Historical monuments in Morocco
Historical monuments in Morocco: In Morocco, magnificent landscapes combine with a wide variety of cultural and architectural features, reflecting the roots of this North African kingdom. It’s easy to visit Morocco’s historic monuments, especially as the country is so welcoming. For your next Morocco Tours
Located in the northernmost part of the African continent and at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is a magnificent country that acts as a veritable crossroads of different cultures, including Berber, Arab, and European. With spectacular coastlines, pristine beaches and popular tourist attractions such as the famous medina of Marrakech, the blue-hued town of Chefchaouen and the attractive city of Fez, it’s easy to see why tourists love this country so much. Explore the country’s art and museums, water sports, and beautiful landscapes.
The Palais El Badi, a vestige of Marrakech’s golden age
All that remains of this former palace, built at the end of the 16th century by the Saadian sultan Ahmed al-Mansur Dhahbi, are the ruins, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the orange tree gardens.
Built from noble materials, the Palace once boasted an immense rectangular courtyard with an ablutions basin in the middle, 4 pavilions, and over 300 rooms dedicated to official ceremonies and royal festivities. El Badi means “the incomparable”, and the remains visible today in Marrakech perfectly illustrate the grandeur and excess of yesteryear. The palace has lost none of its splendor, hosting numerous festivals such as the Marrakech du rire, created by Jamel Debbouze.
The kasbah of Chefchaouen, the majestic
Built-in the 15th century, the kasbah of Chefchaouen is a fortress around which the medina grew. Located on the Place de Outa El-Hamman, next to the great mosque, the Kasbah contains a garden and an ethnological museum, featuring a large collection of folk art and handicrafts from northern Morocco.
Volubilis, the city of Ancient Morocco
Considered one of the largest Roman cities in Africa, Volubilis is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Volubilis was the capital of Mauritania, founded in the 3rd century B.C. It was an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was built accordingly. As the remains of the Caracalla Arch, the Tingis Gate, the mosaics, and sculpted columns clearly demonstrate, the site is sure to be a sight to behold!
The Koutoubia mosque, one of the most famous in the world
It’s not necessarily the building and its rather austere architecture that catch the eye, but the elements that surround it. Starting with its sublime minaret, more ostentatious in its design and richly decorated, it reaches a height of 69 meters, 77 including the tip of the spire. The mosque also boasts splendid gardens, lush avenues and fountains.
The spectacular Bahia Palace
Grand Vizier Sidi Moussa founded this palace in the 19th century with a single aim: to be the most impressive palace of all time. It took over a decade to build. Spread over 8 hectares and featuring 150 rooms, the Bahia Palace in Marrakech is one of the most beautiful buildings to visit in Marrakech.
The solemn Mohammed V mausoleum
Head for Morocco’s capital, Rabat, and the Mohammed V mausoleum. This monument is dedicated to the memory of the late monarch, who was much loved by the Moroccan people. A visit to the building offers a close-up view of traditional Moroccan art: white marble, zellige, patterned ceilings, and sculptures in plaster and wood.
The Kasbah des Oudayas, a city within a city
Let’s stay in Rabat to discover its kasbah. Built-in the 12th century, it was once a fortified military camp occupied by soldier monks. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was one of the first palaces built by the still-reigning Alaouite royal dynasty. The Andalusian influence can be felt throughout whitewashed walls, the omnipresent color blue, cobbled streets, massive doors with colorful moldings, and wrought iron… This exceptional site is a haven of peace for its inhabitants and visitors alike.
The Saadian tombs, the royal edifice
Discovered in 1917, the Saadian Tombs are a royal necropolis. Located in the heart of Marrakech, in an enclosed garden accessed via a small corridor, the most important building is the main mausoleum, where Sultan Ahmad-al-Mansur and his family are laid to rest. The mausoleum has three chambers, including the famous Tomb of Twelve Columns, in which the sultan’s children are buried. The garden houses more than 100 mosaic-decorated graves where the Saadian dynasty’s slaves and soldiers are interred.
Hassan II Mosque, the jewel of Casablanca
Historical monuments in Morocco: The Hassan II Mosque is the 6th largest mosque in the world and boasts the 2nd highest minaret (200 meters high). Located in Casablanca, facing the Atlantic Ocean, it was partly built on the sea. A prayer hall, ablution room, bathroom, Koranic school, library, and museum are all included in this genuine religious and cultural complex.
