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Like Castles in the Sand: Essaouira, Morocco

Like Castles in the Sand: Essaouira, Morocco

If you thought that Morocco was only a place for camels and sand, you must not have heard about Essaouira. This wind and kite surfer’s paradise is only one place you should stop during your trip in Morocco. For many addicted to this pristine beach town, it is their only stop!

There is a story that goes around Essaouira, Morocco, about how the ruins of former forts and castles on the beach were the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’s famous song “Castles in the Sand.” Whether or not this story is true is highly debatable, but Jimi Hendrix was a big fan of the town of Essaouira, which he visited in the sixties during his travels of Morocco, prior to the arrival of another great music legend: Bob Marley. The citizens of the town remember both visits fondly, and celebrate both occurrences in Essaouira to this day with various music festivals throughout the year. The Wailers, the former group of Bob Marley, performed in Essaouira during the 2004 festival.

Jimi Hendrix was a big fan of the town of Essaouira, which he visited in the sixties during his travels of Morocco, prior to the arrival of another great music legend: Bob Marley

Essaouira is increasingly becoming seen as a regular tourist destination, but the small town still has a wonderful sense of the past, its place in the past, and its surroundings. Essaouira is certainly not as much of a “tourist trap” as say Marrakesh, and the town is a great place to look for local crafts, or to take a more relaxed pace in the middle of a multi-day or multi-week Moroccan tour. If you like hand crafts, the woodwork in Essaouira is famous as being one of the oldest artistic forms that has thrived in the town. Thuja wood is often used, and the town is considered the main center for wood carving and wood carvers in all of Morocco.

If handcrafts and local markets aren’t your thing, Essaouira is a port town that still brags of battlements and walls from a time when these things were actually necessary for defense. Although no longer in use, these leftover pieces of architecture allow fantastic views of the beaches and the sea that should not be missed on any Morocco itinerary. Essaouira is one of the calmest and most laid back tourist stops you may find while traveling through Morocco, and for many on an extended trip Essaouira is the perfect stop for several days or even a week to rest. While there are hotels available, there are also camp sites not far from the beach, depending on what your taste is.

As far as what there is to occupy your time in Essaouira, almost all the activities eventually come back to the beach. Essaouira has a long and beautiful beach, and since this is a port town, it goes without saying that this may be the best place during a Moroccan tour to get really fantastic sea food. The beach is not surprising considering that the Essaouira has often been referred to as the “jewel of the Atlantic.”

For the type of tourist activity that will get people’s attention back home, there are camel tours on the beach, and if you would like to venture inland to see the desert as part of your Moroccan adventures, they will guide you there, as well.

The other famous aspect of the beach is wind surfing. The winds blow in towards Essaouira constantly, and make the area a destination for wind surfers that is known world wide. If catching the waves is your sort of vacation, then Essaouira may very well be your favorite stop in all of Morocco! And of course, don’t forget the ruins of old castles and fortifications on the beach, that local legends still tie to the famous Jimi Hendrix song.

Rest and relaxation, or wind surfing and trekking. For either type of tourist, Essaouira has plenty to offer, and should be a mandatory stop on any tours of Morocco travel.

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Trekking Around Berkane and Saidia

Trekking Around Berkane and Saidia

Traveling to Morocco presents you with a number of different tours to take advantage of.  While planning your trip, you might consider what you are hoping for in a Morocco vacation or holiday. Here, we’ll talk about our active itineraries. Some questions we might ask you before venturing to Morocco include: Are you going trekking?  How long do you want to trek for each day?  Do you want to see forests or mountain summits? And, how many hours per day is right for you? You see, Morocco is full of all kinds of varied landscapes and topography. It’s best to have an idea of what and where you’d like to trek before going on a Morocco holiday.

The Rif Mountains are one of the most popular destinations in Morocco because they border the coastline near Chefchaouen.  You are able to visit the mountains while spending some of your days lying on a beach.  Two top cities in the Rifs are Nador and Oujda.  You can travel along the road between these two cities visiting various sites, getting some nice hikes in all along the way.

Taking a detour into Berkane–the birthplace of world famous and gold medalist miler Hicham El Guerrouj–will bring you to the Zegzel Gorge.  This gorge is built from limestone.  It’s not just any type of limestone, but a dark limestone that lies on a fault.  This fault is part of the Beni Snassen Mountains, which branch from the Rifs.  From Berkane you are able to reach Saidia which is a seaside resort town.  In the town you can enjoy many restaurants, beaches, and culture after you have trekked around the Rif Mountains.

Berkane is a small market town that sits just outside of the gorge.  There are orchards and vineyards creating some excellent wine for you to enjoy.  Hotels are also located in Berkane if you wish to spend the day there before moving on to Saidia.

Part of the gorge you will be trekking in Morocco is the Oued Zegzel, which formed due to the Moulouoya tributary.  The tributary runs south along Berkane and used to act as a limit for the Shereefian Empire.  If you are walking along this path it will be quite steep, but you may also travel to the trails in the gorge by car.

Before you reach the gorge on your custom Morocco holidays, Taforalt will await you.  Taforalt is a smaller village in the Rif Mountains.  It is a gearing up point for the trek to the gorge and Grotte du Chameau.  The Grotte du Chameau is a local cave of the area with quite a history.

