If you are a lover of new destinations, then over time you inevitably begin to experience some difficulties when choosing the next route. Acquaintance with the most popular countries among tourists has already taken place. I want something new.
Of course, there are Australia, Jamaica, Seychelles, etc. However, let’s choose a more affordable, but also exotic and not yet familiar region. There is one. This is the north of Africa, or rather, one of the oldest African states – the Kingdom of Morocco.
Morocco originally got its name from Marrakech. Ancient Arabic chroniclers called Marrakech Mraksch (“the city”). This name was gradually modified (Morocco) and was then used for the whole country.
Before 1000 AD Marrakech was only a storage place for caravans. Abou Bekr, leader of the Almoravids, recognized this place as an excellent camp for his troops. In 1062 Youssuf Ibn Tashfin (Abou Bekr’s cousin) built the first mosque and houses.
The huge date palm groves (Palmeraie), which can still be seen in the northeast of the city, also come from him.
This was the starting point to conquer the whole country, advancing as far as Andalusia. He made Marrakech the capital of his empire.
The city was gradually expanded by the Almoravids (under Ali Ihn Yousuf), the Almohads (under Abd el Moumen, 12th century) and then Abou Yakoub Youssuff and Yakoub el Mansour. Only the 9 km long city wall was preserved from the Almoravid period.
Because the following sultans destroyed the palaces of their predecessors, only remnants remain from the Almohad period. The city gates and the famous minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque come from them.
The subsequent Merinide dynasty stayed only briefly in the city and chose Fez as their capital.
When the Saadian people came to power under Ahmed El Arj, Marrakech became the capital again in the 16th century. The ornate Saadian tombs are among the numerous buildings that have been preserved from this period.
They were only rediscovered in 1917, as the main entrance was walled up on the orders of the Alouit Sultan Moulay Ismail. Only the Bahia Palace dates from the Alouit period. This gives an excellent impression of the luxurious life of the rulers at that time. After the French invaded in 1917, The Kingdom of Morocco was ruled by the French-friendly Pasha EL Glaoui.
e gained numerous advantages by working with them. With their help, he defeated the insurgent Berber tribes. He became one of the richest and most influential men in Morocco. When King Mohammed V. ascended the throne his power was over. The hated Pasha died three years later and his property was confiscated by the state.
Numerous buildings still come from him, such as the Dar Glaoui in Telouèt, where the ancestral home of the Glapui clan was. Here you get an overwhelming impression of the former power of the Pasha.
The Kingdom of Morocco originally got its name from Marrakech. Ancient Arabic chroniclers called Marrakech Mraksch (“the city”). This name was gradually modified (The Kingdom of Morocco, MaRueco, …) and was then used for the whole country.
The following souks are currently known to us in the area of Marrakech:
• Souk in Tnine Ourika: Mondays (medium nice), approx. 70 km from Marrakech
• Souk in Tahnaoute: Tuesdays (nice), 34 km from Marrakech
• Souk in the Vallée de Zat (Tighdouine): Wednesdays (very nice and typical), approx. 50 km from Marrakech
• Souk in Asni: Saturdays (very nice and typical), 53 km from Marrakech
This is about 50 km in the direction of Ouarzazate on a side road that goes off at Ait Ourir into the valley of the Zat. The souk on Tuesday and Saturday: You could combine these wonderfully with a trip to Asni and further into the Ourika Valley. The Tin Mal Mosque is also worth a visit.
The souks are located in squares, in alleys, or in the medina. Here craftsmen make kettles, candlesticks, lanterns, trays, teapots, vases … The bazaars are full of different colorful goods from top to bottom …
There are piles of appetizing choux pastries, filled croissants, date tarts …
Here, rows of men in djellabahs sit at mechanical sewing machines. Soft wool is piled up there; a glass of hot mint tea is poured; the oriental scent of spices and pickles in the grocer’s souk fills our nose; the bright colors of the wool offered in the dyers’ souk magically attracts our eyes; Savory skewers (mergez) and baked goods with honey make you feel hungry; the murmur of the crowd and the dull sound of tools penetrate our ears.
Lose yourself in the labyrinth of alleys, stairs, passages, vaults, and dead ends and experience a fascinating world that is carefully guarded. Something like this is probably the case with everyone who strolls through the numerous souks.
You return there and discover something new every time. UNESCO World Heritage Site Marrakech since 1985 “Due to a large number of architecturally significant buildings, including the Koutoubia Mosque from 1162, the Kasbah from the 12th century and the Ben-Jusuf Medersa from the 14th century, the old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main attraction of The city is the Djemaa el Fna, the world-famous medieval market square and hangman’s square, today a lively place for oriental storytellers, snail cooks, snake charmers, and jugglers. “
The second half of March and April is the ideal time to visit. Everything blooms, bright greens. It’s very warm, the stifling summer heat hasn’t come yet. True, on the Atlantic coast, the air temperature rarely rises above 28 degrees, even in August. The most famous Moroccan resort of Agadir is located there, where you can fly by direct flight from Moscow in just six hours.
For years this country has been associated with “Oranges from Morocco” by Vasily Aksenov and the famous American wartime film “Casablanca”. Today you can see the chic city of Casablanca with your own eyes, and taste Moroccan oranges right from the tree. The Kingdom of Morocco is famous for its variety of landscapes. These compact mountain ranges and steep coastal cliffs, vast expanses with fantastic sand dunes (a third of the country is the Sahara), and forests with evergreen shrubs, cheerful olive groves, and noisy waterfalls. Tourists are most often shown a picturesque waterfall near the town of Oued.
