Exotic Morocco!

June 19, 2013  By: Gretchen

Kent in Morocco by Deborah SouccarHave you ever dreamed of visiting North Africa? Kent had a memorable visit to Morocco last year, and AAC clients the Doyle group just returned from a trip to this beautiful and engaging country. They’ve sent a few photos of their adventures for us to share, so you can experience a glimpse of Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech.Doyle 5

Imagine walking the grounds of the Mosque of Hassan II. Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, this mosque was started in 1980 and was intended to be completed in time to celebrate the 60th birthday of former Moroccan King, Hassan II, however it was not completed until 1993. It includes the world’s tallest minaret at 689 feet, and is the second largest religious building in the world with room for 250,000 worshipers. A total of $800 million was spent on its construction!

Doyle 3While in Morocco, you can also visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the breath-taking archaeological site of Volubilis. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volubilis gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ.

A visit to the city of Fes would include sightseeing at the King’s Palace, the Jewish Mellah and the Tomb of Solica. Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest continuously operating university in the world, Fes reached its height in the 13th–14th centuries under the Marinids, when it replaced Marrakech as the capital of the kingdom. The urban fabric and the principal monuments in the medina – madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques and fountains – date from this period. Although the political capital of Morocco was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fes has retained its status as the country’s cultural and spiritual center.Doyle 6

No visit to Morocco would be complete without a visit to Marrakech.  Marrakech is known as the “red city or Al Hamra.” It is located in south-western Morocco in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is the second largest city in Morocco, as well as its administrative center. The heart of Marrakech, Djemma El Fna Square, offers an exciting Moroccan travel experience with its souks, gardens, palaces, snake charmers, outdoor food stalls and fabulous shopping for Moroccan goods.

Doyle 1A full day in Marrakech might begin with a visit to the Majorelle Garden and the Museum of Islamic Art. Majorelle is a lush, garden estate filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. The nearby La Mammounia Hotel garden is where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the famous film, The Birds, and is en-route to the Koutouba Mosque and Gardens where the largest mosque in Marrakech is found. It is considered the ultimate structure of its kind. It is built in a traditional Almohad style and the tower is adorned with four copper globes.

A visit to El Bahia Palace is a must, a beautiful example of Eastern architecture from the 19th century that represents trends and standards of the wealthy who lived during that time. Built as a home for Ba Ahmed’s official concubines, there are 160 different rooms in the palace. Next, visit the 16th century Saadian Tombs, which date back to the late 1500s and discovered in 1917.Doyle 4

Our guide will help navigate through the labyrinth streets and alleys of Djemma El Fna Square. Enjoy the aromatic streets and venture into the souks specializing in Berber carpets, silver jewelry, artisan workshops and tanneries. Finally, a day in Marrakech wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Old Spice Market with its wide array of spices from cumin, cinnamon, saffron, dried peppers and more. An end to this perfect day would visit the contemporary

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Moroccan Art Museum, a private museum in Marrakech that is dedicated to popular arts and crafts.

Sound intriguing? It’s a completely different kind of safari! Call us if you’d like to spice up your next trip to Africa.

Photos courtesy Carol Doyle, except photo #1, Deborah Souccar

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