A Place to Gather
If you read about Marrakesh in any guidebook, or should I say if you google Marrakesh, you will find a description of Djemaa el Fna. It may include the provocative translation “Assembly of the Dead.” Depending on the reader, this name for the square may excite or scare people. If you feel less provocative as a travel writer, you can translate it as the “Gathering Area.”
For me, this translation captures the essence of Djemaa el Fna. It is the place where your travels in Morocco will lead you. You have traveled far to get here, and now you and your companions are meeting thousands of other people. You walk through the square in the daytime and have a glass of fresh squeezed seasonal juice or mint tea. You sip your drink and notice other pilgrims and travelers watching a snake charmer. You wander away from Djemaa el Fna to explore the souqs or marvel at the Katoubia Mosque’s minaret, but you eventually come back to gather at Djemaa el Fna.
You sit with fellow travelers as the sun sets and watch Djemaa el Fna transform around you. Some snake charmers and juice vendors leave, and the evening chefs and musicians will gather. Djemaa el Fna comes alive with the new scents and sounds these people bring. At your table, you may gather with friends or other travelers, and you will share stories about your life and wanderings. You will then head back to your riad for the night, wake up and hopefully gather again in Djemaa el Fna.