Berber Jewish Men

Many visitors to Morocco are surprised to learn of the country’s cultural diversity. Although today a majority Arab Muslim country, Morocco has a significant Jewish past (and present) as well as indigenous Amazigh (also known as Berber) population who pre-date the Arab immigration.

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Fez Mellah Jewish Quarter Morocco

Historically, Morocco has strived to be a place of acceptance. Several different cultures and religions have inhabited its cities and towns throughout the centuries. Today, the majority of its population is Muslim but it is not hard to find a wide array of remnants of the country’s Jewish heritage throughout its many cities. Most Jews immigrated to Morocco in the 15th century following the Spanish Reconquista which pushed out the entire Jewish population from the Iberian Peninsula. They established themselves in mellahs (or Jewish Quarters), that were often found in a corner of the city fortified by Kasbah walls for protection. These mellahs became a city within a city for the Jews with their own synagogues, fountains, and markets lining narrow streets and alleyways.

Several Jewish Quarters still survive today with their synagogues and Jewish cemeteries and can easily be found within large cities such as Marrakech and Fez. But a trip off the beaten path can also be extremely rewarding. Towns such as Sefrou and Chefchaouen have beautifully preserved unique mellahs that can easily be explored from one of the main Moroccan cities. Continue reading…

Morocco Jewish Sights

Morocco was once home to the largest population of Jews in the Arab world, a figure topping 300,000 inhabitants. Today the number has largely diminished but many of the historical sites have remained intact and offer a glimpse into a part of Moroccan culture that is unique to the region. While the relationship between Muslim and Jewish residents has had ups and downs, the legacy and richness of Morocco’s Jewish population remains a national treasure. Continue reading…

ittle Girl with Camel Sahara

It’s barely turned to fall, but we can never have too much forward planning when it comes to spring break, the ultimate family vacation par excellence. I think Morocco is the perfect spring break destination. In no particular order, here are my top five reasons to take a family vacation to Morocco during spring break:

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Hand-drawn Portuguese cistern in El Jadida Morocco.

When you gaze at the coastal city of El Jadida from the sea, you may notice that this ancient port town doesn’t resemble other traditional Moorish settlements. Indeed, El Jadida’s architecture and urban design is unique in that it has been heavily influenced by the Portuguese who occupied it for over two centuries. This influence has produced a city that truly bears witness to a history of cultural exchange between the Moroccans and the Portuguese. Continue reading…