Morocco, the Maghreb, or Land of the Furthest West, is indeed a paradox. It is a land apart, nestled on the great north western shoulder of Africa, separated from the rest of its African neighbors by imposing mountain ranges and the vast Saharan desert. And yet, the country is also a melting pot of African, Islamic, European and indigenous Berber influences, reaching back millennia.
It shares borders with Western Sahara to the south, Algeria to the east and the Spanish North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast in the north. It is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Gibraltar.
It was the first Islamic kingdom, part of the larger dar-al-Islam, a vast stretch of Islamic countries stretching across the northern part of the African continent. And it remains one of the most culturally diverse Islamic nations, with centuries-old Jewish enclaves.
Within Morocco’s boundaries, simple Berber villages, their ways untouched for hundreds of years, coexist with the most sophisticated Imperial cities. The kingdom is home to the starkly beautiful minimalism of the desert, and the constant bustle of the cosmopolitan medina. The West is here, too, in the legacy of post-colonial French and in more contemporary influences, like the ring of world-class golf courses the country is increasingly known for. In fact, it’s possible, in a city like Fez, to see ancient, medieval and contemporary cultures coexisting side-by-side. Morocco has become a famous holiday destination in the last few years with all countries travelers looking for a new, more adventurous destination.
In the consumer-driven culture of the West, Morocco is often known for the quality of crafts from her souks. These are indeed some of the most remarkable expressions of human creativity, made all the more powerful by the desert that serves as backdrop to their creation.
Yet what is often missed in the West is to see how all of these elements come together: art, architecture, music, cuisine, and craft all blend with history, cultural and social values to profoundly give shape to life in this extraordinary place.
There is certainly no shortage of great attractions in Morocco. The country enjoys a strong sense of culture and a long and ancient history. The cool blue water flowing over the sand of the beaches is a direct contrast with the hot white sands of the desert, while the greens of fertile valleys contrast with the browns and whites of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The country is romantic and mysterious and there is little wonder that Morocco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa.
Morocco is the ideal African starting point for the traveler. An easy hop from Europe, it is hectic but friendly and stimulating as well. Open-air markets throughout the country are piled high with rugs, woodwork, jewellery and leather - said to be the softest in the world.
Agadir is all about the beach. The town is a nice example of modern Moroccan design, but not much in the way of history or culture. Take the local bus for a few cents and go 2 or 3 villages North. The beaches are much better there and there are no burglars at all.
As the result of an earthquake in 1960, Agadir is a completely modern city, which reminded me of towns in Northern Germany. It is also permanently full of tourists, especially German tourists.
It does have excellent luxury hotels, where activities are organized and there is some form of night-life. In addition, there are some beautiful golf courses.
It represents a useful transport hub and an easy point of access if you are coming by plane. Cheap flights from Europe often go to Agadir.
Agadir is also a good place to take daytrips from to the nearby Massa Lagoon and Paradise Valley.
Marrakech is the jewel of the south, one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco, and an important cultural and commercial centre set at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains.
Marrakech is a city of vibrancy and solemnity, souk and square, palace and riad, mosque and garden. It is a city wrapped in faded red, ochre walls, and dominated by the Koutoubia mosque, visible from throughout the city. It is also a crossroads - where ancient Arab culture of the valley and the Berber culture of the mountains meet. At its centre is the deservedly famous Djemaa el Fna - a public space unlike any found in any city in Morocco, or the world. In the evenings, as dusk approaches, the square hums with the activity of musicians, food vendors, storytellers, snake charmers, the curious, and the odd. The spirit in the square is one of mystery, magic and possibility.
The Jma-l-Fna is an unbelievable experience. It is a market scene straight out of the movies with snake charmers, musicians, dancing bears, acrobats and storytellers. Around the square there are numbered stalls that sell very cheap freshly-squeezed orange juice in the morning and afternoon. At night there are tables set up that you can eat at for a very reasonable price. Other sights include the impressive Koutoubia minaret and the Ben Youssef Medersa and the Saadian Dynasty tombs, the ruined 16th-century El Badi Palace the Dar Si Said Museum.