You will hike 10 kilometers from Taforalt to reach the cavern which is filled with stalactites.  Many of them look remarkably like camels, which is how the cave got its name.  There are a number of different tunnels which lead off from the main cavern. These tunnels are largely unexplored, providing you with places to see that are not filled with tourists.  You should have your tour operator book a tour guide with you, though, if you are going to travel off the usual path for a visit.

Once through the cavern there is a picnic area for lunch.  You will be able to sit underneath the limestone buttresses surrounded by cedar trees before trekking through the rest of the gorge which is just beyond the cave formation. Walks, treks, day to multi day hikes await these largely unexplored areas of Morocco.

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Saïdia Tourism

Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion Group, the leading institutional investor in Morocco, and Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group, the European leader in local tourism and leisure activities, have signed a strategic partnership aimed at accompanying the development of major tourism resorts in Morocco, as planned under the Vision 2020 framework and based on two shared convictions:

- The development of Resorts and Tourism Residences integrating a comprehensive range of leisure activities provides clear value added in terms of tourism appeal, as a complement to hotel offerings.
- The high growth potential of Morocco generated by the development of Family and Leisure Resorts meets considerable demand from both national and international clients.
In addition to the Resort currently being developed in Marrakech, the two groups have decided to extend the scope of their partnership to other sites in the country, namely Taghazout and Saïdia.


The Saïdia resort located in the north-east of Morocco on the Mediterranean coast, currently has three five-star hotels, tourism residences, an 18-hole golf course, a Marina and a shopping centre.
In the Saïdia resort, the CDG/Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs partnership concerns a Pierre & Vacances village with 400 units due to be built in synergy and as a complement to other components and facilities at the heart of the station including a water park, a leisure park and a conference centre, which are to be developed in parallel by the CDG subsidiary, Société de Développement de Saïdia (SDS).

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Day Trips from Rabat

Day Trips from Rabat

While Rabat, Morocco, has not necessarily established itself as a major tourist destination, this pleasant metropolitan city is a great home base for exploring Morocco’s more modern sites. Morocco’s capital city lacks the hustle and bustle of other Moroccan cities, making it a great place to stay for families traveling with children. Rabat’s medina is rather quiet yet authentic so you take your young ones shopping in the souks without too much worry about losing them in the crowds

There are plenty of sites to see in Rabat like the ancient city of Sale Colonia and Rabat’s most famous landmark, Le Tour Hassan, plus there are many popular historical sites within an easy traveling distance from Rabat.

Once you’ve explored Rabat, consider taking several day trips to one of these neighboring sites to get more of a feel for Moroccan culture.

Located within an easy hour’s drive from Rabat, Casablanca is one of Morocco’s favorite tourist destinations. Inspired by French colonialism, Casablanca is more modern and more open to Western ways than other places in Morocco. Take a walking tour through the Marche Central and spend the afternoon sipping tea at one of Casablanca’s many hip cafes. Make sure to explore the old city’s medina, the newly gentrified shopping district of Quartier Harbous and the Hassan II Mosque—the fifth largest mosque in the world.

On the way to Casablanca, you can stop off at one of the beautiful beaches that line the Atlantic Coast. Bouznika is one of the trendiest beach towns located between the two cities, complete with luxurious golf resorts. Bouznika is also a popular surf spot, especially in the winter when the surf is especially consistent.

Rabat’s neighboring city of Sale is a fun place to explore. With winding streets, narrow alleyways and old medina houses, Sale looks more like a traditional Moroccan village than a literal suburb of the modern Rabat. Conservative dress is more appropriate in Sale compared to the other cities near Rabat, so if you don’t want to stand out in Sale, dress more conservatively and avoid wearing short skirts or tank tops.

Just eight miles southwest of Rabat is the peaceful seaside town of Temera. The Temera Plage is a long coastal area divided up into many sandy beaches perfect for both surfing and sunbathing. You can also visit Termera’s Grand Mosque and the many quaint markets you will find around town. Great for children, the Temera National Zoological Park houses hundreds of species of birds and many mammals like elephants, lions and gazelles.

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 Saidia was barely a dot on the tourist map. This small coastal town between the Algerian border and Spanish Melilla is in the process of being transformed into one of the Mediterranean’s most visited beach resorts. The grand vision includes development plans for five full-scale seaside resorts, Saidia being one of the first.

While on package holiday to Morocco, the day is best started in Saidia with a sunrise breakfast, deep sea fishing in the nearby bay Cap de l’Eau, or a lazy morning sleep-in followed by a stroll on the eight-mile stretch of white sand beach. In this seaside town, activities are mostly focused on the sand and sea. You can spend your morning exploring dive wrecks, taking a sailing lesson or soaking up the Mediterranean rays. If you happen be in Saidia during June, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the annual sailing regatta.

A laid-back lunch could be taking a picnic on the beach or dining at one of the many restaurants at the 160-venue Medina Saidia commercial area. Built in the style of a traditional Moroccan city, Medina Saidia is a pedestrian area lined with shops, outlets and restaurants. There you’ll also find Marjane supermarket where you can stock up on snacks, drinks or groceries if you plan to cook and eat in or host your own barbecue at your rented condo or beach house.

If you’d like to spend your afternoon off the beach, consider exploring the town’s restored 16th-century Kasbah, visiting the bird preserve bordering Saidia or playing a round of golf on one of the three 18-hole courses. Golf lessons are also available. Take a day trip to the urban center of Oujda where you can shop Moroccan fashions, walk the tree-lined promenade or browse local music at the CD shops. Oujda is a place where you can feel the hustle and bustle of Moroccan markets, sample local cuisine and attend live musical performances.

