Morocco’s Top Sights: Top 23
The Kingdom of Morocco is a state located in the far northwest of Africa. This area was first inhabited by people back in the Paleolithic era, as evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds. Later on the territory of the modern Morocco was succeeded by dozens of peoples with different cultures. From the Phoenicians and the Romans to the Arabs and the European colonizers.
Because of this, the state is so saturated with a variety of cultural and historical sites belonging to different eras. For the most part they are the monuments of Muslim architecture – magnificent palaces, mosques, dwellings, richly decorated with carved arabesques.
Tourists are no less attracted to this kingdom and the natural beauties. This picturesque Atlas Mountains, warm Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean Sea, blooming green valleys and the majestic Sahara Desert.
Let’s take a closer look at what to see from the sights in Morocco, the tourist visiting this wonderful country for the first time.
Attractions in Morocco
1. Hassan II Mosque (Casablanca)
The Hassan II Mosque is a monumental religious complex erected in Casablanca between 1986 and 1993. At the moment it is the biggest mosque in Morocco and one of the biggest temple complexes in the world. Its total area is 9 hectares. The mosque can accommodate 105 thousand visitors at a time, and the height of its minaret is 210 meters. The author of the project of Hassan-II mosque was French architect Pinceau. During the construction 2.5 thousand workers and more than 10 thousand artists, sculptors, carvers in stone and wood were involved.
The building was made in the traditional Muslim style. Its interior is decorated with 78 columns of pink granite; the floor is paved with golden marble tiles; the roof is covered with emerald tiles. The internal illumination is presented by magnificent Italian chandeliers, each of which has weight up to 5 tons.
On the top point of the minaret a laser searchlight is installed, aimed in the direction of Mecca. At night, its green beam creates a path in the sky up to 30 km long.
2. The city of Fez
Fez is the oldest of the four Moroccan imperial cities and was founded in 789 by Idris I. Since then the city has been the capital of the Islamic Idrissid state. The heyday of the city falls on the era of the Almoravids when in the XII century Fez became one of the major cities of the Islamic world. Trade, crafts, science and education thrived here. Medieval Fez, thanks to its al-Qaraouin University, gave the world a whole pleiad of excellent theologians, mathematicians, geographers and philosophers.
Active construction and improvement were carried out in the capital: beautiful palaces and villas, mosques and madrassahs, and public buildings were built. Many of them have survived to this day, constituting the golden fund of Moroccan culture and art. Among the most notable sights of Fez are the fortress gate Bab Boulud, the Jnan Sbil garden, Al-Attarin madrassah and many other examples of medieval architecture.
3. the archaeological sites of Volubilis
Volubilis are the ruins of an ancient Roman town halfway between Fez and Rabat, the capital of the kingdom. This place will undoubtedly attract all lovers of ancient history. Volubilis was founded in the Neolithic period by local tribes, and fell under the rule of the Carthaginians in the 3rd century. Later it was taken over by the Romans in the Punic wars and during their reign the city reached its prime. Volubilis became the capital of the Roman province of Mauretania with much administrative, residential and public construction.
Remains of the aqueduct, the basilica, the Caracalla triumphal arch, the temples, the porticoes and the public buildings of the Roman Forum can still be seen today. After the Arab conquest the site of the ancient city was occupied by a small village of Muslims, finally destroyed and abandoned by the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
4. The Menard Gardens (Marrakech)
The Menara Gardens are located in the city of Marrakech, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The gardens were created in 1130 by the ruler Abd al-Mumin of the Almohad dynasty.
Today, the gardens of Menard occupy an area of 100 hectares, on which grows more than 30 thousand palm trees, olive trees and fruit trees. At the center of the gardens is a picturesque lake, framed by green vegetation and built on the banks of the pavilion of the 16th century.
Especially for irrigating the trees in the gardens, a water supply system was built in the Middle Ages, which is still in operation today.
5. The City of Meknes
Meknes, one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, was founded in the 8th century as the fortress of the Kasbah. During the Alawite dynasty in 1673, Meknes became the capital of the state.
