Featured Image Source: jeremy Seto, Under Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescastle/5975221860
The Gare de Marrakech is the main train station of the city of Marrakech. Marrakech is the fourth largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco. The city has a population just under a million people.
The first line to Marrakech was built by the French in 1920. The narrow gauge railway (600mm) went between Marrakech and Casablanca. The first standard gauge railway to Marrakech also went between Marrakech and Casablanca. The standard gauge railway (1435mm) was completed in 1936.
The current railway station was opened in 2008 to the current building. The station is a terminal station, meaning that all lines end here. There are two routes that depart from this station, one towards Fes and one towards Tangier. There are plans for a high-speed line between Tangier via Marrakesh and ending at Agadir. This is the main reason for the new railway station being built.
The old railway station still exists and is on the most southern platform though it is no longer in use as a station. The station was built in 1923.
The station sits on the Avenue Mohammed VI about two kilometres away from the old city. As one walks up to the station across the grand and beautifully tiled square one is greeted by the large glass arch that forms the main entrance to the building. The building is decorated in various Islamic geometric patterns. Around the arch stands a large rectangular building that is in an ancient Egyptian architectural style. This is further enforced by the two smaller yellow silt clay coloured buildings that jut out from the rest of the building’s facade. The colour scheme of the whole building can be separated into three colours. Namely brick red, yellow silt clay and glass (see-through).
One enters the building through this large glass archway into a large square with arcades on three sides. The floor is covered in coloured marble creating a flower-esque shape. The roof of the room is held up by 4 sculptured mushroom columns. These columns also create the pattern on the roof. In the centre of the roof, there is a large ornate golden speleothem like structure. The room is light and airy because of its ample space and natural light that falls in from all directions.
On the northern and southern side of this room, there are two large corridors with shops. These also from the two other entrances. The building is filled with various shops and cafes and rail-related areas like ticket booths.
The platforms are straight on from the main entrance. The station has three platforms with 5 tracks, though there is room for expansion. Inbetween the station building and the platform there is a large square with large cloth columns that form a shaded area to wait for the trains.
The building is unlike many conventional train stations in the world but is a great example of classical North African and Islamic architecture styles being used in a modern setting. The building looks both futuristic but still grounded in classical stylistic elements, like the geometric patterns used. The building is grand and imposing and is a memorable start or end to any train journey.
Sources: Wikipedia (History of rail transport in Morocco), Wikipedia (Marrakesh railway station), Wikipedia (Narrow-gauge railways in former French Morocco), Wikipedia (Rail transport in Morocco), Wikipedia (Ancient Egyptian architecture), Wikipedia (Speleothem), Britannica, Bramble Berry