5 Incredible and Famous Moroccan Women You Must Know!

5 Incredible and Famous Moroccan Women You Must Know!

When you imagine the people of Morocco, you maybe first imagine the sultans and viziers, the pashas, as the blue-turbaned men gracefully leading their train of camels through the vast sandy ergs of the Sahara. These are the men of Morocco, sure, but what of the women? Where are the heroines, the famous Moroccan women of Morocco? 

In truth, after just a little digging, it is easy to find so many amazing, talented, and rightfully famous Moroccan women throughout history who have achieved incredible things. It was really hard to choose just a few Moroccan heroines for this article! Below, you’ll read about some of the incredible women of Morocco and their wonderful achievements… but do not think that this list is exhaustive! There are sooooo many more! (more…)

Listen to This! Moroccan Music You Can Download

Moroccan music, Gnawa, Chabbi, Morocco music, Morocco traditional music, Moroccan traditional music, Moroccan popular music, best Moroccan music, Top moroccan music

For nearly every traveller to Morocco, one of the biggest highlights is listening to live Moroccan music. From the performers jamming in Marrakesh’s famous square, Jemma el-Fnaa every night, to the Gnawa beats pulsing in the desert… one thing is for certain, Moroccan music will set beat to your time in Morocco. But what if you’re stuck at home or on a plane? What is the best Moroccan music you can download? (more…)

Where to Visit the Ancient Jewish Sites of Morocco

Where to Visit the Ancient Jewish Sites of Morocco

Morocco was once home to the largest population of Jews in the Arab world, a figure topping 300,000 inhabitants. These people left behind a vast history visible through the ancient Jewish sites of Morocco. 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. (more…)

Megdaz, Morocco: Hidden in the Mountains

Megdaz, MoroccoMegdaz is a village in the Atlas Mountains known for its high-altitude setting and distinct architecture of Morocco. The High Atlas (as they are also known) are the highest mountain range in North Africa, often called “the roof of Morocco.” They form a natural barrier approximately 750 kilometers (466 miles) long that separates Saharan Morocco from the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. Located high in the Tessaout Valley, Megdaz lies almost 2000 meters (6500 feet) above sea level. Hiking enthusiasts rave over the lush environment watered by the Tessaout River and fertilized by the river´s mud and silt.

Apart from the scenic natural beauty of the village, visitors might be most interested in the reddish earthen fortified structures built as family homes, barns and defensive forts, referred to as a greniers collectifs in French, or ighrem (ih-RHEM) or agadir (ah-gah-DEER) in Berber. The structures look impossibly tall and strike an impressive silhouette. The architecture features multiple floors and large flat roofs, which are used for drying grain in the fall and for sleeping outdoors during hot summer nights. Thick earthen walls insulate the homes from both the scorching sun in the summer and from the bitter cold in the wintertime, when snow often cuts the village off from the rest of the mountain towns. (more…)

The Fint Oasis, Morocco

morocco donkeyIf the Moroccan town of Ouarzazate is the “Door of the Desert,” then the Fint Oasis, located 10 kilometers south, might well be the desert’s garden.

It is nearly impossible to imagine, departing from Ouarzazate and traversing the dry, desolate terrain of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, that any place so green, lush and full of life can be on the horizon. But suddenly you spot it: a massive, verdant palm grove, teeming with plant, animal and village life.

Composed of four traditional villages which blend Sub-Saharan, Moroccan and Berber culture, the Fint Oasis is a laid-back place where donkeys and other beasts of burden still roam the streets and women still wash clothes in the river. Though largely unknown outside of Morocco, the Fint Oasis has served as the setting for a number of Hollywood films, including Babel, Prince of Persia and Kingdom of Heaven. (more…)

Book Review: Berber Odes

Book cover Berber Odes by Michael PeyronPart of Eland’s Poetry of Place collection, Berber Odes is a compilation of poetry in translation edited by Michael Peyron, visiting professor at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.

From my year spent studying abroad at Al Akhwayn in 2003-2004, I still have vivid memories of professor Peyron’s 8:00 a.m. course, History and Culture of the Berbers. Since no textbooks were available, we used a heavy, photocopied reader that he’d compiled over the years. It was full of academic essays, poetry, proverbs, snippets on Berber dialects, black and white photos and historical accounts.

During class, Peyron would often deviate from the day’s lecture to give a quick pronunciation lesson, share the tale of a Berber saint or expound on a proverb. His excitement made clear that he loved learning about the Berber people and sharing their culture with others. (more…)

Traditional Tribes of Morocco

Spend any amount of time in Morocco, and you’re bound to trip across one of the most defining characteristics of the country, the Berbers. As the original inhabitants of Morocco, they are rightly proud of the contributions they’ve made in shaping the country. With a unique language and culture, the Berbers stand out as one of last bastions of tradition in an ever-modernizing world.

(more…)

So Much Moroccan Culture

Morocco is comprised of a melting pot of different cultural backgrounds. The most popular cultural background is Arab-Berber descent. Many of the modern Berber tribes reside deep in the mountain and desert regions that make up the outskirts of Morocco. These are the friendliest people a visitor could hope to come across in these regions.

For many years, Islam has been the dominant religion in Morocco. As modern times approached, this began to change. Mixed in among this are an estimated 100,000 Christians of French descent and 8,000 Jews. The Jewish community resides primarily in Casablanca and Marrakech. (more…)

Sijilmassa: Berber Dynasty

Once the kingdom of the south of Morocco in its own right, Sijilmassa, known as the “Mesopotamia of Morocco” located near Risssani in the south, is a kingdom of lore in the oral history of the area’s Berber populations. The village was once a major stopping point on the Trans-Saharan trade route and the region even formed its own monetary system. Coins from the area have been located as far as Jordan and other countries in West Africa.

Sijilmassa was founded by the ever-rebellious Moroccan Berbers living in the southern region that wanted to form their own form of Islam, as they didn’t agree with the more orthodox practices of the more northern regions of Morocco. The area was quite wealthy mostly due to the very fertile Ziz River and the Rheris River that were slightly diverted to run through the area. The fertile region coupled with its importance as a stopping point along the Salt Road trail to West Africa meant that its power and importance grew rapidly, which is one cause that the city later became divided and why civil unrest and an eventual civil war led to its downfall.

Some recent scholars who have studied the area, namely one Dr. Ron Messier, are interested in the actual importance of the region. Some historians believe that Sijilmassa in Morocco was never really one, united ksour, but more a conglomeration of several ksours that simply lived along the river. The city would have been about 8 miles (about 15 KM) long from one point to the other. The gate to the city is located just past the Oued Ziz (Ziz River) on the north side of the city, known as Porte Errih, or Bab Errih.

The area is the home to the Alaouite Dynasty, who thought Sijilmassa as a shrine to their ancestry. Made into the capital of the Tifilalt region, the town’s main ksar hasn’t been restored to its grandeur, but the route is still visited by tourists doing the route touristique. Recently, the Moroccan Institute of Archeology and a State University in Tennessee in the US have funded a joint venture to uncover more relics from Sijilmassa’s past.

Berber Culture on the Rise in Morocco

With the solidarity and popularity of the Berber culture within the last decade, a Berber TV channel is Morocco’s next media project.

Over the last few years, the popularity of Berber culture has been on the rise. From Berber-language news and movies on the local RTM televesion station to the introduction of Beber-language classses, and most recently the Berber alphabet, in school curricula Morocco has done a great deal in raising national awareness of the country’s first inhabitants’ language and culture. (more…)