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Marakesh Mellah

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Marakesh Mellah

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Basic Information

Location Mellah Marrakesh, Morocco
Country Morocco
City Maraksh

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.morocco.com/blog/the-mellah-of-marrakech
Geographical Coordinates 31.62013,-7.98313


Summary

A mellah (Arabic ملاح, probably from the word ملح, Arabic for "salt" or מלח, Hebrew for "salt" (both pronounced "melach") is a walled Jewish quarter of a city in Morocco, analogous to the European ghetto. Jewish population were confined to mellahs in Morocco beginning from the 15th century and especially since the early 19th century. It first was seen as a privilege and a protection against the Arabs' attacks in the region, but with the growing of the population, it then became a poor and miserable place. With the colonization and the arrival of the Europeans at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Mellah opened and gave new economical and social possibilities to the Moroccan Jews.

In cities, a mellah was surrounded by a wall with a fortified gateway. Usually, the Jewish quarter was situated near the royal palace or the residence of the governor, in order to protect its inhabitants from recurring riots since its inhabitants played a vital role in the local economy. In contrast, rural mellahs were separate villages inhabited solely by the Jews.

General

In 1791, a European traveller described the Marrakesh mellah: "It has two large gates, which are regularly shut every evening about nine o'clock, after which time no person whatever is permitted to enter or go out... till... the following morning. The Jews have a market of their own...".


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