Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jardins de Koutoubia, Marrakech

Strange flowering tree by the Koutoubia Mosque
Les Jardins de Koutoubia is the park area surrounding Koutoubia,  the largest and oldest mosque in Marrakech. It is a great escape from the noise and fumes of the roaring traffic near by.
Washingtonia palm, Mosque in the background
Shade under orange trees
Marrakech is an extraordinary noisy and polluted city. The roars and fumes from old cars and mopeds often feel overwhelming.

There are not many green lungs in central Marrakech to retreat to. One is the gardens surrounding the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. One part, stretch west of the mosque, and another south.

The west garden seems older than the southern. The trees are larger and it seems less planned. Tall washingtonia and date palms are competing with the mighty Koutoubia.

Many plants and trees are found elsewhere in the Mediterranean as olives, orange trees with ripe fruits in abundance. Then you see trees and plans completely new to you.

If you enter the western part of the garden, you are moving towards the Hivernage district and the Mamounia Hotel, where Winston Churchill stayed and called "the most lovely spot in the whole world."

He spent many winters at La Mamounia painting the landscape  and the Atlas Mountains  and Churchill and Roosevelt met here for the Casablanca Conference in 1943.

So when you are getting sick and tired of the roaring traffic boom, you are well advised to retreat to the Koutoubia Gardens for some peace and quiet, before returning to the charming commotion of the Medina.

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