Jamaa el Fna, sometimes spelled as Jemma el-Fnaa or Djema el-Fna or Dejmaa el-Fnaa, is the main square of Marrakesh located in the medina quarter of Marrakesh (which is the old city). This is a square and a market place of Marrakesh which is used by locals and the tourists. Being a very famous place in the world, it has now become the political, cultural and economic centre of Marrakesh since long time.
Marrakesh was the capital of Almohads and was founded in between 1070 and 1072 by the Almorvaids. The place was a major centre for the country’s political, economic and social central tasks since then. The western Muslim world consisted of the population under the Muslims rulers of North Africa and Audalusia. The major monument of that period is Koutoubia Mosque which has an exceptionally tall and unmatchable minaret having a height of 77 meters. This is a very essential monument in the architectural history of the Muslims. Many other monuments were later introduced in the town like the Ben Youssef merdersa, Badia Palace, Bahia Palace, les Saadians tombs, etc. But the Jamaa El Fna has been the most amazing one for most of the tourists. Jamaa El Fna fell in the hands of the Almohads in the year 1147. They renovate most of the city and the square was also renovated a little in the process. Abou Yocoub Youssef extended the city walls. Everything surrounding the square, like the hospital, the Palaces, the Mosque, the parade ground and all the gardens were overhauled. But the Jamaa El Fna was always the way it is today. The Square is listed in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and is like an open-air theatre for them. The square is very well-protected and most of it is original, well-conserved and cultured. This Medina of Marrakesh has been original in culture as well as nature which make it even more attractive than the rest of the city.
The Jamma El Fna is the place where you can find a number of masterpieces, each of which is more impressive than the other. The exanples of such masterpieces of art and architecture include the ramparts and gates of the monument, the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadians tombs, the Badia Palace’s ruins and remnants, Menara water feature, and the Bahia Palace. Each of these buildings and art mentioned are masterpieces in themselves all alone and if you combine them at one place, they create a recognized Universal Value. The boundary of the Jamaa El Fna’s land was inscribed in the World Heritage List which is the exact boundary that is defined by the original surroundings. These borders were revised to increase the space for protection and security of the property as well as the surroundings. The Outstanding Universal Value of the property of Jamaa El Fna Square is increased by the surrounding mosque, tombs, palaces, gardens, water features and pavilions, etc. The interior structure of all these architectural buildings is pretty much original.
The Square of Jamaa El Fnaa is mostly found occupied by the juice stalls offering orange juice, water stalls, youngsters wearing chained Barbary apes, people wearing colorful costumes selling water, carrying traditional leather bags for water, some snake charmers that will also pose for the tourists who want to photograph them. As the time speeds the method of entertainment on the street changes. The snake charmers leave their spot and more people start gathering around the square. You will find some Chleuh boys who dance, some Arabic story tellers, some magicians, others selling traditional medicines, etc. all of who guarantee to entertain you whether you are a local or a visitor. As the day passes and turns into night, the square gets crowded by a number of food-stalls and also the visitors increase. The square is maximum crowded when darkness falls.
The attractions of the square are the games like ‘Hoop-the-bottle’, the fortune tellers who find a spot to fix their umbrellas along with a peck of cards, some ladies with piping balls that are filled with henna paste which will your paint hands, arms or feet and make tattoos (these tattoos lasts for 3 months), etc. The tattoos may be harmful for your skin if you see that the lady is using black henna for making that tattoos as it contains toxic chemicals, whereas if they are using red henna then you have nothing to be afraid of as red henna is pure natural. The story-tellers, magician and performers sometimes request the tourists to participate in their tale very generously which can be rejected if you do not want to. But participating in these sorts of entertaining things is fun and causes no harm to you in any way. But beware of the pickpockets in the crowd who may steal your wallet or watches.
The name Jamaa el Fna comes from very serious words in the local language. The term “Jamaa” is the term for ‘Congregational mosque’ in the Arabian language. The term “Fna” means ‘death’ or ‘some courtyard’. The overall meaning of the name, hence, becomes “the mosque of the death’ or the ‘Assembly of death’ and also ‘the Mosque at the end of the world’. But the locals sometimes get offended by this explanation and prefer calling it as ‘la place’ which means “the Square”.