UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco

Morocco is home to an impressive 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! These sites are dotted throughout the country, from expected places like Marrakesh and Fez, to Tetouan, a relatively untouristed northern city, and on to the desert lands of the Sahara. If you are a lover of history and culture, it makes a lot of sense to use these sites as pillars or totems for your own tour of Morocco.

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UNESCO World Heritage Series: Volubilis

UNESCO World Heritage Series: Volubilis

There are many good reasons for the inquisitive traveler to visit Morocco. The High Atlas Mountains and their hiking trails. The old cities of Fez and Marrakesh with the largest traditional markets in all of Africa. And of course the impressive Roman ruins dotted throughout the country. Yes, you read that right. Roman ruins! In Morocco! The Roman ruins of Volubilis, Morocco, the finest of all the Roman ruins to be found in the country, are at once important for their Roman connections to the region, but for so many more reasons than that. (more…)

The Sultan Moulay Ismail: Morocco’s Much-Feared, Long-Lived Ruler

The Sultan Moulay Ismail: Morocco’s Much-Feared, Long-Lived Ruler

The long history of Morocco is filled with characters that seem to leap off the page. Perhaps none more so than the Sultan Moulay Ismail. At once feared and respected, villainized and lionized, this Moroccan sultan literally stood head and shoulders above other world leaders. His tall, lithe figure cut bright through his palaces—particularly on beheading days when his flowing saffron-yellow robes reflected the high noon sun of the Middle Atlas, framing his dark features. The sultan’s wrath, his justice, inevitable, like the fire-rimmed eclipse of the moon gliding over the sun. (more…)

What is the Impact of Big Bus Tourism in Morocco?

negative impacts of mass tourism in Morocco, why riding tour busses is bad

In the 13th century, Morocco’s own Ibn Battuta, in explorer and intrepid traveler, was the first known traveler to connect distant the northwest corner of Africa to the far East. It’s taken nearly eight centuries, but the connection these days between Beijing and Rabat is strong. With stronger political ties, many are following the route of Morocco’s most famed exploring, making the journey from China to Morocco. And make no mistake about it, in just a few short years, this recent influx of Chinese travelers to Morocco has altered the landscape of some of the most popular destinations around the country, largely because of the number of travelers from China choosing big bus tourism over smaller, more independent and sustainable travel. (more…)

JBT’s Ultimate Guide to the Quranic Schools of Morocco

JBT’s Ultimate Guide to the Quranic Schools of Morocco

The long, storied history of learning and scholarship in Morocco is often surprising to first time visitors, and even to some longtime inhabitants. In fact, Morocco boasts the world’s oldest university – the University of al-Qarawiyyin (also written as: Al Quaraouiyine or Al-Karaouine). Recognized by UNESCO and the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest university, al-Qarawiyyin was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant family who immigrated to Morocco from modern-day Tunisia. (more…)

Top Ten Things to Do in Morocco

morocco tanneryMorocco is a country with a variety of sites to visit, whether you’re into history, adventure or relaxation. Unfortunately, those with limited time must find a way to focus their trip in order to hit the hot spots. Hundreds of books claim to supply a core list of “top ten sites.” However, among these endless lists, there are ten truly, undeniable activities that would make a Morocco holiday complete. Each of these activities is so quintessentially Moroccan that, by experiencing all of them, you are guaranteed to have a completely authentic Moroccan experience.

1. Wander in Marrakesh’s Djemma El Fna

Marrakesh’s Djemma El Fna square is Morocco’s centerpiece. Within this square in Marrakesh, there are exotic performers, Moroccan chefs cooking in open air food stands, small shops welcoming you into the Marrakesh Medina, distinctly Moroccan cafes and high-end Moroccan restaurants. Djemma El Fna square is a crowded meeting place in Marrakesh that encapsulates fine Moroccan foods, crafts and culture. Surely, any trip to Morocco should include a stop at the square, which is also conveniently located near many historic mosques and palaces. (more…)

Top Attractions in Meknes, Morocco

arches in Meknes MoroccoOften overlooked by tourists, Meknes, Morocco, is a culturally rich city with a modern twist—the best of both worlds. Here you can visit ancient palaces and tombs, and afterward head to a downtown cafe for an ice cream cone or milkshake.

Meknes, one of Morocco’s imperial cities, founded in the 11th century by Moulay Ismail, will give you a genuine sense of Morocco’s past. Home to multiple historical and cultural attractions, Meknes is surprisingly modern at the same time.

Located about 130 km inland, this northern city has a seasonal climate. But beware, one thing is the same year-round—the nights are cold. Daytime temperatures rise from anywhere between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. So don’t let the summer months fool you. You’ll need a jacket even in August.

