A pleasant culture shock awaits you as you arrive in Morocco. It is as culturally rich as it is geographically diverse and cannot fail to impress. Visiting some of its towns and villages and experiencing the generosity of its people will leave you hooked, as I was, by the Arabic experience.
Fez is the bustling cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco.
The main attraction is the Medieval Medina in the colourful old city, which has been continuously inhabited since the 10th century. It is busy with traditionally dressed Moroccans, and rich with the noise of buying and selling, veiled women going about their work and bell-ringing water sellers.
A guided tour is the easiest way to tackle the buzzing hive that is traditional Fez, but if you are brave, you can negotiate the tiny alleyways, too narrow for cars whilst risking getting lost and then haggling with a local to be guided back out!
The Tanneries: A visit to the souks will lead to a visit to Fez’s famous tanneries, where one of the oldest arts in the world is practiced to produce the soft leather do characteristic of Morocco.
You’ll need a strong stomach for the smells given off during curing, while you look down on the fascinating tanners’ yard and its impressive vats of different coloured dyes and piles of skins. Open 9-6, admission free.
View Point: The best vantage point over the ancient walled city is from the ruined Merenid Tombs on a hilltop to the east of the city. From here you can see the skyline with its profusion of satellite dishes, and a general mass of palaces, green-roofed holy places, the tanneries, as well as the adjacent Karaouine Mosque.
Moulay Idriss ll: In the depths of the old city sits the shrine that houses the remains of the founder of the city of Fez, Moulay Idriss II. It is one of the holiest buildings in the city. Non-Muslims may not enter, but you can glimpse inside to see the saint’s tomb, which is receives constant devotional visits from groups of women who burn candles and incense.
Walking through the alleyways and souks of Marrakech, particularly in the Medina of the old city, it is easy to believe you have been transported back in time to the “Arabian Nights”.
It is this enchanting mood that brings thousands of sightseers to the most visited of Moroccan cities.
The Medina is characterized by much noise, hustle and bustle with tradesmen and craftsmen going about their daily tasks of cloth dying, copper beating or leather working, as well as herbalists, perfumers and slipper makers.
Snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas Mountains form a beautiful backdrop for the city, although they are often hidden by the heat haze.
Djemaa el-Fna: In the heart of the Medina. It is an irregular ‘square’ and a hub of action where tourists flock to soak up the busy atmosphere. Tourism, though, has not spoilt, but rather added to the complete picture.
Marrakesh has a modern side with its luxury hotels, banks and streets bursting with motor scooters, while it blends effortlessly with the past of the old city.
Marrakech was founded in 1062 by Youssef bin Tachfine of the Almoravide dynasty, and his son perfected the city by bringing in architects and Andalucian craftsmen from C