The medersa el-Attarine, an architectural jewel
Built-in the 14th century, this was one of the main schools of the Koranic religion. Located in the heart of the Attarine (spice merchant) district, students could live here while they studied. Although there are several medersas in Fez, Attarine stands out for its elegance, refined geometric decorations, and superb ornamentation.
And of course, we can’t forget the medinas of Fez and Essaouira, the Cap Spartel lighthouse, the Taourirt Kasbah site, the ramparts of Essaouira or the Ben Youssef medersa in Marrakech. Morocco is full of architectural gems!
Al Quaraouiyine (Al-Karaouine) University, Fez
Our second historic monument is located in Morocco’s cultural capital, Fez, and we’re off to discover the oldest university in the world still in operation, as certified by UNESCO and Guinness World Records: Al Quaraouiyine University.
Construction began in 859 during the reign of the Idrisid dynasty, and the university’s foundation is attributed to Fatima al-Fihriya, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who lived in Fez. In the 12th century, many of the world’s greatest names passed through this university, including the philosophers Avenpace and Averroes, and Ibn Khaldun.
Address: Quartier Qayruwan, Fez, Morocco.
Kasbah de Taourirt, Ouarzazate
Known as the gateway to the desert, the Kasbah de Taourirt dates back to the 17th century. One of Morocco’s finest examples of Berber architecture.
Located in Ouarzazate, the Kasbah is made of earth, straw, and lime, elements that have become brittle over the centuries.
Listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, the Kasbah de Taourirt can only be visited in part, so you can admire the private apartments where the richness of the interior decoration contrasts with the dobriety of the exterior décor.
Address: Avenue Mohammed V, Ouarzazate, Morocco.
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl, Meknes
Historical monuments in Morocco: Morocco boasts a multitude of historic sites across the country, and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl is one of the popular historic structures that attract people to the city of Meknes.
Like the Hassan II Mosque, the site is open to non-Muslims for visits, for history, the Mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1645-1727) is an ancient mosque built in 1703 by Ahmed Eddahbi in the city. The mausoleum comprises several courtyards, the last of which features an ablutions basin where visitors must remove their shoes before entering the mausoleum’s majestic antechamber.
The place offers a quiet, peaceful atmosphere, amidst architecture that combines Islamic and Moorish styles.
Address: Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl, Meknes, Morocco.
The most beautiful waterfalls in Morocco
The country is full of beautiful landscapes and surprises, and today we’re going to introduce you to the most beautiful waterfalls in Morocco.
Not only does a nature hike offer you a refreshing moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it also gives you the opportunity to witness some beautiful natural spectacles. Who doesn’t love the sound of water crashing against rock, or a soothing, refreshing natural sound on a sweltering summer’s day?
Here’s our selection of the best waterfalls in Morocco.
Quite simply the most popular waterfalls in Morocco, and among the highest in the country. The spectacle is provided by the many spectacular waterfalls.
You can get even closer to the waterfalls by taking a small boat, or why not hike for an hour and a half to the top of the Ouzoud Falls.
Once you’re at the top of the falls, turn right and keep walking. You won’t have to walk very long before you find yourself in the middle of a beautiful olive grove. Make sure you don’t forget the way back!
Ouzoud Falls is home to a community of Barbary macaque monkeys, who are more than happy to come and welcome you! Just be careful with your accessories or anything you hold in your hands!
The best way to visit is undoubtedly the Ouzoud Falls guided tour, as it also includes excursions to traditional Berber villages, specially prepared food, and hotel transfers.
Oum Errabiâ waterfalls
In the middle of the Atlas Mountains, backed by red cliffs in a rugged desert landscape, a serene spring of water bursts through dusty vermilion rock to feed one of Morocco’s largest rivers.
The falls are surrounded by a typically Moroccan reddish-brown stone corridor, while a short inlet of cool brown water guides you forward. You’re free to swim in this water if you like, so bring your swimsuit!
If you wander around the area, you’re bound to come across some traditional bamboo houses, as well as incredible greenery and beautiful olive groves.