Marrakech is a perfect combination of old and new Morocco. Plan to spend at least a few days wandering the huge maze of souqs and ruins in the medina. The great plaza of Djeema El Fna at dusk is not to be missed.
The completely modern city of Casablanca, Morocco’s industrial centre, bears little resemblance to its famous movie namesake. (No scenes for the famous film were even filmed here!) Like any other major city in the world, Casablanca is filled with bustle and energy, and most flights in and out of Morocco travel through its busy airport. Casablanca is deservedly famous for the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world, and one of the few mosques open to non-Muslims in the country. It is one of Morocco’s most extraordinarily beautiful statements to faith.
This modern city by the sea is a common starting point for visitors flying into the country. If you have the time, both the historical medina and the contemporary mosque (the second largest in the world) are well worth an afternoon.
Any European citizen or traveler will feel immediately at home here and will have an almost instinctive understanding of the life here. There are plenty of hotels in and around Casablanca. Regardless of the size of your budget, you can find a superb place to enjoy a meal in Casablanca. Entertain your wildest holiday fantasies in Casablanca!
Theater in Morocco was established through the determination and passion for theater that lived in the hearts of men like Marun Al Naqquash, Sheikh Abou Khalil Qabbani and Ya'coub Sannu (also referred to as Abou Naddara). These men fought against opposing authorities and criticism to bring a form of art to life that had not yet been experienced in countries such as Morocco. Their example paved the way for theater in Morocco, which is today deeply rooted in the culture of the country.
Marun Al Naqqash started his journey to bring theater to the Arab world in 1848, when he performed in his home, entertaining his audience with a production that was molded on a play named 'Moliere’s L’Avare'. Sheik Abou Khalil Qabbani also tried to establish theater as a form of entertainment, but the authorities in Istanbul eventually closed down his operation. Abou Naddara had traveled to Europe and brought his love for the theater home to Egypt. He wasted no time in establishing a theater company in the hope of bringing theater to the country. Naddara saw theater as a vehicle to educate and express views. His scores, which implicated the government, caught the attention of the authorities who forced him to abandon his theater after two years.
These efforts were noticed by many around the world and it did not take countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria long to establish their own theaters. Shadow Theaters were becoming very popular in Morocco. This form of theater involved a narrator telling the story with accompanying music to evoke emotions. The influence of the Western form of theater only started reaching Morocco many years after the efforts made by Naqqash and Quabbani. Traditionally, theater in Morocco was performed in open air theaters, but slowly progressed with the opening of theatre buildings.
Reworked translations of Shakespeare and others started to reach the Moroccan stage, which was believed to have created a more sophisticated audience. Theaters in Morocco still present the classic reworked productions of love, tragedy, triumph and drama. More recent productions also include unique Moroccan Theater plays that are filled with tradition and culture. Moroccan theater is an unforgettable experience, with the stories recalling the legends of the past and creating a wonderful display of talent, color and entertainment.
The Souss Massa Biological Reserve and the Toubkal Biological reserve are known for their large number of bird species and it is estimated that there are more than 200 different species. Visitors can look forward to seeing Waders, Woodpeckers, Spoonbills, Flamingos and a few of the bird species that are on the endangered list. Egyptian Cobras, Golden Jackals, Red Foxes and Leopards are also found in these reserves. For a rare viewing of Barabary Monkeys, guests should visit the Cedar Forest Wildlife Reserve. The High Atlas region of Morocco has a wonderful variety of elephants, squirrels and colorful butterflies.
Along the desert coast of Morocco, visitors will find Ground Squirrels, Black-Headed Bush Shrikes, Moussier’s Redstarts, Wild Boars, Tiger Blues, Gulls, Ducks, Barbary Falcons, Eagles, Lizards and a multitude of other species. Some of the most breathtaking flowers of Morocco are also found in this region.
Visitors will be able to lose themselves in the great number of different wildlife and bird species in Morocco and will also see why authorities are working so hard to protect the remaining species. The varied landscape of Morocco is home to a spectacular and breathtaking range of wildlife that has become the focal point of conservation