Today, there are many historical monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. For this reason it is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Most of the architectural sights of Meknes were built during the reign of Ismail ibn Sherif and are located in the old town. This magnificent mosque Bab Berdain, a powerful defensive wall with towers and 9 ornate gates, stables Rua for 12 horses and urban gardens covering an area of 9 hectares.
The central square often hosts theatrical performances, ethno-festivals, snake charmer, acrobats and jugglers.
6. The Hercules Caves (Tangier).
This natural attraction is located in the cape of Spartel 14 km from the port city of Tangier. According to the legend, the caves were the stopping place of Hercules when he went to Lixus to get the apples of the Hesperides. According to another legend, these caves have no bottom and if you find the right way, you can go through an underground tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar and reach the cave of St. Michael on the European side.
The Grottoes of Hercules have two entrances, one from the land and one from the sea. Moreover, the sea entrance has an outline similar to that of the African continent, for which the cave is also called “Grotto Africa”. Some scholars suggest that the entrance was carved artificially during the Phoenician period. According to archaeologists, the first human settlements appeared there during the Neolithic period.
Today, the grotto of Hercules is an important tourist attraction: hotels, cafes and restaurants are built nearby and there is lighting inside.
7. Todra Gorges
Todra is a canyon in the eastern part of the Atlas Mountains, formed over the millennia by the waters of the Dades and Todra Rivers. Its length is 40 km and at its narrowest point the width of the gorge does not exceed 10 meters with a depth of 160. The edges of the gorge in this place plumb descend down smooth walls, at the bottom of which flows an icy mountain stream. In the dry season, the Todra River is a barely visible stream, but in the rainy season it turns into a full-flowing roaring stream capable of carrying huge boulders.
8. Erg-chebbi Desert
Erg-chebbi is a significant sand massif located in the southeastern part of the country. This area of more than 100 square kilometers is occupied by constantly moving dunes under the influence of the wind. The largest of them exceed the height of 150 meters. Tourists are attracted here by the extraordinary beauty of the landscape – the sands of Erg-Shebbi have a rich orange hue, which gives the surrounding area a kind of fairy-tale look.
Travelers can tour the orange dunes on camels, stay overnight in Bedouin tents, taste their national dishes and get acquainted with the daily life of desert nomads.
Essaouira is a resort city located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. It was founded in the seventh century BC, in the days of the Phoenicians as a fishing port. The fishing industry still occupies one of the leading roles among the activities of the local population. Essaouira is well known outside Morocco for its sardines, which are exported to Europe.
Tourists can enjoy the beautifully manicured beaches and the warm clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The numerous cafes and restaurants in Essaouira offer excellent dishes from fresh seafood, among which fried sardines are especially appreciated.
The old part of the city with its well-preserved medieval buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Bahia Palace (Marrakech)
The Bahia Palace is one of the main attractions of Marrakech. It was built in 1859-1867, by order of the Grand Vizier Si Moussa. In 1894-1900 the complex was reconstructed and greatly expanded by his son Ba Ahmed. However, after Ba Ahmed fell out of favor with the sultan, this magnificent palace was destroyed. It was only after the French conquest of Morocco that the Bahia Palace was restored to its original splendour by Marshal Lyotte.
Today, there is a museum here that is open to the public. The complex is in Arabic-Andalusian style and extends over an area of 8 hectares. In addition to the living quarters, the palace includes a mosque, a large stable, hammams, and various outbuildings.
Bahia is surrounded by a picturesque garden, planted with cypresses, oranges, bananas and jasmine. In the garden, artificial channels and alleys were laid, ponds were arranged, pavilions, arbors and openwork bridges were built.
11. The Majorelle Garden (Marrakech)
The Majorelle Garden is a botanical park created in 1923 in Marrakech. The park was initiated by the French painter Majorelle, after whom it was named. In 1980 the park was purchased from the artist’s descendants by the famous French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Today there are trees, flowers and shrubs from all five continents of the earth. They are looked after by a staff of gardeners and landscape designers.
