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Places to visit in Morocco
Why visit Morocco?
Tangiers, gateway to the new high-speed train route that links the first port after Europe to the Atlas Mountain heartlands, has always been an entry point for visitors and riding the train south reveals just how successful agriculture has become: the surprisingly green irrigated patchwork of the north of Morocco bears witness to a country on the move. Intrinsic to the future success of the nation is tourism.
Whilst trekking in the raw idyllic beauty of the High Atlas and climbing Mount Toubkal’s 4,167m is a growing trend, it is the historic cities which truly shine as draws to visitors. Casablanca, or Casa to its friends, is nowadays a thriving Atlantic port-city of 3 million has incredible diversity: the colossal Hassan II mosque, largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia, boasts dazzlingly polished ornate tiles which lead to the world’s tallest minaret and a prayer room with a glass floor above the brooding ocean where 25,000 can pray simultaneously; in the municipal heart of the city, a cornucopia of delights will overwhelm your senses, from the beautiful Art Deco colonial edifices and grandly carved stone frontage of the King’s Palace to the elegantly laid out formal gardens of Place Mohammed V; the new Medina, or Habous Quarter is a classic melting pot of souks and tea houses, whilst the old Medina, encircled by 16km of historic city walls is a place to simply wander and drink in, amidst its shady, winding streets and warm welcomes; a short wander to its shores will reveal La Corniche, the trendy waterfront, the Royal Moroccan navy base and a delightful promenade.
In contrast, Marrakesh, sitting regally in the Middle Atlas Range, taps into a timelessness which is entirely seductive. The celebrated 14th century Madrasa of Ben Youssef is an exquisitely ornate complex of prayer halls, monastic cells and cooling marble courtyards whilst a foray into the Medina of Old Marrakesh reveals treasures such as the beautiful Bahia Palace and the opulent home of the Saadian tombs, marking the flowering of the local culture in the 16th century.
After strolling through the sensory explosion which is the Jemaa el Fna Square with its beguiling music and dance, snake charmers and kaleidoscopically colourful vendors, choose a trip to the cleansing steam-rooms, saunas and baths of one of the city’s hammams, treat yourself to some of the bountiful array of tagines, stews and sweet desserts which define Moroccan cuisine, or simply wile the hours away with locals over a drink of mint tea, providing the perfect culmination to days spent in this glorious melee of cultural wonders.
The ancient cultural hotspot of Fes, Meknes’ hill-top imperial pomp, the incomparable oasis gem of Ouarzazate, the blue city of Chefchaouen, and so the list of wonders here builds with seemingly no end. The perfect springboard to delve deeper into West Africa, Morocco itself first offers pace and languid contemplation, compelling intricacy and endless expanses of Saharan sands, historic enlightenment and contemporary grandeur, all in equal measure. Let us help you pick and choose just how.