Located beneath the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in the heart of the Medina, Jemaa el-Fna has served as Marrakech’s main market square since its foundation in the 11th century. Around 1050 AD the plaza was the site of public executions, hence its name Jemaa el-Fna, which means “assembly of the dead.” Today the market bridges the old and new sections of Marrakech, and it continues to serve the community as a vibrant hub for trade, social life, and cultural expression. Like the city itself, Jemaa el-Fna has gone through extended periods of decline and revitalization throughout its long history. During portions of the 20th century the square was also used as a transport station, but since 2000 it has been closed entirely to automobile traffic. A lively source of entertainment for the local community as well as travelers, the marketplace functions as both a traditional market and an open-air stage for various musical, religious, and theatrical performances.