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The Cultural Space of Djamaa el-Fna Square

Morocco  

Djamaa el-Fna Square is situated near the medina of Marrakesh, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A cultural crossroads, local people as well as visitors use it as a central meeting place. They come for entertainment and trading - even medical treatment. Here they find storytelling, acrobatics, musical recitals, comic acts and stunts, dancing, animal shows, snake-charming, glass and fire-eating. The square also hosts fortune-telling, astrology, numerology, one-hole miniature golf, and preaching. Even dental, traditional herb medicine and henna tattoo businesses are established here. Trading includes fruit, bread, water-carrying and the rental of lanterns during the dark evenings.

Djemba el Fna Square - Morocco.jpg (205770 bytes)Djamaa el-Fna Square dates back to the foundation of Marrakesh in 1070-1071, and since then has been the symbol of the city. Travellers have long extolled its cosmopolitanism and vibrancy. It has been protected by law since the 1920s.

Threats: The growth and modernization of Marrakesh increase the vulnerability of Djamaa el-Fna Square. Traffic, pollution, city development plans and tourism are taking their toll.

Action plans: The square aims to be a model of town planning that gives priority to people, culture, encounter and exchange. The 10-year action plan will identify major problems and link together institutions involved in preserving the square. Practitioners' rights will be protected and scientific inventories established. A National Scientific Institute of Oral Heritage will be created to study the history of Djamaa el-Fna Square.