In the evening, take a sunset promenade to ogle at the private yachts at Saidia’s 850-mooring marina, relax at one of the luxury clubhouses or listen to classical Berber music at a beachfront hotel. If you visit in August, you may be able to catch Saidia’s annual summer music festival, which you can read more about on our Morocco blog using the search feature..

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The property is inside Mediterranean Saidia Urbanization. Apartment of 97 m2 with air condicioned, 2 bethrooms, 2 bathrooms and fully equiped kitchen. It has a terrace of 18m2 and a private garden (30 m2). There are two commun swiming pools, and big community gardens.

There are also 3 golf courses, a Marine and a commercial Medina with stores, restaurants, ...

ituado al noreste de Marruecos, en la costa Mediterránea, Saïdia es conocida como la perla azul de la costa mediterránea marroquí. Es un área con una gran belleza natural, y la ciudad es conocida por sus enormes y bellas playas de arena blanca. Saïdia tiene una gran tradición turística en la Costa Mediterránea de Marruecos.  Las maravillosas playas situadas en la costa de Saïdia, hacen de Mediterrania Saïdia un lugar ideal para alquilar un apartamento o villa para sus vacaciones.

El complejo Mediterrania Saida ofrece un enclave estratégico para realizar distintas excursiones por el país. Melillia está solo a una hora y media en coche.

Mediterrania Saïdia está especialmente diseñado para los amantes del golf ya que actualmente cuenta con 1 campo de golf de 18 hoyos, El Palmeral que esta justo al lado de la urbanizacion AP6 donde esta ubicado el apartamento.

Su puerto deportivo es uno de los mas grandes y lujosos del Mar Mediterráneo.

También hay un área dentro del complejo que se compone de restaurantes, tiendas, bares, discotecas, bancos,…..

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Moroccan Architectural Patterns

Moroccan Architectural Patterns

Still, sleek, modern designs are being constructed in cities like Rabat and Casablanca that give no particular homage to any of the past Moroccan architecture,Geometric patterns are also commonly found in the architecture of Morocco. Noteworthy buildings to visit while in Morocco would include the Royal Palace.

Moroccan Shapes, Colours, and Designs
Untitled Export5 1024x640 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
One of the reasons I wanted to visit Morocco was because of its incredible architecture and colours. What I didn’t realize was how delicate and detailed all the work truly is. The extravagance of the country is brought to life through the deep and contrasting colors incorporated in the designs. So what types of Moroccan designs are there?
Moroccans put a lot of hardwork and time into the beauty that are their mosques, palaces, gardens, and walls. From the horseshoe arched doorways and gates to deep green and indigo blue tilework. To help better visualize some of these details and showcase the splendor, here are a list of some of the MAIN materials and styles of architecture used across Morocco.


Moroccan Stucco 1024x768 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
Intricate designs in patterns carved into plaster. They also incorporate Islamic calligraphy into the patterns. This takes hours to carve and a very delicate hand but the outcome is incredible. You find this on walls, around doorways, on gates, and on ceiling arches.

Carved Cedarwood

Moroccan Carved Cedarwood 1024x640 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
Beautiful motifs of flowers and leaves, Arabic words and phrases, and other designs. This is an extremely common sight as most doors are made of carved cedarwood. Also found on panels, walls, fountains and doorways.

Zellij Tilework

Moroccan Tilework 1024x640 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
Colourful, individually shaped tiles arranged in geometric patterns, mostly in the shape of stars. This vibrant mosaic is found on floors and walls in both Mosques and every day houses.

Darj w Ktaf Pattern

Casablanca Hassan II Mosque 10 768x1024 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
A flower-like pattern pointing upwards usually in an emerald green shade. This pattern can be found on schools and Mosques.

Carved Copper

Moroccan Copper 1024x640 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
Copper and Bronze are cut-out in geometrical patterns which emit light as they are mainly used as lanterns and lamp shades. The Copper can be natural, painted black or any other colour. Sometimes coloured glass is inserted into the copper to provide accents.

Painted wooden ceilings

Moroccan Painted Ceilings 1024x640 Moroccan Architectural Patterns
Hand-painted traditional designs in star and flower-like patterns. These are found on most ceilings in Mosques, Palaces, and in some homes. The work is detailed and the colours are complimentary.
These shapes, colours, patterns, and designs are all reasons I was inspired to visit Morocco. Being here has fed me more knowledge on understanding what these motifs are and why they are important. I adore Moroccans dedication to beauty and incorporating it into their everyday lives and homes – It gives everywhere a very unique and grand feel. The greens, blues, yellows, and browns. The horseshoe gates, the carved doorways, the tiled floors. There is SO much more to Moroccan design then these patterns, but they give you a good introduction into some of the majestic beauty that is Moroccan design.

