Title: The Essence of Marrakech, Morocco Word Count: 709 Summary: This article tells the reader about Morocco and what it has to offer to travelers. Keywords: morocco, luxury, travel, marrakech, red city Article Body: Only a few hours from Europe is a place where you will marvel at the sights and sounds of a distant land. Boasting a rich history, exotic adventures, open-air bazaars, and an incredible mix of cultures, Marrakech will inevitably seduce each of your senses in a very poignant way. Along with the spectacular scenery, discerning travelers will be instantly lured by the magic of Marrakech. For centuries, the land of Morocco has been attracting travelers in search of adventure and exotic opportunities. The city of Marrakech lies in the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains only an hour away, and excursions are adventurous and in traditional Moroccan style: luxury camping in Bedouin tents, a camel journey lead by a nomad guide through the dunes, horseback riding through the Atlas foothills where ancient caravans traversed, or cycling through crumbling 16th century desert kasbahs (ancient parts of a city). You can visit a traditional Berber village, take a day hike, or trek Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. Hot air ballooning allows you to take in the sites of a diverse landscapes - a beautiful mountain ranges with cliff-hanging villages, emerald tinted lakes, and high altitude pastures. There are plenty of opportunities to shop the souks (marketplaces) and explore the alleyways of this genuinely romantic city. An ancient capital, Marrakech offers the largest traditional market in Morocco and the busiest square in all of Africa. Explorations must be done on foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriages in the labyrinthine backstreets of ancient medinas, where exotic spices waft through crowded narrow storefronts tempting you to do some serious bargain shopping. Souks display colorful pottery and carpets and customary creations of apothecary goods, cosmetics, herbs, jewelry, leather, perfumes, and slippers, all traditional commodities in this Arabic country. Snake charmers, musicians, dancers and jugglers line the souks to entertain and awe tourists and locals alike. In a land full of wonderful surprises, there are many top luxury hotels in Marrakech, diverse as the landscape in Morocco. The Hivernage Hotel & Spa, set in the heart of Marrakech, is a magnificent hotel surrounded by lush gardens and stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. High ceilings, marble columns and extravagant fabrics give this hotel its character. Amanjena Resort, which translates to "peaceful paradise" was built in 2000, and is the first of the Aman Resort on the African continent. Known for offering exclusivity and privacy, this resort is set within an oasis of palms and mature olive trees. Hotel La Mamounia has quite a reputation, in years past, for conducting stately dinners for which men dressed in top hats and tails and women, adorned with jewels, wore long evening gowns. Currently closed through 2007 for extensive renovations, this hotel is set amid tranquil gardens almost three hundred years old, and is known as one of the world's grandest and most exquisite hotels. Marrakech is known as the Red City, or in Arabic as Al Medina al-Hamra, because of its rose tinted building. With the old city (medina) and the modern metropolis, population is estimated to be around two million. Riads (urban houses) are situated around a courtyard and garden, and represent a traditional dwelling place where residents ca n find peace from the clamor of the city. The locals are friendly, and their demanding way of life a constant source of amazement. Men shuffle around in hooded cloaks and begin each day with an exhilarating call to prayer at the local mosque. Becoming part of this culture is inevitable. It is an honor to join a family to dine within a private riad to eat delicious, slow-cooked tajines of lamb and flat Moroccan bread. The drinking of mint tea is customary, as is the exotic art of belly dancing. Eating couscous, socializing and simply soaking up the hospitality is part of a typical Moroccan day. Come and see what this magical country has to offer, from cultural exchanges to adventurous expeditions, and amazing sunsets that display a kaleidoscope of colors. From the snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the endless desert sands, experience a country of dramatic contrasts and a genuine hospitality. The rich history and traditions of this ancient land offer something for every taste. For sheer diversity, it would be hard to imagine a more perfect destination than Marrakech.