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Morocco Travel Guide - Home

A brief introduction to magical Morocco and its culture

View of Marrakech
Sky over Marrakech CC BY-NC 2.0 Elvin

Sitting on the northwestern tip of Africa, Morocco is a unique location and is, in many ways, a country apart from the rest of the continent. This exotic destination is separated from other African countries by the stunning and beautiful Atlas Mountains and the endless sands of the Sahara desert, with lush valleys and fascinating cities in between.

If planning a visit to this country, Lawrence of Morocco offers great tailor-made trips, planned down to the finest detail and the following gives you a brief introduction into how the mixed and exciting culture of Morocco came to be.

Culture Mix of Morocco

Morocco has more of a feel of the Mediterranean countries than it does Africa or the Middle East and its cities are a fascinating mix of the classic old traditions and more modern times.  On the Mediterranean coast, visitors can enjoy the fine sandy beaches and warmer ocean, while in the north beautiful, green highland valleys await and in the south, stark landscapes of the Atlas mountains loom over the terrain, while the sands of the Sahara stretch across the horizon.  The Atlantic coast offers more sandy beaches and cooler water but no less fascinating cities to visit.
 
Desert of Morocco
Desert Landscape in Merzouga, Morocco CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  Antonio Cinotti

The culture of Morocco is also a mix, emanating from the various peoples who have lived there over the centuries.  Originally inhabited by the wandering Berbers, Morocco saw the Romans taking over in 146 BC and Roman ruins can still be visited today in Volubilis.
As Rome went into a decline, the Vandals, an East Germanic group of tribes, moved in. In the 7th century, Morocco was taken by the Arabs. While the latter ruled the country for only just over a century, the culture of Islam has remained as a permanent feature in Moroccan culture. 

From then onwards several different dynasties came into power, followed by the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th century, shortly after they successfully removed the Moors from their own lands.  In each case, Morocco did manage to successfully keep its heritage but European imperialism continued into the 19th century.

It was France’s turn next as in 1911 the French became protector of the majority of the country, while Spain managed to hang on to a few isolated portions of Morocco. Finally, in 1953, French rule was over, although its influence can still be felt today and many people in Morocco still speak the French language. Nowadays Morocco is a kingdom ruled by King Mohammed VI, who has brought the country to a level of economic prosperity and long-term stability.

All the various nationalities that have been a part of the country’s past can still be felt today in the imperial cities of Morocco.  The following is a brief introduction into three of the major cities, all worthwhile visiting.

The royal city of Rabat

Downtown Rabat
Downtown Rabat CC by-SA 3.0 farm1

The political capital is Rabat, which is situated on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.  A mix of modern capital with historic city, Rabat’s is listed as a World Heritage site. The Medina is the older part of the city. The new town is among the largest and most ambitious urban projects in Africa and includes the royal and administrative areas of the city along with commercial developments and the lovely Jardins d’Essais botanical gardens.

Charming Casablanca

Casablanca boulevard
Boulevard du Lido Casablanca CC by-SA 3.0 Othmanlah

Morocco’s largest city is Casablanca, which also nestles on the Atlantic coast. The city is Morocco’s chief port and industrial center. Main sites worth a visit are the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) from the French period.  In this area, modern hotels and administrative buildings can be seen, all built in a combination style of Art Deco and Hispano-Mauresque. On the Atlantic promontory, the Hassan II Mosque stands proudly. The mosque has the world’s tallest minaret, at 210 metres. 

The city’s largest public park is Parc de la Ligue Arabe, a restful and leafy area, great for a stroll, and close by can be seen the Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur, or Casablanca Cathedral, a great example of Mauresque architecture.  For a modern shopping experience, the Casablanca Marina is worth a visit.

Marvellous Marrakech

Souk in Marrakech
Souk in Marrakech CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Marc

Located to the north, up in the Atlas mountain foothills, lovely Marrakech is a place of fascination. Marrakech is probably the most important of the four former imperial Moroccan cities (built by the Berber empires). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Marrakech became somewhat of a “hippie mecca” and that vibe can still be felt today in certain parts of the city. 

A myriad of palaces, museums and mosques await in the city, each with evidence of past history. As with all the Moroccan cities, the old fortified city (the Medina) offers many vendors selling their wares and on top of this, Marrakech has 18 souks, where thousands of people make and sell copperware, leather, pottery and other craftwork.

In conclusion, Morocco is a great destination for a vacation or holiday with much to offer for all tastes and budgets.  Here you can eat, drink and shop until you drop, all the while taking photos to treasure for a lifetime.

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