Trekking through the Glorious Past and its Interesting Cities
Located in North Africa, Morocco is a country where 34 million citizens share a diverse culture. Moroccan culture is a testament that history and tradition define a country. It is a country where tradition merges with ethnicity. What makes Morocco a popular destination among travelers is its scenic rocky terrains, rugged charm, and exquisite cuisines. Its colorful heritage only adds to its irresistible appeal. Tourists can always find something exciting in every Moroccan region as each is as unique as the next.
The territory of Morocco is divided among rugged mountains, seaside plains, lowlands, and the wide expanse of the Sahara. The Atlas Mountains occupy most of the mountainous terrains. High plateaus and valleys also stretch into the northeast-southwest part of the country. Er Rif, which is situated at a lower range, lines the Mediterranean coast. Low plateaus and level plains scatter in between the Atlas Mountains and the Atlantic. The vastness of the Sahara dominates the southern part of Morocco. The climate varies from high temperature to rainy and winter season. During the winter season, Moroccan mountains are usually bathed in snow for a few months.
In 1000BC the Phoenician roamed around this part of Africa and referred to its settlers as barbaroi, which means "not our people". Barbaroi later became Berbers. Its early inhabitants, the Berbers, are believed to be a mix of different races such as the Celts, Basques and Lebanese. The Romans included Morocco in their empire in 150BC but let the Berbers live their lives undisturbed. They used to inhabit the inland and the mountains. In 7th century AD, northern Africa, including Morocco, was invaded by the Arab forces. With the Berbers, the Arabs marched into Spain where they had established their existence for 600 years.
In 788 Moulay Idriss, from the bloodline of Prophet Mohammed, was made the Berber king. His power and influence became widespread but a rival put an end to his reign by killing him. Moulay Idriss's tomb is now one of the holiest spots in Morocco. His son Moulay Idriss II succeeded him and built the city of Fez, which was the capital of Morocco during that period. When Moulay Idriss II died in 828, the power was divided among his sons that led to the weakening of the leadership.
In the middle of the 11th century, the Almohads invaded southern Morocco and seized Fez. They made Marrakech the capital city then marched into Spain. By mid 12th century, the Almohads ruled over North Africa and a big part of Spain. The Beni Merin Berber tribe put an end to the Almohad dynasty in the mid 13th century and built grandiose structures such as the Alhambra in Spain.
In 1912, Morocco became the colony of France and Spain. They had an Alaouite sultan which was appointed by the French government. France governed the central and southern Morocco while Spain took control of the northern areas. While under the Franco-Spanish protectorate, Morocco experienced a boom in its infrastructure as railways, roads, schools and towns were founded.
During World War II, the French government tried to quell the growing independence movement by putting into exile sultan Mohammad V. But that didn't suppress the cry for independence so Mohammad V was reinstated and became king when Morocco was finally declared an independent country in 1956.
Main Tourist Attractions
Rabat, Morocco's capital, has gathered over 2000 years of history. During the reign of Almohad sultan Yacoub al-Mansou, magnificent structures rose. The Oudaia Gate, Chellah Gate, and ar-Rouah Gate were commissioned by the Almohad sultan. Today, these structures are still standing and showing off their grandeur and visitors can get a glimpse of them by visiting Rabat. The walled medina offers a wide selection of the famous Moroccan carpets. A fantastic view of the Oudaia Gate as well as the Andalusian Gardens can be seen from the Kasbah des Oudaias.
The city of Casablanca evokes images of romantic dinners along its boulevards surrounded by trees. The Dades Gorge is strewn with natural wonders such as its towering cliffs and unusual rock formations. The Agadir is an ideal tourist spot because of its tourist facilities such as hotels and dining areas. For those who want to stay away from the crowd, Agrohd and Cap Rhir offer plenty of privacy.
The Essaouira is a town redesigned by a French architect to be a business center. Today, it is lined with specialty shops and arts and craft stores. It is a great place to buy Moroccan products and one can also be adventurous with windsurfing in the town's beaches. The city of Fes boasts of its cultural and spiritual past. It is a vibrant and colorful city with unforgettable scenes and Moroccan smell. The city of Marrakech is just as promising as activities and foods compete for a visitor's attention.
Uniqueness of the Country
Morocco is a land full of promise and contradictions. Vast mountain ranges and the large desert of the Sahara separate it from other African countries. Its diverse culture draws origin and inspirations from Islamic, European, African, and its indigenous settlers from years back. The Berbers have maintained their ways of life despite centuries of changes and power transitions. The minimalist life of the desert, the bustling life of the city, and the vestiges of French influence has made this mountainous country unique and interesting. Hospitality, generosity and warmth are just some of the most admirable traits of the Moroccan people.
Although Morocco has deep cultural roots, it is slowly embracing the modern ways. Family values are foremost in Moroccan communities. The elders are respected and exert a kind of authority. Kissing on the cheek is a traditional Moroccan greeting. When a family invites you to visit, it is customary to bring gifts such as such delicacies and flowers. Moroccan women are designated to care for their homes while the men tend to their businesses. Tourists must observe and practice the Moroccan ways to take to the locals immediately.
The Djellaba is traditional Moroccan clothing. It is worn by most Moroccan citizens. The Tarboosh is cap worn by men while women wear Gandoras. Morocco is known for its unique and fantastic cuisine. Moroccan cuisine is a mixture of many influences and spices are very common in almost all dishes. Tea is a popular beverage in all regions. Moroccan love to celebrate festivals and almost every month in the calendar commemorates an important date.