There are several museum exhibits on the territory of the park, including the studio of the artist Jacques Majorelle.
The park is a favorite resting place for Marrakech residents and visitors, attracted here by the cool shade of palm alleys and the splendid riot of greenery. In general, the park’s architecture follows a Moorish style dominated by calm pastel colors.
12. Draa River Valley
The Draa is the longest river in Morocco, over 1,150 km long. It begins in the Atlas Mountains and flows from them into the Atlantic Ocean. But this happens only during the rainy season. In the dry season the length of the river is reduced to 200 km and its course is lost in the sands as soon as it descends from the mountains to the heated sun plain.
The Draa valley is highly fertile and richly populated by local farmers. It has the largest plantations of olive trees, orchards and vineyards in the kingdom. There is a hiking route through the valley, which is considered one of the most scenic tours in Morocco. The Azlag Gorge, a narrowing part of the valley lushly covered with green orchards and groves, is particularly attractive.
13. Jamaa el-Fna Square (Marrakech)
Jamaa el-Fna is the central square of Marrakech and the city’s calling card. The exact date of its establishment is unknown but in the early Middle Ages the square was already an important commercial and socio-political center of the city. A large slave market operated here, and executions were carried out. The square was a major commercial and social and political center of the city and was also the site of a large slave market and of executions.
Today, there are numerous restaurants, stores, and stores around the square. There is a bazaar that opens every evening until dark. There are regular performances of artists, fakirs, jugglers and acrobats on Jamaa el-Fna. The square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
14. The city of Ait-Ben Haddou
Ait Ben-Haddou is a medieval fortified town, located 30 km northwest of Ouarzazate. Since the 11th century it protected the trade routes between the Atlantic coast of Morocco and the wealthy city of Timbuktu in the interior of Africa. Caravaners and pilgrims found shelter within its walls.
Today, with the loss of the importance of the caravan routes, Ait Ben-Haddou is in a semi-abandoned state and only a dozen families live there. However, it continues to attract many tourists with its amazing architecture. The old adobe houses with flat roofs, typical of the Berber architectural tradition, are well preserved. Due to its colorfulness, the city is often used as an entourage for the filming of historical movies.
15. Kasbah of Agadir (Agadir city)
On Morocco’s Atlantic coast, there is a port city called Agadir.. Its historic center is a medieval fortress, the Casbah. It was built in the mid-16th century to protect the city from the raids of enemies from the sea, especially the fleets of the Christian nations of Spain and Portugal. In those years, over 300 soldiers served in the citadel. There were tiered defensive structures and towers. Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed in the catastrophic earthquake of 1960. As a result, travelers today can see only fragments of the ancient fortress wall topped with battlements.
16. Talassemtane National Park
Talassemtane National Park is a protected area located in the northern Rif region. It was created in 2004 and covers an area of 590 square kilometers. The purpose of founding the national park was to preserve relict fir forests growing at an altitude of 350 to 1,100 meters above sea level.
Next to the park is the popular tourist town of Shefshauen, which attracts more visitors to Talassemtan. There are hiking trails, cafes, rest areas, and viewing platforms for travelers. Tourists can see macaques, leopards, lynxes, bearded vultures and many other rare and endangered animals and birds.
17. El Badi Palace (Marrakech)
Qasr Al-Badi is a palace built in Marrakech in 1578-1603 during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansour. The ruler spared no expense to finish his brainchild, and foreign materials were widely used in the construction. For example, marble was imported from Italy, granite from Ireland, onyx from India. Masters from Europe were widely involved in the decoration of the palace. After the fall of the Saadite dynasty it was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Today Qasr al-Badi is a ruin spread over several tens of hectares. At its heyday, the palace complex consisted of 360 rooms, the size of the courtyard was 135 by 110 meters and the pool was 90 by 20 meters.
The picturesque ruins of this once magnificent building are still visible today and give a glimpse of its former splendor. The former sultan’s palace hosts an annual national festival dedicated to the culture and art of Morocco.
