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As you tour Morocco with us you will discover that Morocco’s cities are quite simply stunning and much of the country’s intriguing culture can be seen here. They all have an ancient walled Arabic area called a medina as well as a new town or ville nouvelle. These amazing walled cities of Morocco hold a magical fascination and are crammed full of ancient architecture and culture.

The Imperial Cities are the four historic capitals – Marrakech, Fes, Meknes and the current capital, Rabat.

Casablanca

This sprawling city, the largest in the Maghreb, is not one that most tourists stay in for long. It lacks the exotic charm of many of Morocco’s other cities but has huge importance and is definitely looking to the future.

The city is a victim of its own success as its rapid expansion still attracts the rural poor searching for the opportunity of a better life but often getting no further than the bidonville or huge shanty towns.

Casa, as it is known, also boasts North Africa’s largest port, home of the Moroccan Navy but its true treasure is the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world.  The build statistics of this stunningly beautiful building are absolutely incredible and, as one of the few Moroccan mosques non-Muslims are allowed into, it definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Beyond simply impressive it needs to be seen to be believed.

Fes

Morocco’s oldest city.

Fes is the world’s largest, intact medieval city and home to thousands of traditional craftsmen.The medina was originally built in the 9th century and consists of a network of narrow, twisting and utterly confusing alleys barely wide enough for a donkey. 100,000 people live inside the medina and many have never been outside of the walls.

Fes was a centre for culture and learning housing the oldest university in the world and it was the demand for book leather that resulted in what is now the oldest leather tannery in the world dating back nine centuries. With a sprig of herbs held to the nose to ward off the sometimes overpowering smell, you can stand on the balcony overlooking a site like no other. The many stone vessels contain a vast range of natural dyes. The process turns the animal hides into the highest quality leather products you will ever see.

Fes is the spiritual centre of Morocco and is somehow suspended in time existing quite happily with or without tourists. There is something very powerful about this fascinating city.

Marrakech

The name Marrakech means Land of God.

Famous throughout the world for its souks, square and pinky-red buildings, Marrakesh nestles at the base of the spectacular High Atlas Mountain range. This mystical city pulsates with life and manages to be bohemian, cultured, traditional, magical and romantic.

In the main square Jma el Fnaa, exotic wares, snake charmers and musicians line the streets as you’re tantalised by the most vibrant array of colours and scents to be found anywhere. Escape the grey skies of home for this rose-tinted city where the beauty is in the detail. Choose from a number of beautiful gardens to escape the hustle and bustle for a while and stay in a riad where you can escape the hustle and enjoy the sights from a roof-top garden oasis.

The medina takes you right back to the middle ages and is made up of many areas. The central area around the Ben Youssef Mosque has an impressive collection of museums, madrassas and historic attractions showcasing art and cultural artefacts, photos and rare video footage, kaftans and even perfumes of Morocco. The oldest building in Marrakech, the Almoravid Kouba features some of the most remarkable architectural decoration in the whole of the Islamic world.

There is also the Moukef which is a gathering place of workers for hire. The Polishers Street is where vendors bring items to be polished, the Souika is full of fruit and veg, Souk Leghzel sells baskets, spices and herbs.

A year-round destination and great starting point for a number of day trips or longer excursions, Marrakech has so much to offer. Its traditional, modern mix is captivating and entertaining. Our advice would be to spend a couple of days here at the beginning or end of your holiday and experience the “Real Morocco” on a tour or desert tour with us.

Intoxicating and chaotic – a people watchers paradise.

Meknes

17th Century Spanish-Moorish City

The ancient imperial city of Meknes is otherwise known as the Versailles of Morocco. This is a city of fortified walls and gates created by the tyrannical Moulay Ismail, steeped in folklore and culture.

The fifth largest city in Morocco, Meknes has a dynamic economy thriving on olives, wine and mint tea. With its beautiful gates, ramparts, mosques and palaces, the city has charm and style and is surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Meknes is historically important and contains some wonderfully grand Moorish architecture and on its doorstep sits the most important archaeological site in Morocco – the city of Volubilis – a partly excavated Roman city, developed from the 3rd century as a Phoenician settlement.

Now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire”. Most of the structures are in impressive condition with a beauty not dimmed by time.

Rabat

Modern Capital and historic city.

The modern part of the city is Africa’s most ambitious urban development. Rabat has a distinctive style characteristic of contemporary Morocco and demonstrates an innovative approach to city planning. The influence of the cultural history of Rabat is evident in the architecture.

There is a tangible European feel with a new tram system and redeveloped marina. Carry on up the hill and you move back in time with the remains of the old Roman city and medieval tombs still partially visible. On the opposite side of town you will discover impressive Art Deco architecture with wide tree lined avenues and the partially built Hassan Tower of 1196. This is next door to the Mausoleum of King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah, which is guarded by traditionally dressed soldiers.

The souks are a much gentler experience than in Marrakech. In fact Rabat is a gem of a city and its charm lies in its silence. There is a lot to shout about here – but no-one does.

Taroudant

A small walled city, this Berber market town has excellently preserved town walls. This is well off the beaten track and has few tourists and a lovely warm winter climate .

Here you will get a truly authentic experience and relaxed atmosphere with diverse scenery. The two souks are hassle free and full of interesting products and low prices. Particular good buys are jewellery and carpets.

The ramparts of the town are six km long with numerous intact gates all of which can be seen from a horse drawn carriage ride.

Surrounded by the Atlas mountains, this is a good base for trekking.

So Morocco Ltd support Jarjeer Mules Donkey Orphanage, Morocco and pledge to donate £15 from every booking taken in 2018 directly to this foundation. (The Machin Foundation)