Morocco is a melting pot of Berber, Arabian and European cultures. This is the place where Africa and the Middle East meet. Morocco’s diverse landscape ranges from the Saharan dunes to High Atlas peaks. The country is all about sipping mint tea, eating exotic Morrocan dishes, exploring its rich history and Islamic monuments, and visiting a Hammam for a traditional bath.
Capital Rabat is more of a political place than a tourist destination. The city’s kasbah and medina along with a fine beach are the only places where most of the visitors spend their time. Marrakesh, on the other hand, is the most vibrant and tourist-favourite city in Morocco. With its lively souqs and medieval quarter, the city is Morocco’s beating heart. Marrakesh is dotted with Islamic architecture – Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, Saadien’s Tombs, and the Koutoubia minaret are the perfect illustrations of it. Some of its other architectural gems include Bahia Palace, El Badii Palace, and Lazama Synagogue. The two and a half acre botanical garden of Jardin Majorelle is another site to check out.
Morocco’s significant history, however, doesn’t end with Marrakesh. Cities like Fez (also known as Fes), Casablanca, Essaouira and Chefchaouen boast plenty of historical importance. Fez, located in the middle atlas region, is known for its medieval remains. In its heyday, it was the grandest of all four imperial cities of Morocco. Today Fez is the cultural hub of the country and its focal points are the historic medina, vibrant souqs and several Islamic monuments. Located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, the characteristics of Casablanca are quite different from Fez. This port city houses a blending of Moorish, French-colonial and European art deco architecture. However, the city’s claim to fame is 1993 built Africa’s largest mosque – Hassan II. Chefchaouen – a city of blue-washed buildings is Morocco’s another prime highlight. Just like other Moroccan cities, the kasbah and medina are the main attractions of Chefchaouen. Most people visit this beautiful town either seeking relaxation or to explore its verdant hills. Another Altlantic coast city, Essaouira is known for its world-class windsurfing. This historic port city is also a melting pot of cultures and traditions.
The namesake valley created by the Draa river is home to several towns and villages. The mudbrick fortified village of Tamnougalt and the desert outpost of Zagora are two notable villages in the valley. The vast sea of sands at Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s prime attractions. These shape-shifting and scenic dunes are best explored using a 4×4 or a traditional camel safari.
Morocco is hands down one of Africa’s best places to get close to the Arabian society and learn about Islamic traditions. Having said that, the rich history and amazing desert landscapes also invite travellers to this beautiful country.
Morocco is where Africa and the Middle East meet.