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Travel & Holiday Tips in Morocco
 
 
 

Rabat

Rabat, the present capital of Morocco, was founded in the 12th century. It is a town of trees and flowers, and many monumental gateways, including the Gate of the Ambassadors and the Oudaias Kasbah Gate. There is a good selection of hotels and numerous pavement cafes. The nearby Mamora forest and the many beaches are popular tourist attractions, particularly during the summer.

Other attractions include Tour Hassan, the grandiose minaret of a vast, uncompleted 12th-century mosque; the Mohammed V Mausoleum, an outstanding example of traditional Moroccan architecture; the Royal Palace; the Chellah, with superb monuments, delightful gardens and Roman ruins; the Oudaias; the Archaeological Museum; the National Museum of Handicrafts and the antique Moorish cafe. The battlements surrounding the old town, and part of the new city, date from the mid-12th century. Also worth a visit is Salé, Rabat’s twin city, at the opposite side of the river, believed to have been founded in the 11th century.

Meknes

Meknes is protected by 25 km (16 miles) of battlements, flanked by towers and bastions. The city reflects the power and the constructive genius of King Moulay Ismail, a contemporary of Louis XIV, who ruled the country for 55 years. The Michlifen and Djebel Habri are two ski resorts above Meknes. The city boasts a wonderful souk (market) and the old town is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

About 30 km (19 miles) from Meknes, the Roman ruins at Volubilis are also on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Excavations and ruins dating back to the third century can be visited for a small admission fee and there is also an interesting archaeological museum.

Fès

Fès is the most ancient and impressive of the imperial cities. Built in the 8th century, it has more history and mystery than anywhere else in Morocco. Officially encompassing two cities – El Bali and Jadid – Fès is famous for the Nejjarine Square and Fountain, the Er Rsif and Andalous (Al-Andalus) mosques, the Royal Palace, the Kasbah and Karaouine (Al-Qarawiyin) University, which is older than Oxford University. The Dar Bath Museum is also worth a visit. The old part of the city – Fès El Bali – still retains the magical, bustling atmosphere of an ancient time and it is centred around the two famous mosques of Al-Qarawiyin and Al-Andalus. It is a huge maze of winding streets and covered bazaars where, if one is not careful, it is easy to get lost (it is therefore a good idea to hire an official guide). There are magnificent examples of Hispano-Arabic architecture as well as numerous opportunities to see traditional craftspeople at work. The medina (market) in Fès El Bali is one of the largest in the world and is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Here, one can buy almost anything. It is particularly good for carpets, rugs and ornate metalwork. As in all of Morocco, the market business is conducted in a leisurely, although deadly earnest way, with the accompaniment of endless glasses of sweet mint tea. Fès is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating cities anywhere in the Middle East or north Africa.

The valley of Ouergha to the north is famed for its souks and Morocco’s most celebrated gathering of riders, which is said to have been attended by Pope Sylvester II prior to his accession in AD 999 and resulted in him introducing Arab mathematics to Europe. Other attractions are the Karaouine (Al-Qarawiyin) Mosque and Mesbahai Medersa, an old school, remarkable for its traditional architecture and late afternoon auctions in the Kissaria, the shopping area.


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