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Public holidays in Morocco

Public holidays in Morocco
The major 'holiday' to keep an eye on is Ramadan. It is a month of fasting during daylight hours. Consequently, many restaurants do not open during daylight hours. In fact, they only tend to open an hour after sundown so as to allow their staff and family to eat first. Alcohol is very difficult to come by during Ramadan. It is wise to not offend the local's sensibilities by eating and drinking in public during daylight hours.
Islamic Holidays
Islamic religious holidays are calculated on the lunar calendar, so their dates rotate throughout the seasons (as does Ramadan's), losing approximately eleven days a year against the Western (Gregorian) calendar. Exact dates in the lunar calendar are almost impossible to predict - they are actually set by the Islamic authorities in Fes depending on when the new moon is sighted (what do they do if it is a cloudy night ?), it is then announced by the king on TV, radio and in the newspapers the preceding day. For instance Eid-Al-Fitr could be 1st, 2nd or 3rd October 2008 ?
Below I have tried to indicate as near as possible the future, approximate dates for the Islamic Holidays, unless you specifically want to visit during one of these periods, they're possibly best avoided, as all banks, post offices and most shops close on the main holidays, as do many restaurants, public transport will sometimes also be affected, and basically the site of Fadesa grinds to a halt !
- 22 August 2009 / 11 August 2010 / 1 August 2011 - Ramadan (start)
Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting, and Moroccans are forbidden by law from "public disrespect" of the fast during daylight hours and a few people are jailed for this each year.
- 20 September 2009 / 10 September 2010 / 30 August 2011 - Eid-Al-Fitr
The end of Ramadan when Muslims celebrate the end of fasting and thank Allah for His help with their month-long act of self-control. Very family orientated holiday.
- 28 November 2009 / 17 November 2010 / 6 November 2011 - Hajj (start) / Eid-Al-Adha
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims should complete at least once in their lifetime. It celebrates the willingness of Ibrahim to obey Allah and sacrifice his son Isaac and culminates in the ritual slaughter of a lamb.
- 18 December 2009 / 7 December 2010 / 26 November 2011 - Al-Hijira / Moharem
Islamic New Year's Day. Marks the migration of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina.
- 7 January & 27 December 2009 / 16 December 2010 - Ashura
Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi'ite. Muslims regard it as a major festival marking the martydom of the Prophet's grandson, Hussein.
- Monday 9 March 2009 / 26 February 2010 / 15 February 2011 - Moulid an Nabi (Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed)
Shia Muslims celebrate this 5 days later. Some Muslims do not approve of celebrating the birthday, and regard doing so as a religious innovation.

View from AP4 balcony
General Public Holidays (Fetes nationales)
In addition to the Islamic holidays there are the secular fetes nationales, all also celebrated to some extent, and these are tied to the Western calendar dates:
January 1st - New Year's Day.
January 11th - Anniversary of Istiqlal Manifesto (demand of Independence).
May 1st - Labour Day.
July 30th - Feast of the Throne (largest secular holiday, usually over two to three days) - commemorates the accession to the throne of King Mohammed VI.
August 14th - Allegiance of Oued Eddahab - celebrates the return of the region to Moroccan rule, it was once claimed by Mauritania.
August 20th - King & People's Revolution.
August 21st - King's Birthday & Youth Day.
November 6th - Anniversary of the Marche Verte - Green March of the Saharawi People 'reclaiming' the Western Sahara in November 1975.
November 18th - Independence Day 
We look forward to assisting you.
The SaidiaHolidayRentals crew.

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Ramadan & Islamic Holidays In Morocco

  Ramadan & Islamic Holidays In Morocco

Ramadan, considered as the most important holiday in Islam, happens on the ninth month of the twelve month lunar calendar followed in Islam. These lunar months are twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan occurs earlier in each Gregorian year.

During Ramadan, a holy holiday, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan, but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. In its observance, Ramadan parallels the traditional Christian Lent. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden to even drink water.

During the times when you are allowed to eat, it is important to only eat healthy and nutritious things good for your body. The point of Ramadan is to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.

There are a few groups that are exempt from Ramadan, but are expected to make up the days during a later time. These groups include menstruating and postpartum women, pregnant and breast-feeding women, travelers and anyone who feels sick or weak. In addition, children before puberty do not have to fast, although many do so to practice for half the day.

Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, tourists are not recommended to travel to Morocco during this holy month. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day.

Traditionally the fast is broken with a bowl of harira and dates. At the breaking of the fast, everyone in the cities and villages spend their evenings celebrating with food and entertainment. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Aïd es Seghir (Aïd el Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) a two-day holiday.

While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six day fast following Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr).

Islamic Holidays Morocco

Aïd el Kebir – This holiday is the Moroccan equivalent of the New Year in Western Culture. This “grand festival” also known as Aid el Adha takes place 68 days after Aid es Seghir, commemorates the day that when by divine order Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Ismail, when Allah interceded by providing a ram in place of a child. Every household sacrifices a sheep and shares the meat at a family meal. In Berber villages families celebrate by putting on their best clothes and the women adorn themselves in Henna. Each fortified village and family opens their home to other families and children offering almonds and mint tea to others who come to celebrate. Children in villages often go from house to house to wish each family “Umbalid.” (Happy New Year)

Moharem– This is a cultural event which Muslims observe on the first day of Moharem, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophetMoharem made to the city now known as Medina. Recently, many Muslims have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day, though this is not commonly done. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the seasons.

Mouloud– The Prophets birthday, this holiday is widely observed with a large number of moussems timed to take place in the weeks around it.

Ashorou – This holiday marks the day when a music festival is held thirty days after Aïd el Kebir when people in cities and villages gather together to play traditional instruments and songs. The streets are filled with music and in villages boatmen come to place candelabras full of flaming candles at the Marabout of Sidi Abdallan ben Hasson. Families traditionally gather together to have special meals and offer zakat or a tenth of their annual income to the poor. Street celebrations, bonfires, and fireworks are other common ways of celebrating. Children take the celebrations to the street during the Achoura Festival. Most of them are waiting in anticipation for the big day of Zem Zem. Sharing a name with a well in Mecca, children are free to spray other children and adults with water. The final component of Achoura Festival is the offering of zakat.

