Marrakech, known as the "Pearl of the South," is an oasis in southwestern Morocco at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, with rose-colored ramparts and a thousand year old palm grove. Sumptuous and exuberant, it radiates splendor and mysticism and casts a magic spell on all who visit. Marrakesh has the largest berber market (souk) in Morocco and also hosts the busiest square in Africa. Founded in 1062 as the capital of the Almoravid dynasty, it continued in the 12th century as capital of the Almohads. Marrakech remained a political, economic and cultural center for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. Marrakech also became known as a magnet for some of the greatest saints of Islam, many of whom are buried within the city. Marrakech, like Fez, is a genuinely Islamic city in both its genesis and traditions. Marrakech has impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors and gardens. Other architectural jewels include the Bandia Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs and Place Jamaa El Fna, an open-air theater. The modern city was constructed in 1913 during the French occupation of the country and reflects the European influence. But the essence of the city remains the same.
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