Let me take you on my 13 days trip inside Morocco.
During this journey, after travelling for more than 2820 km (1752 miles), I have visited Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert, Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchouen and Fez.
I hope that through my journey, you will learn few things about Morocco and hopefully get inspired. If you don’t see or consider Morocco as a possible destination; the landscape, the diversity, the culture, the history, the architecture, the people, the climate, should help change your mind.
I will mention, review places or things to do and bring up historic facts.
On the other hand, I will try to be judgement free, and let you make your own opinion of this rich and diverse country.
There is nothing worse than when someone tells you how good a movie is, before you go see it. You always end up disappointed.
We are the 24th of January 2017. Marrakesh airport. Stepping down from the plane, a Boeing 737 from Transavia airline from Paris Orly (check
Stepping down from the plane, a Boeing 737 from Transavia airline from Paris Orly (check Skyscanner for best deals); the temperature couldn’t be more welcoming!
I left Paris and his freezing cold for a 20+ degrees, Marrakesh thermometer. Not bad for January.
My hotel, the Kammy hostel in the medina; organised a taxi to pick me up for 15€.
Unless you know your surrounding in Marrakesh, I recommend you do the same thing. You are less likely to pay top price and unless you are courageous to take a bus, it’s the most convenient idea.
Let’s get historical!
The oldest recollection of the region is from Berber farmers living in the area since Neolithic age (before 4500BC)!
Marrakesh is today the fourth largest city of the Kingdom, but probably the most important city between the four former imperial cities in Morocco build by Berbers empires, back in the ninth century.
The actual city was founded in 1062 by the Almoravid dynasty, as the capital of the Kingdom.
The city lost his dominance on the Kingdom, to Fez, from 1244 until the Saadi dynasty, in the early XVI century. IN order to modernise and enrich the city, the Saadi sultans engaged in massive construction work, like immense palaces, and restored ruined monuments.
Marrakesh is recognisable by its red walls and red buildings, build in 1122-1123 under the Almoravid dynasty, nicknaming it “The Red City” or “Ochre City”.
Marrakesh, like many others Moroccan cities, have been built with a fortified city centre, called medina, today packed with large numbers of artisan shops.
It has the largest traditional market (souks) in the kingdom. You can find anything from traditional Berber carpet to electronic accessories.
What to see in Marrakesh:
Busiest square in Africa and main square of Marrakesh.
Quiet in the morning, as you can tell!, but packed from afternoon until night.
The Koutoubia mosque was completed between 1184 and 1199. It is the largest mosque in the city. It’s inspiring and contemporary architecture at the time, inspired other buildings like the Hassan tower of Rabat and the Giralda of Sevilla. The minaret measure 77m (253 ft) high.
Build from 1866, the palace is considered a master piece of the Moroccan architecture and one of the major monuments of the Kingdom.
Also, it was the largest of all the palace at the time. 8000m2
Ahmed Ben Moussa (1841-1900), build the Palace for his favorite mistress during his reign.
Bahia means “la belle, la brillante” in French.
60 corpses from members of the Saadian dynasty rest in this monument.
The monument was build in the XVI century and has been forgotten/lost until the French discover it via aerial footage in 1917.
Ben Youssef Mosque
First mosque to be erected in Marrakesh in the 1070’s.
It is the decision of Almoravid Emir, Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, given the mosque his name “Ben Youssef”
It was finally completed between 1121 and 1132.
Having fall into ruin during the XVII-XVIII century, it is almost completely rebuilt by the Alaouite sultan. But the name sticks.
The Qadi (religious Judge) of the Ben Youssef Mosque, still to this day has jurisdiction over all Marrakesh and beyond.
One of the biggest palace in the Kingdom, the palace is surrounding by huge red walls.
Note, it is in this place that important traité has been signed, like the “Arab Maghreb Union” in 1989.
The guards are not kind of tourists taking pictures. So be discreet.
Next Episode: ON THE ROAD TO THE SAHARA DESERT