Current Issue #478

City-hopping through colourful and historic Morocco

City-hopping through colourful and historic Morocco

Perched on the continent’s north-west tip, Morocco has long served as a gateway between Africa and Europe, making the region a hotbed of trade, migration and overlapping cultures.

Although Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman might never have actually set foot in the city, the 1942 film of the same name helped embed Casablanca’s place in western popular culture as a site of rich culture and a more than a little intrigue. Unsurprisingly, the reality runs far deeper. Most tours of Morocco begin with this iconic city, where the 60-storey high minaret of grand Hassan II Mosque offers a striking example of modern Islamic architecture (and Africa’s largest mosque). Across the city you can visit the Museum of Judaism and the Villa des Arts, a 1934 art deco villa transformed into a museum of art and culture.

Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque (Photo: Shutterstock)
Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque (Photo: Shutterstock)

From Casablanca, the capital of Rabat offers a trip through the region’s deep history from Roman settlements to 10th century Arab monuments. A popular location for Hollywood films, the streets of Rabat have provided the backdrop for a variety of recent box office hits from John Wick 3 to Men In Black: International. The experience continues with the 11th century imperial city of Meknes, an UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers an immersive experience of medieval Islamic architecture.

Historic tanneries of Fez (Photo: Shutterstock)
Historic tanneries of Fez (Photo: Shutterstock)

Nicknamed the ‘blue pearl’, explanations for the ubiquitous blue walls of Chefchaouen vary, but with a long tradition of refugee resettlement the city is another example of Morocco’s simmering melting pot of cultural influences. And, at the very least, it will make for some excellent Instagram posts. All of which lays the groundwork to truly appreciate Fes, the country’s second largest city and a favourite for many visitors with its 9th century University of Al Quaraouiyine and 13th century Medina, a well-preserved slice of medieval Islamic life in the region. Rivalling Fes’ Medina is Marrakech’s own World Heritage-listed historic precinct, that serves as a gateway to memorable markets and cultural destinations including the vividly-decorated Museum of Islamic Art, Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and a wide variety of significant mosques and tombs.

Spices sold in the souks of Marrakech (Photo: Shutterstock)
Spices sold in the souks of Marrakech (Photo: Shutterstock)

But while Morocco’s cities can be breathtaking, to appreciate the full breadth of the country requires a detour to less populated areas, amply achieved with a trip to the Saharan village of Merzouga among the orange sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, which are best enjoyed at sunset – perhaps from the hump of a camel.

Whether you’re after an all encompassing small group tour, an adventure for the whole family or a foodie’s treat there’s an Intrepid small group tour in Morocco for you. View the full range of tours her and contact the team at Peregrine Travel Centre SA to let them help you plan the perfect Moroccan escape.

Sponsored by Peregrine Travel Centre SA

Header image:
Chefchaouen (Photo: Shutterstock)

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