Morocco – Vibrant, Busy, And Culturally Unique
A former imperial city in western Morocco is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces and gardens. It is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. High mountains, souqs, and a rugged coastline. Marrakech is well known for its central square in the heart of the old town, the Jemaa el-Fnaa.
No one visits Marrakech without at least spending some time at the square. It is also well known for its culture, spices and vibrancy. We visited Tangier and Marrakesh and the weather was nice and warm during the day but dropped significantly at night. Average temperature ranges from 14 – 20 degrees centigrade (56 – 68 Fahrenheit).
The Amazing and Beautiful Marrakesh
The main square truly comes to life at night. The restaurant stalls pop-up all over Jemma el-Fnaa.
Many gems can also be found if you decided to shop the souks.
We started out with a camel ride as one of our first activities. Depending on your taste, this city has a lot to offer.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Marrakesh
1. Koutoubia Mosque
This is the largest Mosque in Marrakech. Built in 1184, and named for the Arabic word for book, koutoub. Well known for its tall minaret (tower). The building consists of six rooms, one above the other, connected by a ramp.
A perfect starting point for your adventure in the old town. It sits right in front of the main access avenue to Jemaa el-Fnaa and will help you find your way back to the square.
2. Bahia Palace
The palace of Bahia also known as the palace of the beautiful, the brilliant) is a nineteenth-century palace that spreads over eight hectares. One of the masterpieces of Moroccan architecture, and part of the major monuments of the Moroccan cultural heritage. There is a 2-acre (8,000 m²) garden with rooms opening onto courtyards.
3. Ben Youssef Madrasa
The Ben Youssef Madrasa is an Islamic college in Marrakesh and in my humble opinion, this is the most beautiful building in Marrakesh. It was founded in the 14th century and once housed as many as 900 students up until 1960 when it was closed.
It has been open to the public since 1982 as a historical site.
4. Royal Palace
Although you are not allowed to go inside the palace, it is still interesting to see from the outside. Here you can get great pictures of all of the intricate mosaics and woodworking found in the various walls and ceilings.
There’s no furniture in the rooms, just beautifully detailed craftmanship.
5. Le Jardin Secret
The riad-museum Le Jardin Secret is one of the largest and most ancient palaces of the medina of Marrakech.
Le Jardin Secret has been the home of some of Morocco and Marrakech’s most important political figures.
Thanks to the recent renovation, the garden is finally open to the public.
Ouzoud Falls In The Atlas Mountains
The Ouzoud Falls, located about 150 km outside Marrakesh is the most visited site of the region near the Atlas Village of Tanaghmeilt. The waterfalls are about 110 meters high.
We enjoyed a great camel ride as one of our first activities in Morocco.
You can book either a 4×4 or take the tour vans into the Atlas Mountains.
A local guide to lead you for the hike through the mountains and to the bottom of the falls.
We opted for the tour van and completed the hike in about 2 hours.
Although I am not the sporty type, it was worth it to see the beautiful waterfalls.
There are so many beautiful and stunning views up here. Morocco is an entirely different world.
Markets And Food in Marrakesh
The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city which dates back to the Berber Empire.
Lots of maze-like alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry.
You can buy lovely ready-made carpets or have one designed to your liking in Morocco.
Markets offer traditional clothing, bags, shoes, shisha, and so much more.
When in Morocco, make sure to visit a market, especially Jemaa el-Fna.
It is a square and market place in Marrakesh’s Medina quarter (old city), and the main square of Marrakesh.
Food vendors line Jemaa el-Fna, where storytellers and musicians perform.
The most common food available is beef, which is served in a Tajine with vegetables.
The cities are famous for their mint brew teas. I must have drunk at least 30 of them!
Don’t get caught off guard when someone decides to put a snake around your neck….!
One of the fun evenings we had in Marrakesh was the Fantasia dinner and cultural show in Marrakesh.
Moroccan dinner, with traditional dancing accompanied by Berber music in a huge tent.
After dinner and dancing, you have a seat in the outdoor arena to be entertained by an amazing folklore show featuring horse riders, dancers, and magicians.
You enjoy the finale of the evening with fire-eaters, acrobats and magicians. plus two performers aboard a magic carpet ‘flying’ through the air. It is spectacular!
Visiting Tangier, Morocco
Located in Northern Morocco, Tangier is separated from Spain by the 30 kilometers of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Tangier-Ibn Batouta Airport is located about 12 km (7.5 miles) from the city.
When we arrived in Tangier, I was quite surprised at how small the Airport was.
For some reason, I had envisioned it to be a lot bigger than it was.
Flying in from Barcelona El-Prat Airport to Tangier was a big difference.
We had booked a wonderful and beautiful apartment at the Mnar Castle Hotel Apartments.
This was a fantastic choice! Easy to find, great place, and service was excellent. More about the apartment below.
We were ready to explore the city!
We visited the Tangier American Legation Museum which is a cultural centre, museum, conference centre and library in the heart of the old Medina.
It is also the only US National Historic Landmark on foreign soil.
The five-storey mansion is home to James McBey’s painting of his servant girl, Zohra, who has been called the Moroccan Mona Lisa.
Best Three Things About Our Hotel
Mnar Castle Hotel Apartments Tangier
The Apartment Size
The apartment was larger than I expected, with a feel of new and luxury quality.
We were seven people with more than enough space.
The apartment is also well furnished, and well equipped with everything you would need.
Excellent for families.
Although the apartment had a great balcony to look out unto the water.
The rooftop offers an amazing view of the Mediterranean.
The staff here was great! Quick to respond to your every need and wish.
I would definitely say here again if I returned to Tangier.
Best Three Things About Our Hotel
Hotel Du Golf Marrakesh
The room was huge, great balcony, and a bed that could sleep three or four people! The Hotel Du Golf is amazing!
There was a Christmas Party going on at the hotel, lots of decorations, many people.
If you are into drinking, dancing, music, this is a fun place to be.
Staff booked us into the hotel with no prior reservation though we arrived after midnight.
The hotel we had originally booked messed up our reservation, but it turned out to be for the better.
Five Interesting Facts About Morocco
*The Arabic name for Morocco, al-Magrib al-Aqsa, means “the extreme west” and attests to Morocco’s place as the westernmost country in the Arab world.
*Mohamed VI has been King of Morocco since July 23, 1999, upon the death of his father King Hassan II.
*Any Moroccan man or woman who is sherfa (believed to be descended from the Prophet Muhammad) is given the title Lalla, Sidi, or Moulay.
*Morocco is the only African country that is not a member of the African Union.
*Morocco was the first nation to sign a treaty with the United States in 1786.
Have you been to Morocco? Feel like heading there after reading this post?
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