Mouloud Moussems Morocco

Moussems are held in honor of saints or marabouts. They are local and rural celebrations for most Moroccans, primarily for the Berbers.

Meknes: Ben Aissa moussem –  This is the largest moussem and includes a spectacular fantasia (charge of horses with riders firing guns) held near Place el Hedim in the city of Meknes. For the two festival days each April, white, conical circus like tents are set up in the towns square and a cross between a circus and a medieval style jousting tournament is held. Horses charge in rows with riders firing guns from the saddles, while illusionists, jugglers and glass swallowers perform in the tents. These celebrations spring from a time when the Moussem of Sidi Ben Aissa was a time for the gathering of the Aissoua brotherhood of priests who were renowned for their ability to perform death defying acts while under trances. There is also music, singing and dancing, market souks and a party atmosphere. The main celebrations take place around the tomb of Ben Aissa, the founder of the Aissoua Sufi Brotherhood. Ben Aissa moussem takes place in April each year.

Salé,Rabat: Wax Candle moussem– This festival centers on a procession of wax candle, large latern-light creations, carried from Bab el Rih to the Grand Mosque on the eve of the Mouloud. The candle holders are followed by a variety of brotherhoods that dance and play music. The Wax Candle moussem takes place in April each year.

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Top 5 tips for travel during Ramadan in Morocco

Top 5 tips for travel during Ramadan
Ramadan Mubarak! With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan underway, now’s a good time to learn to say ‘Happy Ramadan!’ – especially if you’re considering travel at the end of July or during August to countries with majority Muslim populations, like Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco. With a few pointers, you can join a happy Ramadan already in progress.

1. Know the basics
Ramadan is a lunar month dedicated to sawm, or fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. From sun-up to sun-down, the faithful abstain from food, drink, tobacco and sex to concentrate on spiritual renewal. After sunset, there’s a euphoric iftar, or meal, to break the fast, followed by a late-night feast and sahur, a meal before the sun comes up and fasting begins again. Yet Ramadan isn’t all daytime discipline and nightly parties: it’s a time of generosity and zakat, or charity, another of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting isn’t easy, so everyone slows down during the day – but you’ll also notice people going out of their way to extend small kindnesses.

2. Plan ahead
Like any holiday, Ramadan affects business as usual. Many venues operate with limited hours and staff, so try to book accommodation, transport and tours via internet or phone before you arrive. Even if offices have posted hours, call ahead to ensure someone’s available to meet your needs. Most restaurants close by day, so pack lunches or reserve ahead at restaurants that open for lunch in tourist areas.

3. Shift your schedule
Nightly festivities trump early bedtimes during Ramadan. Sunset streets come alive with light displays, music and offers of sweets at every intersection. After an iftar of dates, soup or savoury snacks, people of all ages binge on sweets until the late-night feast – followed by more visits and sweets, until wired kids finally wear themselves out.  There’s no rush to get up the next day, unless shopping is on the agenda. Stores often close in the afternoon, and bargaining is more pleasant before midday heat kicks in and lack of water is felt. As sundown approaches, the mood turns upbeat, with Ramadan finery on display and tantalising aromas filling the streets.

4. Get into the Ramadan spirit
Don’t worry: you won’t be expected to fast during Ramadan. According to tradition, even Muslim travellers are exempt from fasting – it’s hard to do at home under controlled conditions, let alone in unfamiliar places. To show your support, avoid eating or drinking on the street in front of people who are probably fasting, and grant people privacy at prayer times.

5. Accept hospitality
When a new friend offers you special Ramadan sweets or invites you to a family feast, polite refusal would be crushing. You’re not obliged to return the favour or eat the sweets: you honour givers just by accepting their generosity in the spirit of Ramadan. Kindness can be repaid by practising zakat, and giving to a local charity.

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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Morocco

