Casablanca is a modern city with a great tourist offer and one of the largest ports in the world. It also has the best nightlife in Morocco.
Tangier is a city that preserves the signs of prehistoric occupation. It has been under the domain of different countries and therefore has an interesting artistic and cultural heritage.
Marrakesh, the labyrinthine Red City is one of our favorite destinations to visit. Join us, and discover why it was declaring Heritage of the Humanity.
Marrakesh, whose name in Berber means “God’s Earth”, is also known as “The Red City” by the color of its buildings and constructions. Its mystery and captivation, apart of the places we’ll describe later, made it be declared like Heritage of the Humanity, (as Fez and Essaouira), on 1985.Its interior, the Medina, stands out by itself. Surrounded by a great red wall with several income, Marrakech’s medina is an extensive labyrinth of alleys, squares and suks. Its Main Jemaa el Fna Square, during the day, is replete with acrobats, musicians, snake enchanters and all kinds of marvels, turning at night into a great mall outdoors.
And talking about this square and Kutubía Mosque, we will underline a curious detail: his tower was born of the same architect who designed the Giralde of Seville.
What to See
Out of the Medina, Marrakech possesses a small botanical garden, where the exotism and the magic from Morocco grow up as vegetables. Also we can find in Marrakech the Medina Palm Grove or the Former Jewish Neighborhood.
One of the props of the life in Marrakesh, is the trade, a fact that turns out obvious when you walk along the streets. With a simple look, the first thing that stands out is the sale of all kinds of handmade articles, being the most interesting the carpets (handmade by the Berbers), the leather, the goldwork, trinkets and precious stones. But what many people cannot see, unless they are accompanied by an already veteran guide in the zone, is the part of the back-rooms. That’s where other one of Marrakesh’ captivations resides, because there it is possible to see every worker making the articles, tinting the wools, the turbans, working the metal and the goldsmiths, tanning the skins … definitively, finalizing even the most minimal detail, in order that the products that are seen in the shop windows have as much quality as possible. Here is the soul of Marrakesh: in his way of living, of working, of devoting its body and soul to his trade and his tourists. Definitively, the Red City is a totally worth place for visiting… but we recommend to do it in hands of a guide, since otherwise it is very easy to get lost in this labyrinth.
Casablanca is a city in the west of Morocco, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, although we, due to its proximity to Tanger and its distance to Aït Ben Haddou, our center of operations, include it in the northern destinations.
It is the largest city in Morocco, its main port, and the seat of most international and industrial facilities. It is the true cultural, economic and industrial center of the country. Its port is also one of the largest in the world.
We can say that Casablanca is an example of a cultural mix between the Arab world and the Western world. It is also the city with the best nightlife in Morocco.
In addition to its port, we can find monuments such as the Mosque of Hassan II, undoubtedly the main icon of Casablanca, with its minaret of 210 meters high, which was built to commemorate the 60th birthday of Hassan II. This mosque can be visited by hiring a guided tour. Next to the mosque we can find the beach of “La Corniche”, a good place to relax in the sun, enjoy its bars and restaurants or practice water activities.
Casablanca has also an old medina, but it is not comparable in charm or extension with the labyrinthine medinas of Marrakech or Fez, for example. If you do not have time to visit any of the latter, we recommend a walk so you can get an idea.
The Morocco Mall is a very interesting shopping center for shopping enthusiasts. It is located at the end of the beach of “La Corniche” and there you can also find leisure areas, gardens, restaurants and cafes.
Other options offered by Casablanca, is to visit the old Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Moroccan Jewish Museum, the only Jewish museum in the Arab world or the Arab League Park, Casablanca’s authentic green lung. We can also mention as interesting places Mohaned V Square, the Central Market or the neighborhood of the Royal Palace.
If you have enough days, we recommend you to visit this city on your trip to the south of the country.
Tanger is a city located in the north extreme of Morocco, in the Strait of Gibraltar. It therefore limits to the north and to the west with the Atlantic Ocean.
The name of Tingé comes from the Gregorian mythological tradition, and it was chosen in honor to the wife of the giant Antaeus. This transcended in the Berber mythology, according to which Tanger was built by a son of Tingis, wife of the Berber hero Antaeus, defeated and killed by Hercules. In fact, one of the tourist attractions of Tanger is the grotto of Hercules.
Tanger retains indications of prehistoric occupation, being later occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. Christianity was also particularly important during the third century BC.
Later, it fell under the Vandal, Byzantine and Arab dominion, belonging to the Kingdom of Taifas of Malaga, later belonging to the Emirate of Tanger. It also fell under the rule of Portugal and Spain, and Italian troops were also installed in the city during the nineteenth century. It was later a condominium known as the International Zone of Tanger, and was finally incorporated into the kingdom of Morocco in 1957.
Its walls are eminently defensive. They consist of thirteen access doors, seven defense batteries and some watchtowers.
