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What to see in Fez, Rabat and Marrakech.

Morocco is a country that must be understood, it is touristic but different from what one might expect. In general, you have to pay attention to water, ice and food (even if at the restaurant) and not to leave objects in open pockets or bags while strolling in the souks and markets where people crowd (you can't imagine how fast they can be rummaging through your pockets).

We took a flight to Fez, then the train to Rabat and then to Marrakech to watch the desert like in the movies and the service exceeded our expectations..

The imperial city of Fez

Tannery, souk, Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque, Madrasa Bou Inania

In Fez you take a real dive into the past: here you can review and relive the images that our mind opens up when we think of Morocco.

The Old City of Fez is the largest and best preserved Medina in the Islamic world and has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Fez is a real labyrinth of narrow streets, stalls of all kinds, carpets, leathers, fabrics, brass objects, animals sold alive or dead, spices, beauty products and donkeys that roam the streets loaded with all kinds of goods.

Bab Boujloud is the main gate of the city, a monumental entrance decorated with blue and green majolica tiles wanted in 1913 next to the original 12th-century one.

From here the beautiful souks of Fes begin - winding alleys around the two main arteries Talaa Seghira and Talaa Kebira - which lead to the city center, Islamic schools, public hammams, cafes and places to stop and rest and talk. The souks are divided by corporations or types of goods; among the most popular is the Attarine where you can buy perfumes and spices. Getting lost is very easy and it is recommended to take a guide to go around and get to know the city better (Google Maps won't help you here); we found one on the spot and it was a great experience.

The most famous area is that of the dyers' quarter with the Chouara Tannery.

In the Middle Ages the tanks were built to treat the hides and they are the same ones that are still used today with the same process as then. A mixture of water and guano is inserted inside and the craftsmen immerse themselves up to the waist to remove impurities from the skins and soften them; they then color them in multicolored wineskins (turmeric yellow, indigo blue, mint green), then hang them out to dry. The smell is pungent, but nothing you can't resist..don't worry :)

Near the tannery there are shops where it is possible to buy finished products and many of these have terraces from which it is possible to admire the tannery from above.

Also in the Medina is the ancient Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque, built in 859, one of the oldest in the western Muslim world. In the open-air courtyard there is a large fountain from which if you are lucky you can take a peek inside the 4 forbidden doors where entry is forbidden to non-Muslims.

The mosque is incorporated in the homonymous and oldest University of Al-Qarawiyyin.

Sultan Abu Inan Faris endowed it with an extraordinary library, which in 1613 housed 320,000 books and manuscripts (today it holds over 30,000 rare copies and unique manuscripts in the world). Thanks to this, many students and scholars arrived and Fez became the capital of science and culture of the Maghreb.

Another place not to be missed is the Madrasa Bou Inania, also open to non-Muslims and perfectly preserved, perfectly expressing the ancient splendor of the city. Founded in 1351-56 by the Merindis, the madrasa was a student residence, a mosque and an Islamic school. The building is rich in inlaid wood decorations, ceramics, marble and for this reason it is considered among the most beautiful in Morocco.

Finally, on the hill of the Medina are the Merinid Tombs. Today there are only a few ruins left, but our guide showed them with great pride along with the view over the whole city. Once magnificent palaces, marbles and necropolises stood out on the hill, but over the centuries thieves and looters have taken everything away.


The Capital

Let's go for a tour of the capital and largest city of Morocco with its seaside boulevards and impressive illuminated monuments. Compared to Fez there is a more modern atmosphere, but we already miss the magic of the past experienced the days before.

Among the things to visit:

  • the Hassan Tower: symbol of the city, it was to become the largest minaret and mosque in the world, but in 1199, on the death of the caliph, the works stopped. For this reason, the tower today is only 44 meters (half of the planned 86 m). According to some traditions, it was part of a project by an astronomer and mathematician in which a twin tower was to be built in Andalusia.

  • the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the father of Moroccan independence, esteemed by Moroccans and protector of Moroccan Jews during the Second World War. This imposing royal tomb of white ivory with a roof covered with green tiles, the royal color also present on the Moroccan flag.