10 Top Attractions in Morocco is explore various cultural and historical tourist attractions in Morocco including museums, religious sites, art galleries and the Sahara.You searched for Morocco among Travelmarkets attractions. Below, please finde all the attractions corresponding to your search for Morocco.
With long beaches, fortified fishing ports, lush oases and the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco’s coasts and countryside offer plenty to interest travelers. Throw in the imperial cities of Fez, Meknes and Marrakesh with their superb examples of early Islamic architecture, and you’ll understand why Morocco is a great travel destination.
The top tourist attractions in Morocco:
Meknes is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco and its name and fame are closely linked to that of Sultan Moulay Ismail. The sultan turned Meknes into a impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great gates. While Meknes is an imperial city with a lot of historical monuments and natural sites it is also the nearest city to the Roman ruins of Volubilis.
  • Explore Meknes
Arch of Caracalla at Volubilisflickr/Irene Rx (aka Irena Kittenclaw
In antiquity, Volubilis was an important Roman town situated near the westernmost border of Roman conquests in present day Morocco. It was the administrative center of the province Mauretania Tingitana. The fertile lands of the province produced many commodities such as grain and olive oil, which were exported to Rome, contributing to the province’s wealth and prosperity. The Romans evacuated most of Morocco at the end of the 3rd century AD but people continued to live in Volubilis for many centuries.
  • Explore Arch of Caracalla at Volubilis
Chefchaouen (or Chaouen) is a gorgeous mountain city in northeastern Morocco. The picturesque medina, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Rif Mountains, is filled with white-washed homes with distinctive, powder-blue accents. It is a popular shopping destination offering 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 region around Chefchaouen is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis.
  • Explore Chefchaouen
7Todra Gorge
Todra Gorgeflickr/Peter Ashton aka peamasher
Todra Gorge is situated on the remote east side of the High Atlas Mountains. Both the Todra and neighboring Dades Rivers have carved out cliff-sided canyons through the mountains. The final 600 meters of the Todra Gorge are the most spectacular as the canyon narrows to a flat stony track as little as 10 meters (33 ft) wide in places with sheer and smooth rock walls up to 160 meters (525 ft) high on each side.
  • Explore Todra Gorge
Essaouira is a relaxed fishing port, protected by a natural bay. It was formerly known, by the 16th century Portuguese as Mogador. The present city of Essaouira was only built during the 18th century to increase trade exchanges with the European powers. Nowadays, Essaouira is renowned for its kitesurfing and windsurfing, with the powerful trade wind blowing almost constantly onto the protected bay. Parasols tend to be used on the beach as a protection against the wind and the blowing sand. The medina of Essaouira is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, notably cabinet making and wood-carving.
  • Explore Essaouira
5Draa Valley
Draa Valleyflickr/andywon
Located south of the High Atlas mountains, the stunning Draa Valley, lined with old Kasbahs, Berber villages and palm groves, spreads from Ouarzazate in the west to Zagora in the east. A drive through the valley is undoubtedly one of the most scenic journeys in Morocco. The Draa Valley is intersected by the Draa River which starts in the High Atlas and ends in the Atlantic Ocean, though in reality the river normally dries out before reaching the ocean.
  • Explore Draa Valley
4Erg Chebbi
Erg Chebbiflickr/amerune
The Erg Chebbi dunes are located in the Sahara Desert. The awe-inspiring dunes are as high as 150 meters tall, and one certainly feels small in their shadows. Erg Chebbi special feature is its beautiful unique orange colored sand. Excursions to the dunes normally start from the village of Merzouga which is located on the edge of the erg. Camel trekking is the most popular option although it isn’t the most comfortable way of traveling.
  • Explore Erg Chebbi
3Fes el Bali
Fes el Baliflickr/papalars
Fes-al-Bali, the larger of the two medinas of Fes, is a nearly intact medieval city. With a population of about 150,000 inhabitants, it is the largest carfree urban area in the world by population. Transports of goods is provided by donkeys, carriages, and motorbikes. The entire medina is surrounded by high walls with a number of historic city gates. Several shops and restaurants have a rooftop terrace which is a great way to escape the bustling streets. The views are particularly spectacular during sunset and after dark.
  • Explore Fes el Bali
2Aït Benhaddou
Aït Benhaddouflickr/Cynewulf
Aït Benhaddou is one of Ouarzazate’s fortified cities along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. Inside the high mud walls are 6 kasbahs and a small number of homes. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river although a few families still live within the city walls. Aït Benhaddou has appeared in several movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
  • Explore Aït Benhaddou
1Djemaa el Fna
#1 of Tourist Attractions In Moroccoflickr
Djemaa El-Fna is the highlight of any visit to Marrakech and one of the top tourist attractions in Morocco. By day this square at the heart of the medina is largely filled with snake charmers and people with monkeys, as well as some of the more common stalls. As the day progresses the entertainments on offer change: the snake charmers depart, and in the afternoon and evening the square becomes more crowded, with story-tellers, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines. As dark descends Djemaa El-Fna fills with dozens of food-stalls, and the crowds are at their height.

Ramadan in Morocco

It is currently Ramadan in Morocco and the rest of the Moslem world and I would just like to add a few comments to the topic of Ramadan.

My partner and I are planning to spend a month in Morocco in October this year. We have only just found out that this is the time of Ramadan. We have already paid for our flights so I dont think we can change it. Has anyone been to Morocco during Ramadan? What should we expect? We were really looking forward to sampling the local food and eating from street vendors. Should I pay the fine to change my flight and avoid Morocco at this time? Anyone who has some info on this or some personal experiences I would love to hear from you.

during ramadan is still a fine time to go. Not a lot of adjustments required other than being considerate that moroccans around you are not eating drinking or smoking during the day but its still accepted ie not taken as an insult that foreigners come and do stil eat etc, but be kind by maybe sitting further off the street or inside a restaurant etc. and also that moods may be a bit edgey.
some places may shut for a long break around lunch time or actually close altogether on fridays which is like our sundays.
Moroccans still appreciate tourists and are open for business pretty much as normal in most or particularly the big places/towns, cities etc.

I am European and have lived in Morocco for about 6 years. About the only two places in Morocco that will be more-or-less "normal" for the overseas visitor are Marrakesh and Agadir. Almost all of the tourist restaurants in both cities are open during the daytime hours and thus no real inconvenience will be experienced.

The problems for tourists arise when trying to make a trip or tour outside of the city that they are in. In this situation, one will find that there are no places open to eat or drink.

If a tourist confines their current travel itinerary to Agadir and Marrakesh, then everything will be fine. It's about 4 hours by bus between the two cities - or 3.5 hours if the bus does not stop at the rest stop at Chechaoua.

then you see them out on the streets after dark in almost party mode. they have huge/celebratory almost style breakfasts at about 630pm/the allowed time to start eating and then a late meal a while after that up to as late as 1 oclock in the morning. marrakech was packed with people when we were there last ramadan time and such a lively atmosphere.

