Marrakesh is possibly the most important of Morocco’s four former imperial cities (cities that were built by Moroccan Berber empires). Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls (the medina), bordered by modern neighborhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. The Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the best-known squares in Africa and is the centre of city activity and trade. It has been described as a “world-famous square”, “a metaphorical urban icon, a bridge between the past and the present, the place where (spectacularized) Moroccan tradition encounters modernity.” It has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. Marrakesh has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and the image of the city is closely associated with its souks. Paul Sullivan cites the souks as the principal shopping attraction in the city. The Menara gardens are located to the west of the city, at the gates of the Atlas mountains.
MOST VISITED PLACES IN MOROCCO
Marrakech and Fes cultural city
Essaouira on Atlantic coast
Sahara desert in Merzouga
Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate
Dades Gorges and Todra Gorges
FES CULTURAL CITY
Fez was the capital of modern Morocco until 1925, and is now the capital of the Fès-Meknès administrative region. The city has two old medina quarters, the larger of which is Fes el Bali. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest car-free urban areas. Located by the Atlas Mountains, Fez has a Mediterranean climate with a strong continental influence, shifting from cold and rain in the winter to dry and hot days in the summer months between June and September. The University of al-Karaouine or al-Qarawiyyin is the oldest continually operating university in the world.
Essaouira’s climate is Mediterranean with oceanic influence. The Medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, an example of a late 18th-century fortified town, as transferred to North Africa by European colonists. The medina is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, notably cabinet making and ‘thuya’ wood-carving (using roots of the Tetraclinis tree), both of which have been practised in Essaouira for centuries.
The leading Moroccan companies and international corporations doing business there have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. The French period Ville Nouvelle (New Town) of Casablanca was designed by the French architect Henri Prost, and was a model of a new town at that time. The main streets radiate south and east from Place des Nations Unies, previously the main market of Anfa. Former administrative buildings and modern hotels populate the area. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Moorish and Art Deco. Several shopping centers are in Casablanca, of which the largest is Morocco Mall. It is the largest shopping center in Africa with 250,000 m2 .
DADES AND TODRA GORGES
Dadès Gorges is a gorge of the Dadès River and lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Jbel Saghro of the Anti-Atlas mountain range, in Morocco. Berbers built many kasbahs in vicinity of gorges with defence purposes. These many kasbahs together with the natural beauty of the place have contributed to make it a tourist attraction in recent years.Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tinerhir. Both the Todgha and neighbouring Dades Rivers have carved out cliff-sided canyons on their final 40 kilometres through the mountains. The last 600 metres of the Todgha gorge are the most spectacular. Here the canyon narrows to a flat stony track, in places as little as 10 metres wide, with sheer and smooth rock walls up to 160 metres high on each side.
AIT BENHADDOU AND OUARZAZATTE
Aït Benhaddou is a fortified city, or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most citizens living in the area now live in more modern dwellings in a nearby village, although there are 4 families still living in the ancient city. This giant fortification, which is made up of six Kasbahs and nearly fifty ksars which are individual Kasbahs, is a great example of earthen clay architecture. Which is also use in Moroccan architecture. Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and several films have been shot there.Ouarzazate is nicknamed The door of the desert, is at an elevation of 1,160 metres (3,810 ft) in the middle of a bare plateau south of the High Atlas Mountains. To the south of the town is the desert. The Ouarzazate area is a noted film-making location, with Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international companies to work here. Films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Kundun (1997), Legionnaire (1998), Hanna (2011), and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) were shot here, as was part of the TV series Game of Thrones.Atlas Studios is one of the largest movie studios in the world, in terms of land area. Several historical movies were shot here, including The Living Daylights, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Kingdom of Heaven and Babel. It was also the location of an episode of the television series The Amazing Race 10 and Game of thrones: Season 3.
Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan. The city was founded in 1471, as a small fortress which still exists to this day, by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami (a descendant of Ibn Machich and Idris I, and through them, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco.Chefchaouen is a popular shopping destination as well, as it offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The goat cheese native to the area is also popular with tourists.
The Sahara is the largest hot desert and third largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic worldwide. The dunes of Erg Chebbi reach a height of up to 150 meters in places and altogether spans an area of 50 kilometers from north to south and up to 5–10 kilometers from east to west lining the Algerian border. During the warmest part of the year, Moroccans come to Erg Chebbi to be buried neck-deep in the hot sand for a few minutes at a time. This is considered to be a treatment for rheumatism. Erg Chebbi is one of Morocco’s two Saharan ergs – large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. The other is Erg Chigaga near M’hamid.