Thirty years ago Marrakesh became a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. To celebrate the anniversary of this prestigious recognition, a panel of Moroccan ministers, UNESCO officials, historians, sociologists and architects convened at the Ben Yusef Madrasa end December 2015.
As one of the monuments that benefited from the rehabilitation and restoration works undertaken in Marrakesh during the last three decades, as one of the city’s most visited places, the Madrasa deserved to be on the spotlight. Built in 1570, the ancient Koranic school is a labyrinth made of tight stairs, deep windows, low ceilings, heavy wooden doors as well as an extravaganza of ornaments, zelliges and sculpted marble.
At the madrasa I also found what the theme of heritage have come to represent for several cities around the world: a smart way to attract tourists and new breed of residents. The combination of the joint efforts by the municipalities and conservationists, the realization among the population of the importance of preservation and the involvement of other stakeholders such as the local tourist and hospitality industries make it possible for sites of great historical value to serve new purposes in the modern age.
While a robust and diverse offering of hotels – among which are some of the best in the world – and global events, provides Marrakesh with a reputation very few cities in the world can match, there is one unique appeal with heritage: it completes the Marrakesh experience with a holistic journey through meditation, art, and architecture.