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MARRAKESH (erroneously MOROCCO or MAR...

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 753 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MARRAKESH (erroneously MOROCCO or MAROCCO CITY), one of the quasi-capitals of the sultanate of Morocco, Fez and Mequinez being the other two. It lies in a spacious plain—Blad el Hamra, " The Red "—about 15 M. from the northern underfalls of the Atlas, and 96 m. E.S.E. of Saffi, at a height variously estimated at 1639 ft. (Hooker and Ball) and 1410 ft. (Beaumier). Ranking during the early centuries of its existence as one of the greatest cities of Islam, Marrakesh has long been in a state of grievous decay, but it is rendered attractive by the exceptional beauty of its situation, the luxuriant groves and gardens by which it is encompassed and interspersed, and the magnificent outlook which it enjoys towards the mountains. The wall, 25 or 30 ft. high, and relieved at intervals of 36o ft. by square towers, is so dilapidated that foot-passengers, and in places even horsemen, can find their way through the breaches. Open spaces of great extent are numerous within the walls, but for the most part they are defaced by mounds of rubbish and putrid refuse. With the exception of the tower of the Kutubia Mosque and a certain archway which was brought in pieces from Spain, there is not, it is asserted, a single stone building in the city; and even bricks (although the local manufacture is of excellent quality) are sparingly employed. Tabiya or rammed concrete of red earth and stone is the almost universal building material, and the houses are consequently seldom more than two storeys in height. The palace of the sultan covers an extensive area, and beyond it lie the imperial parks of Agudal, the inner one reserved for the sultan's exclusive use. The tower of the Kutubia is a memorial of the constructive genius of the early Moors; both it and the similar Hasan tower at Rabat are after the type of the contemporary Giralda at Seville, and if tradition may be trusted, all three were designed by the same architect, Jabir. The mosque to which the tower belongs is a large brick building erected by 'Abd el Mumin; the interior is adorned with marble pillars, and the whole of the crypt is occupied by a vast cistern excavated by Yakut:, el Mansur. Other mosques of some note are those of Ibn Yusef, El Mansur and El Mo'izz; the chapel of Sidi Bel Abbas, in the extreme north of the city, possesses property of great value, and serves as an almshouse and asylum. There is a special Jews' quarter walled off from the rest. The general population is of a very mixed and turbulent kind; crimes of violence are common, and there are many professional thieves. The murder of a Frenchman, Dr Mauchamp, in March 1907, by the rabble of Marrakesh was the immediate cause of the occupation of Udja by France (see MOROCCO: History). , Almost the only manufacture extensively prosecuted is that of Morocco leather, mainly red and yellow, about 1,500 men being employed as tanners and shoemakers. Scottish missionaries and a few European traders have become established here. The city was founded in 1062 by Yusef bin Tashfin. Before it was a hundred years old it is said to have had 700,000 inhabitants, but the population in 1906 probably did not exceed 50,000 to 6o,000. See Leo Africanus, and Paul Lambert's detailed description in Notice sur la Mlle de Maroc (Paris, 1868). Lambert's plan of Marrakesh is reproduced with some additions by Dr A. Leared, and another may be found in Gatell.
End of Article: MARRAKESH (erroneously MOROCCO or MAROCCO CITY)

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