Four Historical Cities in Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is an exceptional country on the northern part of the Africa. With its geographic location and terrain there are a lot of things to see and visit. In addition to the natural landscape, there are man-made attractions such as buildings and architecture. Their culture influence is a mixture of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African and European.

LOCATION

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Morocco is located in the northwestern area of Africa. On the west is the Atlantic Ocean, on the north is the Strait of Gibraltar and Mediterranean Sea, on the east is Algeria, and on the south is the Western Sahara.

The country is composed of different land forms. From the northeast to the southwest of the country are the Atlas Mountains, and to the northwest to the northeast are the Rif Mountains. On the southwest of the country, one could see the Sahara Dessert. Furthermore, there are coastal areas on the west and northern section of the country.

PEOPLE

Majority of the Moroccan citizens are descendants of Arab, Berber, or Arab-Berber. A minority of the people are Haratin and Gnawa descendants. There are also Sub-Saharan African and European people.

Majority of the people believe in Islam. Other religions are Christianity and Judaism.

And the people speak Berber, Arabic, Darija or Moroccan Arabic, and French.

GETTING THERE

The best way to reach Morocco is by plane. There are many international flights from other countries that fly direct to the country. Some airlines that fly in and out of the country are Aer Lingus, Easyjet, Ryanair, Royal Air Maroc, Aigle Azur, and many more.

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Rabat-Sale Airport

Other ways to reach the country is by land (by road and railroad), and ferry. If by travelling by ferry, the most common route is from Spain, France, and Italy which would take around 35 minutes to 2 hours.
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On the left train Station at Morocco, on the right Nador Port

There are so many things to see and do at Morocco. There are numerous mausoleums, tombs, mosques, museums and palaces to see. Aside from this, there are various jovial festivals celebrated throughout the country. All of these could be seen in every city of the country.

Here we have cited the four historical cities that is a must to be seen.

FOUR HISTORICAL CITIES TO VISIT

Rabat

The capital and second largest city in Morocco is Rabat. In 2013, CNN awarded the city as the second Top Travel Destination. There are indeed a lot of reasons why tourists should visit the city. There are a lot of places to see and things to experience.

Here are a few of the places to see and experience:

• Mausoleum of Mohammed V

This is the resting place of the King Hassan II and his son, Prince Abdallah. The mausoleum is painted white with a green tiled roof.

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• Hassan Tower or Tour Hassan

This is actually a tower of an unfinished mosque. The tower was supposed to be the largest at a height of 86 meters; unfortunately construction was halted in 1199 following the death of the sultan. The tower reached a height of 44 meters.

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• Rabat Archeological Museum

The museum opened in 1932 and is the home to a wide array of archeological artifacts. Included in the collection are human remains, artifacts, and other objects that date back to the Paleolithic period.

• Kasbah of the Usayas

This is a fortress located near the Bou Regreg River. In 2012, the place was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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• Mawazine

In 2001 Mohammed VI started a joyous music festival. Since then, it became an annual tradition. It is a week-long celebration of culture and music. Aside from performances, there are also workshops for dancing and many more.

Casablanca

The largest city in the country is Casablanca located near the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from being an important city economically and demographically, it is an important tourist destination. Here are a few things to see.

• Hassan II Mosque

Another name for the mosque is Grande Mosque Hassan II or Casablanca Hajj. It is noted to be the largest mosque in the country and the 7th in the world. The tower has a height of 210 meters which is the tallest in the world. On top of the tower is a laser that points towards the direction of Mecca.

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• Morocco Mall

For tourists wishing to go shopping, they should not miss Morocco Mall. The mall opened in 2011 and it is the largest shopping mall in Africa with an area of 200,000 square meters. A stunning feature of the mall is the giant aquarium which is the home to a number of different fishes.

Marrakesh

Marrakesh is the third largest city in the country. It is one of the four imperial cities located at the foothills of Atlas Mountains. It was dubbed as “Red City” or “Ochre City” because buildings were constructed from red sandstone, giving a reddish hue on the buildings.

There are many reasons to visit the city. Listed here are a few things to see.

• Jamaa el Fnaa

Jamaa el Fanaa when translated means “the assembly of trespassers.” It is a place where in the past meets the present. Culture and tradition had blended with modernization. It was and continues to be the main square and market place in the city. In 1985, the place was included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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• El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace, when translated means The Incomparable Palace. Although, the palace had been destroyed and ruined, it is still remains a famous tourist attraction.

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• Bab Agnaou

During the 12th century the city is enclosed with high walls for protection. Interspaced in the walls are nineteen gates. One gate on the south is Bab Agnaou.

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• Menara gardens

In the midst of palaces, walls, and trade lies a relaxing garden, Menara Gardens. It was built under the reign of Abd al-Mu’min during the 12th century.

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• Koutoubia Mosque

The most famous and largest mosque in the city is Koutoubia Mosque. Parts of the mosque were inspired by Giralda in Seville and Hassan Tower in Rabat.
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• Marrakech Museum

For those seeking a cultural immersion, take a tour at Marrakech Museum. It was built during the 19th century inside the Dar Menebhi Palace. It was inspired by Andalusian architecture. In 1997, the building was declared a museum and dubbed “an orgy of stalactite stucco-work.” Visitors would be able to see Moroccan art, books, coins, and poetry.

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Fes

Fes was once the capital of Morocco. It was dubbed as “Mecca of the West” and “Athens of Africa.” With these nicknames, it is truly a place worth visiting.

There are two old towns in Fes: Fes el Bali and Al-Qarawiyin. Aside from these two there are other places of interest.

• Fes el Bali

Between the two towns, Fes el Bali was built earlier during the years 789 to 808 AD. It is famous for two things: having the oldest university (University of al-Qarawiyyin or al-Karaouine) and being a car-free urban area.

In 1981 Fes was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• Madrasa Bou Inania

In AD 1351 to 1356 Abu Inan Faris founded an educational institution and congregational mosque that followed the Marinid architecture.

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• University of al-Qarawiyin or al-Karaouine

The university was built in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. It is both an educational and spiritual center. And in 1963, the university became one of Morocco’s state universities. Lessons include Islam, Arabic grammar or linguistics, Maliki law, French, English and IT. Until present, the university is still open to students. With that it gained Guinness World Record and recognized by UNESCO as the oldest educational institution.

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Meknes

Meknes was once the capital of Morocco from 1672 to 1727. During these years different infrastructure and buildings were established. Here are a few of the famous buildings within the city.

• Dar El Makhzen – the official royal palace

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• Bab Mansour gate – The gate’s design was inspired by Almohad patterns, zellij modaics, and Roman ruins of Volubilis.

• Lahboul gardens

• Dar El Beida – it was once a palace, but now it is a Royal Military Academy

Kristine Capanzana

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