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Ramadan in Morocco

Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, involves abstaining from food, drink, sexual relations, smoking and other vices between sunrise and sunset. Its conclusion is marked by Eid Al-Fitr, one of the two major Islamic holidays.

Although the focus of Ramadan is spiritual – making extra prayers, giving charity and other other acts of worships are recommended – many cultures place a surprising emphasis on food during this holy month. Iftar, the meal at which Muslims break their fast, is highly anticipated, and even children who aren’t fasting look forward to the spread of food each evening.

The Iftar Table

At a Moroccan iftar, dates, milk, juices, and sweets typically provide the sugar surge needed after a day of going without food. Harira, a hearty lentil and tomato soup, satisfies hunger and restores energy. Hard-boiled eggs, meat- or seafood-filled pastries (briouats), fried fish, and pancakes might also be served.

Large batches of sweets such as sellou and chebekia are traditionally prepared in advance for use throughout the month, as are cookies and other pastries. These, and other specialties found in the list of Ramadan Recipes can be made all year round, but they are especially popular during this holy month.

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Medina of Marrakesh

Marrakesh remained a political, economic and cultural centre for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. It has several impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors, gardens, etc. Later architectural jewels include the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Place Jamaâ El Fna, a veritable open-air theatre.

Founded in 1070-1072 by the Almoravids (1056-1147), capital of the Almohads (1147-1269), Marrakesh was, for a long time, a major political, economic and cultural centre of the western Muslim world, reigning in North Africa and Andalusia. Vast monuments dating back to that period: Koutoubia Mosque, with the matchless minaret of 77 metres, an essential monument of Muslim architecture, is one of the important landmarks of the urban landscape and the symbol of the City, the Kasbah, ramparts, monumental gates and gardens. Later, the town welcomed other marvels, such as the Badiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef merdersa, les Saâdians tombs,  Bahia Palace and large residences. Jamaâ El Fna Square, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, is a true open-air theatre that always amazes visitors. Due to its still protected, original and well conserved conception, its construction materials and decoration in constant use, and its natural environment (notably the Gardens of Aguedal, Ménara and the Palm Grove (Palmeraie) the plantation of which is attributed to the Almoravids), the Medina of Marrakesh possesses all its initial components both cultural and natural that illustrate its Outstanding Universal Value.
Criterion (i): Marrakesh contains an impressive number of masterpieces of architecture and art (ramparts and monumental gates, Koutoubia Mosque, Saâdians tombs, ruins of the Badiâ Palace, Bahia Palace, Ménara water feature and pavilion) each one of which could justify, alone, a recognition of Outstanding Universal Value.
Criterion (ii): The capital of the Almoravids and the Almohads has played a decisive role in medieval urban development.  Capital of the Merinids, Fès Jedid (the New town), integral part of the Medina of Fez, inscribed in 1981 on the World Heritage List, is an adaptation of the earlier urban model of Marrakesh.
Criterion (iv): Marrakesh, which gave its name to the Moroccan empire, is a completed example of a major Islamic capital of the western Mediterranean.
Criterion (v): In the 700 hectares of the Medina, the ancient habitat, rendered vulnerable due to demographic change, represents an outstanding example of a living historic town with its tangle of lanes, its houses, souks, fondouks, artisanal activities and traditional trades.
Integrity (2009)
The boundary of the property inscribed on the World Heritage List is correctly defined by the original ramparts that enclose all the requisite architectural and urban attributes for recognition of its Outstanding Universal Value.  A revision of these boundaries is envisaged for increased protection of the surroundings of the property.
Nevertheless, the integrity of the property is vulnerable due to pressure from urban development, uncontrolled alterations to upper floors and construction materials of the houses, the abandonment of the Khettaras (underground drainage galleries) and exploitation of the palm groves.
Authenticity (2009)
The ramparts, the Koutoubia Mosque, the kasbah, the Saâdians tombs, the ruins of Badiâ Palace, Menara water feature and pavilion, are examples of many monuments that clearly reflect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The authenticity of the inner urban structure and of the monuments remains intact.  It is ensured by qualified workmanship carrying out restorations in accordance with standards in force. Reconstruction and redevelopment work carried out in the heart of the historic centre generally respects the original volume and style. The use of traditional materials in these restoration operations has tremendously revived the artisanal trades linked to construction (Zellige, lime plaster (tadallakt), painted and sculpted wood, plastering, wrought ironwork, cabinetmaking, etc.) in addition to trades linked to furnishing and decoration.
Protection and management requirements (2009)
Protection measures are essentially related to different laws for the listing of historic monuments and sites, in particular Law 22-80 concerning heritage. In addition to this legislation, each of the more important monuments of the Medina of Marrakesh is protected by specific regulatory texts. Over and above the local services that are involved with the protection of the Medina, the Regional Inspection for Historic Monuments and Sites (attached to the Ministry for Culture) is specifically responsible for the management, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the historic monuments on the one hand, and on the other, the examination of requests for building and development permits and the control of building sites in the Medina, thus constituting a guarantee for a sustainable protection of the site.
The Architectural Charter of the Medina of Marrakesh, developed by the Urban Agency of Marrakesh in cooperation with the Regional Inspection for Historic Monuments and Sites, comprises a management toolfor the safeguarding of the architectural, urban and landscape heritage of the Medina. It will be applied through the establishment of a specific advisory structure. A convention for the implementation of this Charter was signed on 11 November 2008 between the concerned partners.
Long Description