Morocco is one of the most popular tourist powers. Europeans are regular guests here. Especially the French, who really enjoy the local cuisine reminiscent of their own. It is quite natural. Indeed, back in 1912, France established a protectorate over The Kingdom of Morocco, where the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors were previously active. The kingdom achieved independence only in 1956. So French, along with Spanish, is widely spoken in this region. In your English in a hotel, restaurant, store, also explain.
And now a little more about the sights of the kingdom. Closer to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea there are two amazing cities – Fez (the “fez” hats are from there) and Meknes with its famous palace gardens. On the Atlantic coast, not far from Agadir, is Marrakech. The former capital of a former giant empire. Large commercial and industrial center. And at the same time an oasis of the relict Middle Ages.
Once in Medina (the so-called “Old City”), you notice that time seems to have stood still. People wear old national clothes. Water carriers, snake charmers, dancers, healers are the most common street audience. Nobody reckons with the fact that the 21st century is already in the yard. The most famous buildings are Bahia (“the palace of the beauty”) and the Golden Apples Mosque.
For forty years in a row, folklore festivals have been organized annually in the El-Badi Palace. Dancers dance in the open air, musicians accompany the Berber flute, tambourine, and flute. Here you can see people with blue skin. These are Tuaregs. The color of their skin (this, in any case, is the explanation), they owe the fact that they are wrapped in indigo-dyed clothes from infancy. And since the paint is homegrown, there are such clinical consequences …
Rabat is located on the Atlantic coast. In the 17th century, the dubious title of the capital of pirates was entrenched behind the city, which attracted adventurers of various kinds. The main changes in the fate of Rabat are associated with the resettlement of Andalusian Muslims – the Moors. Among the historical monuments, the royal palace, the mausoleum of Mohammed V, the 55-meter minaret – the Hassan tower, the ruins of the Yakub al-Mansur mosque, and the Kasbah-Udaya fortress stand out.
Which was also a haven for pirates in the old days, personifies the present day of the country. Business life is concentrated in it. Masterpieces of Arab-Berber architecture coexist with the modern bank and office buildings. Morocco is rightfully proud of the Hassan II mosque, where 25 thousand people can pray at the same time, and another 80 thousand are on the square near it. The 200-meter minaret is the tallest religious building in the world.
The town of Essaouira is located with perfectly preserved fortifications. Once upon a time, slave traders came here to purchase live goods at the local slave market. Maybe the shadows of the past inspired legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. In the hippie sixties, he lived in Essaouira and composed his own songs. A kind of “Boldin autumn”.
So, having made a circle, we returned to the famous resort (300 sunny days a year) with its sandy beaches, pine trees, and eucalyptus trees.
Noisy and crowded ones. Opportunities for windsurfing, jet skiing, sea fishing. What does anyone like. A serene family vacation without any adrenaline can be guaranteed to guests of quiet Tifnit, located 40 km south of Agadir. There are substantial discounts for children.
If the soul requires exotic and vivid impressions, go on an organized excursion to some Berber village. There are many such villages, all consisting of adobe huts, in the foothills and mountainous regions. Berbers (descendants of the indigenous inhabitants of the Kingdom of Morocco) appreciate tourists who bring a stable income. They will smile amiably and entertain you whenever possible. They will treat you with something like pilaf and specialty tea with mint.
It is spicy, generously supplied with spices. Among the national dishes are very popular “couscous” (semolina, lamb, chicken, raisins, onion sauce) and “marshmallow” (it is not at all like the one we are used to: it is a warm pie filled with pigeons, chicken, and almonds). Pork, as it should be among Muslims, is rejected as food. There is no addiction to alcohol, but strong drinks can be purchased.
Be sure to take home a bottle of the most fragrant orange liqueur. Strong coffee is consumed in large quantities here. They drink a lot of sour milk and kefir, which quench their thirst well. Moroccans are a real sweet tooth. Try their flour products such as almond cakes. If you save your figure, it is better to focus on the inexpensive seafood here. They are boiled, fried, stew right before your eyes. Then you will remember for a long time about king prawns or fried eels.
Cuisine, gourmet preferences, and exotic culinary journeys are a separate and fascinating topic. My employee Elena professionally (in my opinion) owns this issue and even opened her own mailing list: Gourmet Travel around the World. I will not reveal all the secrets, I will just say that in a few weeks this newsletter came out on top in terms of the number of subscribers. Interesting? Then you are here. In the meantime, I will continue my story.
You can dine in some of the city’s favorite restaurants. Or skip the midday meal altogether. Why extra calories? Hotels are purposefully competing with each other in terms of interiors and service. The territory is an oasis immersed in tropical greenery, restaurants with various cuisines of the world, bars, swimming pools, and gyms. All this is in any four-star hotel. Five-star hotels are often housed in former palaces and dazzle with oriental luxury. You can safely stop at three stars. There is no luxury, but the level of comfort is quite European.
If you fly to the resort of Agadir (11 days, 10 nights) during the March school holidays, you will have to pay more than 1000 euros. But in mid-April, the price goes down: you can keep within 870. Please note, we are talking about the half board and several excursions included in the price. Agree, prices are reasonable.
Of course, there are Australia, Jamaica, Seychelles, etc. However, let’s choose a more affordable, but also exotic and not yet familiar region. There is one. This is the north of Africa, or rather, one of the oldest African states – The Kingdom of Morocco…
The city of Marrakech was gradually expanded by the Almoravids (under Ali Ibn Yousof), the Almohads (under Abd el Moumen, 12th century) and then Abou Yakoub Youssuff and Yakoub el Mansour. Only the 9 km long city wall was preserved from the Almoravid period…
It is spicy, generously supplied with spices. Among the national dishes are very popular “couscous” (semolina, lamb, chicken, raisins, onion sauce)…