impressive minaret.  70m high.  Built by the Almohad (Saltan El Mansour) around 1150AD in classical design.  A lot of the features used at the time have widespread use now.

The guest quarters

The guest quarters

From here, we dumped them at the tombs we had seen, as they are worth a look.
El Badi Palace was next on the guided tour of Marrakesh.  If we could find it.
Built by Hamed El Mansour.  He wasnt ment to be king, but after the battle of the three kings, he was the only one left standing, as the Portuguese were captured or slaughtered, their puppet king killed, and the rightful king was also slain in battle.  He just happened to be the next in line.  He embarked on a major building spree with the money raised from ransoming the remaining Portuguese nobility!

Eventhough not much is left, you can still see how great it once must have been.

Eventhough not much is left, you can still see how great it once must have been.

El Badi was known as the Incomparable, as it was so luxurious for its time.  Sultan Ismail was next in line, and spent the next ten years stripping the place.  Now it is just a ruin.  There are the main walls outside, and sunken pools inside, that are now orange groves.  It would have been quite stunning, but there is little left to show this.  Some of the guest wing still has its tiles, and there is a reconstructed room, that you cannot go into, but from the outside, its decorations are striking.  There is also a terrace you can go up to see all the satellite dishes nearby, or if you prefer, you can look at all the storks and their nests, as it is quite a popular spot for them as well.
There is also the Minbar.  This is a pulpit for the Muslims.  commissioned in 1137 taking 8 years to build.  At the time it was one of the best pieces of Muslim art in the world.  Intricate wooden inlay surrounds it, and the detail is amazing.  In 1962 it was moved from the Koutoubia Mosque for restoration, and as non-Muslims are not allowed into mosques, was kept here for the tourists to gawk at.

Synagogue Lights.

Synagogue Lights.

Then off to the Jewish sector.  David picked up a guide here, and we probably would have missed the synagogue without him.  The synagogue is modest on the outside, but very pretty on the inside.

Jewish Cemetary

Jewish Cemetary

There is not many Jews left in the city, but it does have a stable congregation.  Not having seen many synagogues, it was good having David there to explain what everything was and ment.  There was also a nice lady there that was also willing to help us, but unfortunately, she had to go to another appointment.
As we left, the “guide” was still hanging around.  Explaining we had made a donation to the synagogue, we tried to shake him off.  He was persistent, and the others strode ahead leaving me to deal with him.
A quick visit to the cemetery, where we had a rundown on the different sects of Judaism.  The cemetery is at least three hundred years old on the surface.  However due to lack of space, it is built on top of an earlier graveyard.  The style of graves are (we think) unique.  The older ones are brick with concrete, or plaster over them creating half cylinders.  Some also have little boxes beside them with small chimneys on top.  This is for candles done in remembrance.  Most of the time people just put a rock on the grave.

Thats about it for the day.  The rest was just catching up.  John and Cosmo are only in Morocco for a few days, so David and Sophia are heading to the waterfall with them tomorrow.



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