Separated from Europe only by the bottleneck of the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco is the East, in a nutshell, tales of 1001 nights told in one day, exotic. It is not surprising that this country attracts more and more tourists every year. What is worth visiting in Morocco?
Agadir is a mecca for vacationers
The mecca for Moroccan vacationers is undoubtedly Agadir — one of the most popular beach resorts in the world, and certainly in this part of Africa. Thanks to 300 sunny days a year, location on the shore of the bay, protected from winds and other weather vagaries, a 6-kilometer beach, and excellent infrastructure, Agadir attracts crowds of tourists all year round — according to statistics, Agadir is the second most visited city in Morocco after Marrakech.
The history of Agadir as a resort is quite unusual — the city, once known only for its small fishing port, was destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1960. The surviving residents decided to restore it as a modern tourist resort. As a result, the almost complete absence of monuments in the city is compensated by the interesting surroundings, the Sousse-Massa National Park, and the proximity to the Sahara.
Agadir has everything you need for a relaxing or more leisurely beach holiday — numerous bars and cafes, camel riding, surfboard rental. It is worth allocating at least one day from your vacation to travel to the nearby Paradise Valley and visit any of the Berber villages.
Moroccan cities are a topic for a separate trip. Legendary Casablanca, Eastern Marrakech, European Rabat, medieval Fez. And these are just some of the destinations worth visiting.
The city that is most associated with Morocco is, of course, Casablanca, made famous by the famous Humphrey Bogart movie, which for some is also the biggest disappointment of a trip to Morocco. Locals affectionately call it “Casa”, but in fact, it looks more like a huge Southern European metropolis than a mythical city from the movie. It is not much interesting here, and none of the scenes of the cult film were filmed here.
Despite all this, Casablanca is worth a visit to see its greatest (in the literal sense of the word) landmark — the monumental mosque of Hassan II, which has no equal in the entire Arab world. Built on an artificial island, with a glass floor in some places and a sliding roof (!), it is the second-largest mosque in the world — right after the temple in Mecca. They say that even St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican could easily fit inside a mosque! The 210-meter-high minaret belonging to the building is the tallest religious structure in the world. When darkness falls, a laser beam is directed from the top of the temple towards Mecca.
The most popular destination among travelers who want to get a taste of the East is southern Marrakech. It is here that the most famous square of the Arab world, Djemaa el-Fna (Djemaa al-Fina), is located, where you can still find all the relics of Moroccan culture: snake charmers, storytellers, dancers, musicians, magicians, jugglers. To get to know the real Morocco, you can spend the whole day without leaving this square and watching the life going on here, sipping freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning, and in the evening tasting local cuisine in one of the open-air eateries.
Those who are looking for a city less saturated with tourists will surely be fascinated by Fez, known as the “spiritual capital of Morocco”. The UNESCO-listed Medina of Fez is known as the largest and most beautiful in the entire Arab world. A walk through the maze of narrow streets and alleys gives the impression, not without reason, that you have been transported to the past — Fez is the best-preserved medieval city in the entire Arab world.
The Moroccan capital, Rabat, is much more European and modern than other cities, but without the rush, traffic jams, and crowds so characteristic of the much larger Casablanca. There is a beautiful new part of the city, Ville-Nouvelle, built by the French. The Medina is not as impressive as Fez or Marrakech, and the Kaaba, a fortress located on a hill, has no equal anywhere in the area. Another unique monument is the Shell Citadel, which resembles an ornithological reserve, where countless storks and herons live among the ruins and greenery.
The Moroccan south, the climate of perpetual drought, inaccessibility, and wildlife — this is the desert. Once caravans with salt, gold, and slaves passed through here, and today these places are visited by hired cars and camels, adventurer tourists, and Berbers and Arabs living in the surrounding villages. Berbers and Arabs lived in the surrounding villages. However, the Sahara is still shrouded in a fog of mystery and an atmosphere of inaccessibility.
To see the desert as we associate it with films and photographs, it is worth going to Erg Shabby – a camel ride through the vast territory of dunes, preferably at sunset, can become one of the best memories that we will bring from Morocco. For our understanding of the desert to be complete, in this area, we should not miss the opportunity to visit the oasis (the most beautiful is located in the Dara Valley) and see the most postcard elements of the desert landscape — ksar (fortified village) and kazba (desert castle).
Perhaps no one will miss a visit to the city of Urzazat, known as the “gateway to the Sahara”, but it will become a real holiday for movie lovers — it was here that the Atlas film studio was created, where many famous productions with a desert climate in the background were filmed.
Wild peaks of the Atlas Mountains
The High Atlas Mountains, the highest mountain range in North Africa, stretching for almost 1,000 kilometers, proudly rise above Morocco and divide the country into two parts. To this day, Berber tribes live on the slopes, leading a traditional way of life, and the almost complete lack of infrastructure makes the mountains semi-wild. An expedition to one of the peaks is a real mountain challenge: perfect preparation is needed, some routes require several days, and you cannot do without your hiking equipment and provisions. You may decide to hire a local guide.
It is worth hiring a local guide and a mule to transport equipment — this solution will help you avoid the biggest risk, namely getting lost on the way to the top. The most courageous are waiting for the highest mountain in North Africa — Jabal Toubkal with a height of 4167 meters. Those who crave adrenaline can try not only rock climbing but also canoeing and rafting.
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