Jemaa el-Fnaa (Arabic: ساحة جامع الفناء saaHat jamaaʻ al-fanâʼ, also Jemaa el-Fna, Djema el-Fna or Djemaa el-Fnaa) is a square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina quarter (old city). It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists.
The origin of its name is unclear: jamaa means “congregation” in Arabic, probably referring to a destroyed Almoravid mosque. Fnaʼ or finâʼ can mean “death” or “a courtyard, space in front of a building”. “finâʼ in Arabic commonly means “open area”; a straight translation would be “the gathering/congregation area”. Other meanings could be “The assembly of death,” or “The Mosque at the End of the World”. Another explanation is that it refers to a mosque with a distinctive courtyard or square in front of it. A third translation is “assembly of the dead”, referring to public executions on the plaza around 1050 AD
Marrakesh was founded by the Almoravid Dynasty 1070-1072. After a destructive struggle, it fell to the Almohads in 1147.
- with the fortunes of the city,
- Jamaa el Fna saw periods of decline and also renewal,
As the day progresses, the entertainment on offer changes: the snake charmers depart, and late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines.
As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls as the number of people on the square peaks.