Have you dreamed of exploring Morocco? As Africa’s closest contact point to Europe, Morocco has become an amazing blend of cultures and religions. It is a country known for its warm hospitality and fascinating mix of history, art, food, music, and architecture. Not only is Morocco filled with enchanting labyrinths of bazaars, souks in old medinas, incredible historical monuments, and friendly people, but also abounds with natural wonders such as the stunning snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the warm and windy Atlantic coastline, and the seemingly endless Sahara Desert.
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!
While 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.
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, Djemaa 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.
A 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 Koutoubia 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 the 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.
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 Moroccan Art Museum, a private museum in Marrakech that is dedicated to popular arts and crafts.
Photos courtesy Zakariae Daoui, Jans-Jurgen Weinhardt, Ceetje, Hamza Demnati, Max Brown, Zakaria Zayane, Alex Plesovskich and Rudy and Peter Skitterians