From April 13-20, 2013, Fez, Morocco, will host the Fez Sufi Festival, which celebrates the heritage of Sufism in the city and all of Morocco.
What is Sufism?
Sufism is a form of Islamic spirituality. It is sometimes referred to as Islamic mysticism. Adherents belong to different “orders” and are led by Sufi masters. Believers feel they are practicing the true and pure form of Islam as was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. There are three guiding principles that Sufi’s follow: tolerance, peace and pacifism.
Morocco has long been home to Sufism and many leading scholars and Sufi masters have studied and trained in the country. Some of the most well-known Sufis include Rumi, al-Ghazali and Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. [read more…]
Does your ideal vacation prioritize art galleries and architecture over adventure? Would you rather sip cocktails than scale sand dunes? Does your travel itinerary look better with art deco-style buildings, museums and discos? Then Morocco is calling you.
Travelers have long ignored Casablanca in favor of more exotic locales, but what the city lacks in Islamic monuments and labyrinthine souks, it makes up for in its dizzying nightlife, a burgeoning art scene and a hodgepodge of architectural styles. Casablanca’s inhabitants, known as Casablancais, are known for being more Western in their attitudes. You can find men and women together in restaurants and bars dressed up in the latest global trends.
In the 1930s, art deco style was all the rage in Paris and New York, famously represented by the Paris Métro and New York’s Chrysler Building. The style caught on in Casablanca, and you can see some of the many art deco buildings in the Place Mohammed V and Place 16 Novembre. Galleries abound, featuring both Moroccan and international artists, including Le Studio des Arts Vivants, Galerie Atelier 21 and Loft Gallery, along with Amber Gallery, located in the high-end suburb of Mohammedia. The non-profit group Casamémoire runs a variety of projects including an exhibition space housed in an abandoned slaughterhouse on the edge of town. [read more…]
With its lively markets and landscapes straight out of motion pictures, Morocco is a magical place in children’s eyes. The compact size of the country and friendly people make traveling with kids enjoyable and rewarding. Though children might tire of typical adult pursuits in Morocco—watching Mom and Dad haggle over carpet prices can’t be too exciting—the fascinating sights and sounds of everyday life makes wanderings both educational and entertaining. Like other countries in the region, Morocco is a very child-friendly culture, and you will likely find hotel and restaurant staff doting on yours.
Consider limiting the scope of travel to one region of the country to avoid long car trips; those endless landscapes that look romantic to adults could seem just, well, endless, to kids in the back seat. The bustle of imperial cities like Marrakech and Fez is anything but boring, and all children will likely find the dunes and camels of the Sahara fascinating. And the easy lifestyle of beach towns on the Atlantic helps families combine downtime in the sun with exposure to a new culture. Destinations particularly popular with families are Essaouira, Agadir, Marrakech and the stretches of the Great Oasis Valleys or High Atlas Mountains that let kids run around in the great outdoors. Older children and teenagers can participate in easy treks and even camping under the stars in the desert. [read more…]
Mount Zalagh looms high over Fez, looking down on the crowded city and its narrow, winding alleys. A world away from the hustle and bustle of one of the most densely populated areas in Morocco, Mount Zalagh, covered with olive groves and scented by wild lavender, offers a view of the entire city and the surrounding landscapes—the Sebou Valley, Rif Mountains and Sais Plain. In the winter, expect snow, but in the summer, the elevation provides the ideal temperature for an escape from the heat and the perfect spot for a picnic. Despite its proximity to the city, it is never crowded, much to the delight of mountain bikers and hikers alike.
Reaching Zalagh’s summit is easy enough for even inexperienced hikers and takes no more than an hour or two, even at a leisurely pace. To reach the mountain, take a grand taxi (taxi kabir in Arabic) from the Bab Guissa, a 12th-century city gate located in the north of the medina. You can usually count on finding a taxi queue in front of the Sofitel Palais Jamaï nearby. Ask the driver to take you to the base of the Mount Zalagh or, in Arabic, Jbel Zalagh (JE-bal ZA-lagh), along Ouezzane Road, which is to the left after leaving the Palais Jamaï and leads to the southern base of the mountain. You reach a small pine forest, from which you can find the trailhead. As always when taking a grand taxi, agree on a price beforehand. The trip should normally cost no more than 7 or 8 Dh, so make sure to bargain. [read more…]
Vegetarians visiting Morocco can look forward to flavorful dishes that delight the taste buds. Although each region is known for its unique flavors, meals throughout the country commonly feature spices such as cumin, cinnamon, saffron and paprika. Morocco imports very little food, so its Mediterranean spread of fruits and vegetables tends to be locally grown and fresh.
Maintaining a vegetarian diet at breakfast requires little effort. A typical breakfast at a Moroccan riad or hostel consists of pita bread, a spread such as jam or honey, and fresh fruit. Some restaurants also offer French pastries, omelets and Moroccan pancakes.
Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day (except during Ramadan), typically taking place from noon to 3:00 p.m. or so, followed by a nap. Many restaurants start this mid-day meal by serving a salad, which includes an array of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, green peppers, beets, garlic and eggplant, as well as spices and herbs. You can look forward to Moroccan flatbread as part of the first course, too. [read more…]