18. Arab League Park (Casablanca)
The Arab League Park is located in Casablanca and is the largest in the entire city. It was founded in 1918 and was built over the next two decades with the direct participation of French landscapers.
The park is a green area, built in a typical European regular style: the intersecting at right angles paths and alleys, dividing it into even squares and rectangles. In the park, the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was erected in 1930 and there are numerous cafes, restaurants and recreation areas.
19. G. Chefchaouen or Chavin
Chefchaouen or Chavin is a small resort town located in the northern part of Morocco. It lies at the foot of the Rif Mountains at an altitude of 560 meters above sea level. It was founded in 1471 by the emir Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rachid-El-Alami as a fortress of protection against the Portuguese invasion.
Today the town is one of the main attractions of northern Morocco. Travelers are attracted here by the amazingly beautiful architecture of the town. Most of the buildings are in the traditional Arab-Berber style and painted in shades of blue and blue.
The tradition of painting houses in this color comes from the Middle Ages, when thousands of Jews, expelled from Spain and Portugal by the Catholic monarchs at the end of the Reconquista, found shelter here. The color blue in Jews symbolizes spiritual purity and is associated with the prayer veil tales.
20. Mahkam du Pasha Palace (Casablanca)
The Palais Mahkama du Pacha is located in Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco. This magnificent construction was built in 1948-1952 as an administrative building. It housed the departments of the Casablanca town hall, the city court and a number of other local government offices.
What makes the Mahkam du Pacha Palace unique is its striking architecture which makes it look as if it was built in the fairy tales of Schéhérazade. The complex includes 64 beautifully decorated halls, skilfully decorated with wood and stone carving, artistic forging, mosaic and marble slabs.
Around the palace was laid out a picturesque garden with fountains, ponds, pavilions and bridges.
21. Koutoubia Mosque (Marrakech)
Al-Qutubiyah is the largest mosque in the city of Marrakech, located in its historic part. Its prayer hall is 90×60 meters and can accommodate up to 20,000 worshipers at a time. The Qutubiya was built between 1184 and 1199 by order of the Emir Yaqoub Al Mansour and was a prototype for many religious buildings in the Maghreb and Spain. For example, the Giralda Tower in Seville and the Hassan Tower in Rabat were modeled on its 69-meter minaret.
The minaret of the Kutubiya is crowned with four balls of copper, the glow of which in the sunlight can be seen tens of kilometers away. Inside the minaret there is a wide staircase by which the muezzins climbed to the top of the tower on horseback. Al-Qutubiya is translated in Arabic as “The Mosque of Booksellers,” which is associated with the large library and bookstores that operated there in the Middle Ages.
22. Kasbah Udaya (Rabat)
The Kasbah of the Oudayya is an ancient 12th-century citadel in the modern capital of the Kingdom of Morocco, Rabat. It takes its name from the bandit Bedouin tribe called the Oudaya, whose members settled in Rabat during the Almohads’ reign as a military garrison of the citadel.
The Kasbah of Uday is now essentially a city within a city. Medieval buildings such as mosques, dwellings, merchants and craftsmen’s stalls are perfectly preserved behind the fortress walls.
The territory of the Kasbah is richly landscaped, so that one gets the impression that inside the fortress walls there is one huge garden.
23. Uzud waterfall
The Ouzoud is a beautiful waterfall located on the river El Abid (the River of Prayers) in the Atlas Mountains, 130 km from Marrakech. The total height of the Uzoud falls is 110 meters and the jets break into three successive cascades. Tourists from all over the world are attracted by the beauty of this picturesque place.
Next to the waterfall there is a recreation center where travelers can quietly admire the grandiose jets of the river, plummeting from a height of one hundred meters. You can also interact with the practically tame yellow macaques, trustingly accepting food from people’s hands.
A natural lake, formed at the foot of the Uzud, is a nice place to cool off during the heat of the summer. You can also take a boat trip on it, approaching the very wall of the roaring stream.