  • Kasbah des Oudayas, the fortified citadel and the cemetery next to it where the tombstones reach the coast and face the infinity of the sea.

The pink city, the famous Marrakech

Jemaa el Fna Square, Majorelle Garden, Bahia Palace

Marrakech is also called the pink city, due to the color of the pink sandstone with which the ancient buildings of the city were built.

Jemaa el Fna is the main square and among the main attractions. At its center snake charmers, monkey musicians and jugglers put on their shows to attract the many tourists; all around bars, cafes and restaurants make the area lively both day and night. An experience to try is to relax on one of the many panoramic terraces and watch the sunset turn everything red; among the oldest Le Gran Balcon du Café Glacier and the Cafè de France.

From here start the souks with the merchants of carpets, spices, lipsticks and natural beauty products: they are particular but not folkloristic like those of Fez.

Mustplace of the city is the Majorelle Garden, the famous and beautiful garden in the house of Yves Saint Laurent. The famous villa was first built by the landscape architect Jacques Majorelle, who built it together with the botanical gardens in 1931: the house was on the first floor, while the studio was on the ground floor. A botany lover, Majorelle made the garden a work of art with exotic and rare plants, fountains, ponds, ceramic vases, paths, pergolas. In 1937 the artist painted the walls of the villa and the garden with an ultramarine/cobalt blue created by him and in 1947 he opened the complex to the public. Unfortunately, following a car accident, Majorelle had to return to Paris, where he died in 1962, leaving the garden abandoned for many years.

In 1966 during a stay in Marrakech, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the garden and decided to buy it in 1980 to live in the artist's house which they renamed Villa Oasis. After Yves' death, his ashes were scattered in the villa's rose garden and a memorial was erected in the garden.

Today it is possible to visit in the complex: the Berber Museum and a museum dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent.

In the Medina, there are several monuments to visit such as:

  • Koutobia mosque, which can only be observed from the outside and is distinguished by its 11th-century minaret inspired by that of the Giralda. The name means "booksellers' mosque" and comes from the many book stalls that have surrounded it since its early years.

  • Bahia Palace, built in the late 19th century to create the most impressive palace of all time, became the symbol of the city's grandeur. Its construction lasted 14 years, the grand vizier Si Moussa spared no expense and employed the best craftsmen in the country and his successors enriched the splendor of the building. The palace covers 8 hectares, 150 rooms overlook different courtyards and the harem of 4 wives and 24 concubines. The name Bahia means beautiful and is thought to have referred to the favorite wife of the vizier. Unfortunately, the rooms have been looted and are now bare, but you can admire the magnificent decorations on the ceilings.

Finally we liked the Tombs of the Saadites, a place still little traveled by tourists which is accessed via a narrow passage from the Kasbah Mosque.

These sumptuous tombs were built by Saadi prince Ahmed al-Mansour at the end of the 16th century. Forgotten for centuries, they were rediscovered in 1917 and immediately reopened to the public. More than 100 tombs decorated with mosaics can be seen in the garden, where the bodies of the servants and warriors of the Saadian dynasty were buried. While in the main mausoleum, the sultan and his family members are buried in three rooms, of which the most famous and beautiful is the one with 12 columns, where his children are buried.


  • Sleeping in riads (riyāḍ which means garden), traditional houses on several floors with terraces and geometric and arabesque decorations in bright and wonderful colours. These houses are structured looking towards the internal courtyard and are closed to the outside: in fact, on the ground floor there is always a courtyard with tables and sofas for eating, then the bedrooms and the rest of the house are developed on the floors above.

  • Beware of food!!! the street one only for those with a strong stomach :)

  • Moroccan hammam, different from the Turkish one and to be tried without fail. The ritual takes place starting with the savonage, in which you are covered in black soap which helps to eliminate skin impurities. After half an hour soaped up and immersed in the heat of the hammam, we move on to the exfoliating massage with the Kessa glove.. get ready for an energetic scrub. After that, the body is rinsed with hot water to eliminate dead skin and continues with the ghassoul: a clay-based treatment that softens the epidermis. After another rinse, you move on to the relaxation phase on the bed or with other treatments.

Itinerary in map:

Click here to see the map and using during the trip:



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