You can rent some of the huts lining the banks of the river for just 100 dirhams, or around 10 euros a day. Above these little huts are, typically, a few cafés serving tea and tagines to order.
If you’re looking to relax in one of these riverside houses, don’t swim in the river. The current is far too strong to make swimming safe. If you do feel like swimming, stay in the water near the waterfall.
Paradise Valley waterfalls
Historical monuments in Morocco: On the western side of Morocco, some 56 kilometers from Agadir, you’ll find one of Morocco’s most heavenly waterfalls.
There’s a very laid-back atmosphere in this little enclave of paradise, which caters for tourists visiting Paradise Valley from the nearby coastal town of Taghazout, renowned for its surf spots. The relaxed atmosphere here is mirrored in Paradise Valley.
You can jump off the rocks, take a refreshing dip, explore the surrounding olive groves, or simply soak up the sun. You can even get up close and take a cheeky shower under the spray.
Of course, this super idyllic spot has quite a reputation now. You’d be extraordinarily lucky to have the place to yourself, but the site is more than big enough to accommodate several groups of people. If you want a little more peace and quiet, a short hike will take you to many potential spots away from the crowds.
The best time to visit is in late winter or early spring. That way, the river is full and the greenery is vibrant and lush.
If you visit the blue city of Chefchaouen, be sure to take the time to visit one of Morocco’s most charming waterfalls: Akchour Falls.
Once again, this is no mere waterfall. The name actually refers to a series of small springs and waterfalls in the same area.
There is, however, one main stream, which spills over from a height of 100 metres. The Akchour waterfalls are a perfect excursion for the whole family, including children. There are several hiking options and many different waterfalls around which you can organize your visit.
Don’t hesitate to take a dip in one of the beautiful pools below the waterfalls. But beware, the water is cold all year round. Yes, even in the heat of the Moroccan summer.
There are plenty of stalls selling drinks and traditional tajines along the way, so you won’t have to pack your lunch if you don’t want to carry it.
Gnaoua art and music join Unesco’s World Heritage List!
The month of December 2019 is a milestone for Essaouira, the cradle of Gnaoua culture. On December 12, Gnaoua art and music joined Unesco’s prestigious list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. A major recognition for a community still considered marginal until recently…
Encounter with the ancient Gnaoua Brotherhood
To understand the importance of this official recognition, we need to go back several centuries, to the origins of the Gnaoua community. In the 16th century, former slaves from sub-Saharan Africa were forced to convert to Islam and decided to blend this religion with the animist rites of the Sahel. Gnaoua art, a blend of music, dance, and ritual, was born. Its primary aim is therapeutic, the perfect harmony of lute, drum, and castanet rhythms and the trance-inducing voices of its performers.
From its earliest beginnings until the end of the 20th century, Gnaoua art was marginalized. It wasn’t until the creation of the Essaouira Festival that the historical and cultural value of this musical tradition was finally recognized.
Discovering the Essaouira Festival
Historical monuments in Morocco The first Essaouira Festival in 1997 marked the revival and recognition of Gnaoua art and music. Long regarded as troubadours, the artists now enjoy greater notoriety and worldwide recognition. Every year at the start of summer, the town of Essaouira dons its finest festive garb to welcome thousands of visitors to attend Gnaoua music performances. Dressed in their brightly-colored costumes, the musicians, equipped with their grageb and guembri, perform for an audience in a trance. For three days, all the world’s music are in symbiosis on the different stages, forming an intriguing musical melting pot. The “African Woodstock”, as it’s nicknamed, is a must-see if you want to immerse yourself in Gnaoua culture and enjoy Essaouira’s festive atmosphere.
A little-known art form now listed by Unesco
The Gnaoua’s inclusion on Unesco’s list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage means they are finally recognized for the richness their culture and music have brought to Morocco. This minority culture, perfectly representative of the different facets of the Moroccan identity, blends the sacred with the profane in a unique art form. This official recognition is excellent news for the Gnaoua, as they are now assured of the transmission and perpetuation of their centuries-old oral tradition. It is also a way of introducing this extremely popular culture to new and future generations, who will no doubt feel a sense of duty and pride in perpetuating the inimitable rhythms of Gnaoua music…