In our visit to Tanger, we will go to the port area, from where we can also contemplate the new Mosque of the port and the famous Hotel Continental.
The Medina of Tanger retains the charm of the Arab Medinas and some areas of walls built by the Portuguese. In the upper area of the Medina, surrounded by walls and over the bay and the port, we can find the famous Kasbah.
It is worth mentioning the Grand Zoco, a former rural market and currently the neuralgic center of the city, as well as the Small Zoco. Inside the Medina, it is worth visiting the bazaars area of Francis, Siaguin and Al Mouahidin streets.
We also consider interesting the Beni Idder neighborhood, located to the south of the Medina.
Outside the Medina, we can visit the Lighthouse Square, the Arab League Square, the street by the sea, and the tourism and sports port, which is located to the west of the seafront, Tanga Marina Bay. We have to distinguish the port of Tanger Ville, for high-speed ferries from Tarifa and tourist cruises from the fishing port, and the Port of Tanger Med, which is located at about 76 kms distance from it, and which is a modern port and the main terminal for merchandise and passengers.
Chauen, Chefchauen or Chefchaouen is known as the Blue Pearl of Morocco. It is located in the northwest of the country, near Tetouan and Tanger, in the mountains of the Rif. It is built in a valley and it has around 40.000 inhabitants.
Like Fez, its original population is formed by immigrants from al-Andalus, both Muslim and Jewish, so it has a certain similarity with some Andalusian towns such as Frigiliana or Mojacar, with narrow, irregular streets and whitewashed houses with blue tones. Many of its inhabitants speak Spanish, since it was also one of the main bases of the Spanish army.
The oldest part of Chefchaouen is located in the highest part of the mountain and the new part of it has been built further down, next to the old city.
We may enjoy a tour through its Medina, across the arch-shaped gate, and we will continue by the main Street, which crosses the city from east to west.We can walk along its streets, making some stops to buy in its small shops full of all kinds of Moroccan handicrafts, and we can visit the square of Uta al-Hammam. This square is the center of the Medina, it is always very busy because it’s full of cafes and restaurants, and here may also delight your eyes with the Grand Mosque of the 15th Century. Near the square, we can also find one of the oldest Fondouks in Morocco. The Fondouks are buildings in which the merchants who brought their products to sell in the markets, could stay together with their animals (dromedraries, etc). The Fondouk Chfichou, is a building of the Sixteenth or Seventeenth century, in which we can access through a large gate, a central courtyard, two side rooms and about 50 rooms that work as workshops and warehouses. Also on the upper floor, we can find the bedbrooms.
It is very important that the authorities take care of this Fondouk, since it is in danger of disappearing.
We continue in our walk climbing to the waterfall and the washing rooms. It is usual to find local people washing the carpets or cooling off in the pools, which are formed when the water is going down.
You can be climbed to its highest point where the Springs of Ras al-Ma are located.
Fez is the capital of Islam in Morocco. Located in a region previously called Hispania Nova. It has a population close to two million inhabitants. The city was founded by Idrís, in 789 on one of the shores of the Fez River. Later, it received the emigrant Arab population from Andalusia, who settled in two areas or neighborhoods of the city, which definitely gave him his Arab essence: Adwat al-Qarawiyyin and Adwat al-Andalus. It is one of the four imperial cities, along with Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat. In Morocco it is considered as the religious and cultural center of the country.
In the city we can find three different zones. As in Marrakech, the old area is within the walls. Apart from the old city there is Fez el Jdid or the new zone, where we can find the Mellah or Jewish quarter and the Ville Nouvelle, founded by the French.
We have two Medinas, being the medina of Fez el-Bali the largest in the city. The Medina of Fez is its main attraction, and it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1981. In it, we can find its two most important streets; Alaa Sghira and Talaa Kebira, which cross the Medina from east to west.
We will start the tour in Bab Boujloud or the blue door, which is the main access door and the most beautiful one and we will enter the labyrinth of shops, souks and restaurants to discover all the magic of this Medina. We will find the typical fondouks or merchants’ patios, in which the sale was allowed and in which the merchants who visited the city were given lodging. We will discover Plaza Najjarine, which has one of the most ornated fountains in the city.
In Fez, we have the possibility to visit, in addition to the Medina and its neighborhoods, the Bou Inania Madrasa which, dating back to the 14th century, was founded by the Merinides dynasty and which functioned both as a school and as a mosque, since it is the only one of the city in having minaret. There is also the Al-Attarine Madrasa, the Bab Boujoloud monument or the Dar Batha craft museum.
We will also find the Zaouia de Moulay Idriss II, whose green roof can be distinguished from the viewpoints of Fez. The problem with these monuments is that access to non-Muslims is not allowed.
Undoubtedly, contemplating the city from these viewpoints at sunset is a spectacle not to be missed.
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