One of Morocco’s most important cultural centres; Marrakech has ochre-coloured ramparts which stand out against a permanently blue sky and snowy Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Plunge into an extraordinary world where there is plenty to see, including palaces, museums and gardens. Place Djemaa el-Fna is a huge square in the medina where jugglers and storytellers jostle for position with snake charmers and magicians. As its sunny almost all year round Marrakech has plenty to offer visitors in terms of activity options including jeep safaris, cultural visits, trips to the Atlas Mountains, camel rides and sand dune quad biking.
Immortalised through the eponymous Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman movie (shot in Hollywood !) and forever associated with honorary citizen Sir Winston Churchill, Casablanca is a sprawling, vibrant metropolis of close to 6.5 million inhabitants, 3.5 million of them living in the city itself. Though not the seat of government, it is Morocco’s undisputed commercial capital, an enigmatic meeting place of western modernity and Arabic tradition. Casablanca (‘Dar el-Beïda’ in Moroccan Arabic, which translates as ‘White House’ in English) or Casa as it is known colloquially, was a tiny Berber settlement that became a home port for privateers, before turning into a trading post with Europe. Then, in the era of the French protectorate at the dawn of the 20th century, it mushroomed into what is today one of Africa’s four largest cities.
Fès (also spelled Fez and in Arabic, Fas) is the third largest city in Morocco, after Casablanca and Rabat. It lies in a valley bordered by the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and on the old crossroads of caravan routes connecting the Saharan empires like Timbuktu with the Atlantic and the Mediterranean shipping lanes.
Its medina is an un mappable maze of more than 9,000 alleys where mules are the only form of transport and life is a fascinating blend of medieval and modern. A far reaching conservation campaign has been attempting to preserve and interpret the remarkable historic legacy, with new uses being sought for fabulous old palaces, many of which are being restored by both Moroccan and foreign families.
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco, home to the grand palace of the king of Morocco. It is one of the country’s most modern cities, with wide streets and well-maintained gardens. It has a quieter and more serious atmosphere than some of Morocco’s other cities. However, Rabat is also a city steeped in history. It traces its origins to the seventh century, and the Kasbah and Medina sections will transport you back to the city’s medieval heyday. A world class golf course, fine restaurants and beaches are nearby, making it easy to mix history with pleasure.
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