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Marrakech, Snake charmers, magic potions and hidden palaces: Marrakech brings the most outlandish travellers' tales to life. The pink city has waylaid desert caravans since the 11th century, as visitors succumb to the charms of its bluesy Gnaoua trance music, steamy hammams and multi-course feasts.

Visitors to Marrakech often disappear down a maze of winding alleys and emerge days later, relaxed and refreshed from their stays in spectacular riads (courtyard guesthouses).

Adventure awaits in the medina (old city), with its fondouks (artisans' workshops), seven zaouias (saints' shrines) and stalls ladling up steaming bowls of snails and sheep's head soup.

The focal point of Marrakech is its celebrated square, the Jemaa el Fna. Towering over the scene is the stately Koutoubia minaret, a template for Hispano-Mauresque architecture and a reminder of the importance of Islam to the lives of the city's residents.

Always a byword for the exotic, the city that lured hedonists and idealists in the 20th century now attracts fashionistas and trendy couples in search of the souks, spices, spas, chic bars and clubs and riad life.