Tourism & travel, About the city, Culture

5 things you didn’t know about Gueliz

Per: Camille CHATAIGNIER  

HISTORY We know Gueliz to be the modern and luxurious side of the city of Marrakesh, it is what provides the contrast we have all grown to love. We will share with you the story and history of its birth, how it has developed to become what it is now. These are the 5 things you didn’t know about Gueliz.

1. The origin of the name Gueliz

Located in the hills northwest of Marrakesh, the church St Anne was the first Christian church built in Gueliz. There have been rumors that the district was named after the Church ‘Eglise’ in French, however the locals claim that the district was named Gueliz way before the church was first built. The inspiration for the name seems to come from the Gueliz Mountain (Jebal Gueliz). During the French protectorate, those same mountains served as a vantage point for the French military forces.

2. The design and construction by the three men

Through the work and collaboration of these three great men, Henri Prost the main architect and designer for the Gueliz district layout, there was also Captain Landais, and both were under the command of the General Lyautey. The project started in 1913, to build a more modern Marrakesh, all while keeping the vantage point of the Gueliz Mountain, having wide roads and streets. After years of construction, the old Medina finally meets the new Modern Gueliz as the streets stretched for several kilometers.

3. The 16 November Square

The main idea was to create a more modern twin of Jemaa El Fna Square, nestled in the heart of Gueliz, there was the 16 November Square. However, it didn’t always have that same name; it was at its creation, named the 7 September Square, and a memory of when the Colonel Mangin first took over the control of Marrakech at that same date, the 7th September of 1912. After the independence of Morocco and the release of its king Mohamed V from exile. The square was renamed the 16 November Square, which was the date of the independence in 1956.

4. The color of the red city

The high walls of the medina were built using sand stone, red clay and other materials that gave the old medina that reddish symbolic color. When the French protectorate had control over the city, as they were developing Gueliz, there was a law for all buildings to not go over 3 floors in height, but also to keep the reddish color. Regardless of modernizing the city architecturally, they have kept its core and what made it unique.

5. The 870 residents of Gueliz

Back in the early 20th century, to be more precise, in the year 1919. As Gueliz is growing and embellishing, it only had 870 residents in total. More than 500 of them were of French origins. Different nationalities occupied the district: Spanish, Italians, Syrians, Greek, and of course Moroccan… There was also the passing families of the resident military officers that occupied the district.

Picture: RR