The capital of the Almoravids and the Almohads played a decisive role in the development of medieval planning. Marrakesh (which gave its name to the Moroccan Empire) is the textbook example of a large Islamic capital in the Western world. With its maze of narrow streets, houses, souks (markets), traditional crafts and trade activities, and its medina, this ancient settlement is an outstanding example of a vibrant historic city.
Marrakesh was founded in 1071-72 by Youssef ben Tachfin on the site of the camp where Abou Bekr had left him in charge. From that point forward, Marrakesh was no longer an occasional stopping place for the Almoravids. It became the true capital of these conquering nomads who succeeded in stretching their empire from the Sahara to the Ebro and from the Atlantic to Kabylia.
The original layout of the medina dates back to the Almoravid period from which there still remain various monumental vestiges (ruins of the so-called Abou Bekr Kasbah, Youssef ben Tachfin Mosque and Ali ben Youssef Palace, not far from the Koutoubia, the pool and the 'Koubba' of Ali ben Youssef Mosque which were discovered in 1955, Bab Aylan gate, etc.). In essence it is an adaptation of the older urban model of Marrakesh.
The walls of the medina were built in 1126-27 following the order given by Ali ben Youssef. The planting of the palm groves, which at the present still cover a surface area of roughly 13,000 ha to the east of the city, has also been credited to the Almoravids. When in 1147 this dynasty bowed to the attacks of the Almohads led by Abdel Mou'men, the task of purification that was carried out did not spare the monuments which, for the most part, were destroyed by the victors. Nevertheless Marrakesh remained the capital. Under the Almohad rulers (1147-1269), Marrakesh experienced new and unprecedented prosperity.
Between 1147 and 1158, Abd el Mou'men had the Koutoubia Mosque built upon the ruins of the Almoravid foundations. Its incomparable minaret, key monument of Muslim architecture, is one of the major features of the cityscape and is the actual symbol of the city. The ruler's successors, Abou Yacoub Youssef and especially Yacoub el Mansour, were the ones who truly renovated the capital. They built new quarters, extended the city wall, fortified the Kasbah (1185-90) which was a prolongation of the city to the south with its own ramparts and gates (Bab Agnaou, Bab Robb), its mosque, palace, market, hospital, parade-ground and gardens. These leaders strengthened their control over their domains by planting crops (Menara to the west) and by civil engineering achievements, the best known of which are the Tensift Bridge and the kettara network in the palm groves.

The decline of Marrakesh, which began during the conquest of the city by the Merinids in 1269, never went beyond the point of no return, as is illustrated by a number of non-negligible constructions (Ben Salih Mosque and minaret, not long after 1321). The rebirth of the capital under the Saadian rulers (1510-1669) led to a new blossoming of the arts, as borne out by the ruins of the El Badi Palace and the Saadian tombs, whose precious architecture is isolated from the rest of the Kasbah by a wall. Some of the elements making up these refined and sumptuous constructions came from afar, such as the marble columns from Carrara which Montaigne observed being cut in Tuscany 'for the king of Morocco in Berberia'. Also dating back to the Saadian period is the restoration of the Ben Youssef Madrasa and the building of several fountains decorated with gypsum work and woodwork (Mouassine, Chrob ou Chouf and Bab Doukkala Fountains).
Under the reign of the Alawite dynasty, Marrakesh, the temporary capital, was graced with a new mosque, madrasas, palaces and residences harmoniously integrated into the homogeneous unit of the old town, which was surrounded by 10 km of clay and lime and beaten-cob ramparts. Beyond the walls were the great traditional areas of greenery: the palm groves, the Menara and, to the south, the Agdal gardens that were redesigned by Moulay Abd er Rahman (1822-59).

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marrakech medina

The people of the Medina have always ridden their motorbikes in the Medina it has always been their right to do so but if the authorities wish to encourage more and more tourists to visit the Medina,something is going to have to be done as it is becoming unbearable for older visitors and young alike. Infact shopkeepers in the Derb Debbachi and the souk Semmarine have put up no entry signs for motor cycles. More motorbike riders are now dismounting and walking with their motor bikes through crowded areas. It is a gradual process of adaption but it definitely needs to speed up.

The other aspect is one of the health: the exhaust fumes are another disincentive to visit the Medina as they linger in the streets and many Marrkechis' suffer from bronchitis and breathing conditions and the cold air from the Atlas Mountains traps the vapours so that they linger. Marrakech hasn't it seems woken up to the need for clean air

Too often now international travel writers write about the hassle of Marrakech Medina and recommend escaping to the smaller souks of Essaouira and the weekly markets outside Marrakech. The aggressive selling techniques of shop and stall owners may have suited an earlier generation when there were fewer tourists coming to Marrakech but not everyone wants to bargain and being grabbed by the arm is often a severe deterrent. It is actually impossible to look in a shop window without being assailed by the owner or his assistant in the Medina.

Marrakech's Mayor, Fatima Zahra Mansouri, has spoken of the need to preserve the rights and freedoms of the people of the Medina against the demands of the tourism industry and this is understandable but tourism is the main business of Marrakech and as has been evident over the last year, if tourists do not visit the Medina the city as a whole suffers economically. Visitors to the Medina should be allowed to walk in reasonable comfort and security.

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