While touring the city, don’t miss Place el-Hedim. Built by Moulay Ismail for public executions and royal announcements, this structure is now the heart of the Medina. It’s the perfect place to kick your feet up and people watch. Visit one of the cafes within the square, where you can order some mint tea and listen to local musicians playing for tips. (more…)

Day Trips from Fes

ruins at volubilis moroccoFez (also known as Fes) will charm you with its culture tucked into every tightly woven street corner, but it can be nice to escape—even when you’re enjoying this fascinating old city. If you’re aching to break through the city walls for a day, we’ve got you covered.

Some of the most popular day trips from Fes include Meknes and nearby Volubilis, as well as the capital of Morocco, Rabat. It’s time to plan your Morocco itinerary … you’ve got lots of places to explore! (more…)

Day Trips from Meknes

Moulay Idriss from aboveWith its roots as one of Morocco’s imperial cities, Meknes has plenty of history and architectural treasures to attract travelers. It was once the shining capital during the dynasties of Berber and Arabic families, but though it has faded into the background a bit, Meknes continues to attract international visitors. Located close to Fez, one of Morocco’s more populous cities, it is also a very popular jump off point for those who want to see other sites in the region.

Meknes itself is made for explorations with sites like the Dal El Makhazen palace, the Tomb of Moulay Ismail (the sultan who once ruled Meknes as a capital city) and plenty of souks that provide colorful shopping experiences for locals and visitors alike. However, destinations beyond the immediate walls of the city also have much to offer, and those who want to explore Morocco’s wine country or get a glimpse of the age old techniques used to produce premium olive oil will be in for a treat. (more…)

Introduction to Meknes, Morocco

Meknes MoroccoMorocco’s Imperial Cities are the old capitals of historic empires and include Meknes, Fez, Marrakesh and the current capital, Rabat. The smallest and most relaxed of these is Meknes. Known for its grand architecture, medieval walls and beautiful gates, visitors will find much to be enchanted by in Meknes.

Founded in the early 11th century as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital under the rule of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl in the 17th century. The sultan turned Meknes into an impressive city with the creation of vast gardens, numerous edifices, mosques and monuments as well as 40 kilometers of thick walls and monumental gates lining the city.

The 18th century marked an end to Meknes’s glory days with the death of Sultan Ismaïl and an earthquake in 1755 that destroyed parts of the city. In 1996, the city of Meknes made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its exceptional design including “elements of Islamic and European design and planning in a harmonious fashion.” The designation also fueled many serious renovation projects to help preserve these incredible monuments for the future.   (more…)

10 Reasons to Vacation in Morocco

morocco things to doWhen you travel, do you like to poke around palaces, indulge yourself in history at a museum or sip coffee at a local café? Do you prefer to take part in extreme sports or wander through the wilderness?

The beauty of Morocco as a vacation destination is that it’s a country diverse in adventure, culture and heritage, and regardless of your travel style, you’ll find something here that suits you. Whatever your preferences when it comes to travel, here are ten good reasons you’ll want to make Morocco your next holiday destination:

1. Trekking experiences are plentiful. The main mountain ranges in Morocco are the Rif Mountains, Atlas Mountains, Middle Atlas Mountains and Anti Atlas Mountains. The Rif Mountains, located in the northern section of the country, are covered with cascades, forested land and caves. Expert trekkers will find more challenging terrain in the High Atlas Mountains. (more…)

5 Must-Have Experiences in Morocco

Camel Tour in MoroccoMorocco: Home of fabulous cuisine, beautiful languages, a unique culture and stunning historical sites. With so much to see and do in Morocco, it can be hard to pick the best experiences. If you’re looking for an interesting mix of adventure, education and culture, here are five Moroccan experiences you absolutely shouldn’t miss:

  1. Visit Ait Benhaddou. This desert fortress (also known as a kabash) is located in the Draa Valley and was built to protect the locals from outside invaders. The city has a frozen-in-history feel with its building designs dating back to the 11th century. It’s little surprise, then, that Ait Benhaddou has been used as a backdrop for several Hollywood films, including Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator. (more…)

Dust and Discovery: Morocco’s Imperial Cities

Meknes MoroccoWhile there is a lot of opportunity to get off the beaten path to visit the lesser-explored regions of Morocco, many travelers want to combine fun and adventure along with a dabbling of history into their holiday. For all three, immerse yourself in Morocco’s imperial cities. Be prepared for some stunning photos while meandering through the historical sites, the coast and deep into ancient medinas that have literally stood the test of time.
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Morocco’s Imperial Cities Revealed

A Moroccan KasbahHaving an understanding of Morocco’s architecture and the layout of its ancient cities will help you to absorb the full flavor of the country, its history, and people. The architecture within each of Morocco’s Imperial Cities offers onlookers an intricate glimpse into Morocco’s fascinating heritage. (more…)