Place de Foucauld, nestled between the iconic Koutoubia Mosque and Jmaa al Fnaa square, is a captivating site that offers a blend of history, tranquility, and lively activity. This square, located on Avenue Mohammed V, serves as a junction where main bus routes terminate, making it a bustling hub for travelers and locals alike. From the elegant horse carriages to the aromatic gardens, Place de Foucauld exudes a unique charm that captivates visitors and offers a glimpse into Morocco’s rich cultural tapestry.
The square derives its name from Charles de Foucauld, a French hermit, holy man, soldier, and martyr who spent considerable time in Northern Africa. Charles de Foucauld was known for his efforts to bridge the gap between Christianity and Islam, and his legacy continues to be honored in the region. Today, the square stands as a tribute to his spiritual journey and the connections he sought to foster between the two faiths.
Avenue Mohammed V: A Gateway to New Town Gueliz
Avenue Mohammed V, which borders Place de Foucauld, serves as a link between the old medina and the modern new town of Gueliz. Buses from the medina primarily travel outside the city walls to Gueliz, where contemporary architecture, boutiques, and cafes coexist with traditional Moroccan charm. The avenue has witnessed the evolution of Marrakech over the years, reflecting the city’s blend of heritage and progress.
Horse Carriages and the Legacy of Luxury
At Place de Foucauld, a row of elegant horse carriages awaits joyriders, reminiscent of a bygone era of luxury and elegance. These carriages, a picturesque sight with their stylish appearance, stand in contrast to the surrounding historic landmarks and create an enchanting ambiance for visitors. The pungent smell, while nostalgic, serves as a reminder of Marrakech’s rich history as a former French luxury resort.
The Revitalized Gardens and the Watermen
The gardens around the famous Koutoubia Mosque, located next to Place de Foucauld, have undergone revitalization, welcoming visitors with well-tended greenery and working fountains. The pleasant surroundings provide an oasis of calm amidst the vibrant city. However, the gardens’ charm has attracted more tourist hasslers, notably the “Watermen.” Dressed in elegant red ethnic clothing and wide-brimmed hats, they approach tourists for photographs, contributing to the lively atmosphere.
Harmony Amidst Contrasts
Place de Foucauld epitomizes the harmonious coexistence of diverse elements in Marrakech. From the historic charm of the horse carriages and the gardens’ tranquility to the bustling activity of bus terminations and the allure of contemporary Gueliz, the square effortlessly bridges the city’s past and present. The juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern, creates a vibrant atmosphere that reflects the essence of Marrakech’s dynamic culture.
Place de Foucauld, with its historical significance, charming gardens, and captivating horse carriages, embodies the spirit of Marrakech—a city where contrasts harmoniously coexist. The square, named after Charles de Foucauld, symbolizes the efforts to bridge cultural divides and foster connections between faiths. As tourists and locals mingle amidst the gardens and the bustling activity of Avenue Mohammed V, Place de Foucauld remains a testament to Marrakech’s enduring allure and its ability to preserve its heritage while embracing the allure of the present.