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Morocco

Main attractions

Chefchaouen, Morocco
Street in Chefchaouen / Mia & Steve Mestdagh, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Morocco differs from other countries of Africa and has rather many similarities to Europe. Or rather - it has its own "style" for natural and cultural landmarks.

This North African country is very rich with man made landmarks, but also nature here is rich and diverse. Highlights of Morocco are:

Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
Aït Benhaddou / Maureen, / CC BY 2.0
  • Historical cities - medinas. Morocco has some of the most beautiful historical cities in the world. Here are found immense medieval cities (Fes el Bali is one of the largest intact medieval cities in the world), secluded hilltop towns (the "secret" city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun), blue towns (Chefchaouen) and orange towns (Aït Benhaddou).
  • Local architecture. Moroccan architecture is distinct and has left influence on European architecture. Some of most interesting examples are Koutoubia Mosque, Bou Inania Madrasa, Menara Gardens.
  • Petroglyphs and megaliths. Morocco is very rich with interesting prehistoric heritage. Here are found megalithic stone rings, standing stones, tumulus and countless sites with prehistoric paintings and etchings. Some of most interesting are Aït Ouaazik petroglyph site and Msoura stone circle.

Natural landmarks

Legzira natural arches, Morocco
Legzira natural arches / Walter Rodriguez, / CC BY 2.0

Cliff formations

  • Legzira - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Impressive natural arches at the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Pont de Dieu in Akchour - Tangier-Tétouan. Tall natural bridge in Talassemtane National Park.
  • Todgha Gorge - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Impressive gorge, which narrows down to 10 m, with 160 m high walls. Gorge is up to 300 m deep.

Caves

  • Caves of Hercules - Tangier-Tétouan. Large cave which opens both to the sea and land, popular tourist destination. Caves have been used for dwelling since the Neolithic times, partly carved artificially to make millstones. According to legends here lived also Hercules. Later, in the 19th century it was used as brothel.
  • Kef Toghobeit Cave - Tangier-Tétouan. 722 m deep cave, deepest known in Morocco. Almost 4 km long.
  • Wit Tamdoun - Souss-Massa-Drâa. 18.4 km long cave with river.
Ouzoud Falls, Morocco
Ouzoud Falls / Arnaud Clerget, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Waterfalls

  • Imouzzer Cascades (Imouzzer Ida Ou Tanane waterfall) - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Interesting, more than 100 m tall waterfall with an enormous fan-like formation of travertine under it. For most part of the year it is dry.
  • Ouzoud Falls - Tadla-Azilal. 110 m tall, visually impressive and interesting waterfall with several cascades. Stream continues into canyon which is almost 600 m deep.

Ecosystems

  • Jebel Imzi dragon tree groves - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Richest find of Dracaena draco ssp. ajgal - exotic dragon tree. Here grow also other rare and endemic species of plants. Prehistoric drawings with the blood-like sap of dragon tree.
  • Talassemtane National Park - Tangier-Tétouan. The only grove of Abies maroccana - beautiful and very rare tree.

Other natural landmarks

  • Ahl al Oughlam - Grand Casablanca. Richest find of the remnants of Neogene vertebrates. Here have been found remains of 23 species of carnivores, 13 of these were new to science.

Man made landmarks

Aït Ouaazik petroglyph, Morocco
Aït Ouaazik petroglyph / / public domain

Prehistoric cliff art

  • Aït Ouaazik - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Rich petroglyph site in the valley of Draa River. Many etchings show interesting, even mysterious symbols. Here are found some menhirs and other megaliths.
  • Foum Chenna - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Richest find of engraved petroglyphs in Draa River valley. Etchings show people, horsemen, diverse animals, hunting scenes.
  • Ifran-n-Taska - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Five shelters with rock paintings, used red, white, black and yellow colors. Paintings show animals (aardwarks, antelopes, giraffes), fingerprints, geometric symbols etc. In the largest shelter are shown groups of people, possibly dancing. Paintings most likely were created 5000 - 2000 BC.
  • Taghrart-n-Lguettara - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Prehistoric site with petroglyphs and tumuli.
Tingis Gate in Volubilis, Morocco
Tingis Gate in Volubilis / Prioryman, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Roman heritage

  • Chellah - Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer. Roman necropolis and settlement, which was abandoned only in 1154 AD.
  • Lixus - Tangier-Tétouan. Ruins of once important Roman city. City was first settled by Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, later taken by Carthage and then Romans. Flourished in 40 - 50 AD. Well preserved mosaics. Subject of controversy is large, megalithic walls of city, which supposedly were built before Phoenicians.
  • Volubilis - Meknès-Tafilalet. Ruins of abandoned Phoenician - Carthagian - Roman city which flourished in the 3rd century BC. Local people invaded it in 285 AD, it was inhabited until the 11th century AD. City was prosperous and there have been preserved ruins of many beautiful buildings, including basilica, trimuphal arch. City was protected by walls.

Other archaeological landmarks

  • El Gour - Meknès-Tafilalet. Large, well preserved tumulus, possibly from the 4th century BC.
  • Foum al Rjam - Souss-Massa-Draâ. Prehistoric (the 8th century BC) necropolis with approximately thousand tumuli, located in magnificent natural setting - once important mountain pass to Draa River valley.
  • Msoura stone ring (Mezorah) - Tangier-Tétouan. Impressive stone circle with 167 standing stones up to 5 metres high. It is possible that this is burial for one of first Mauretanian kings from the 4th - 3rd century BC.
  • Taforalt Caves (Grotte des Pigeons) - Oriental. In these caves in the Upper Paleolithic period, around 20,000 BC lived people. Here have been found some 100 skeletons of these people, providing rich material for the exploration.
  • Taouz al Qadim - Meknès-Tafilalet. Well preserved prehistoric necropolis with 11 tumuli and some other prehistoric monuments. Largest tumuli have a diameter of 20 m and height of 3 m. Seven tumuli have chapels in them, hinting at the cult of dead.
Essaouira, Morocco
Essaouira / Davidlohr Bueso, / CC BY 2.0

Historical cities and towns

  • Aït Benhaddou (Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou) - Souss-Massa-Draâ. Historical, fortified town, built of orange - brown adobe. This hilltop village provides a striking sight.
  • Asilah - Tanger-Tétouan. Historical town at Atlantic Ocean, with intact medieval ramparts and buildings. Town was established by Phoenicians in 1500 BC. Restored in the 1970s.
  • Chefchaouen - Tanger-Tétouan. Historical city, popular tourist destination, famous due to much used light blue color on walls and even streets.
  • El Jadida (Mazagan) - Doukkala-Abda. Well preserved historical city at the Atlantic Ocean. Controlled by Portuguese in 1502 - 1769, they built also fortification walls and planned the city in Renaissance style. Contains the visually impressive Portuguese Cistern with Gothic columns, built in 1514.
  • Essaouira - Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz. Fortified and very well preserved town at the Atlantic Ocean. Fortifications are built according to European tradition. City served as a port of Marrakech.
  • Fes el Bali - Fès-Boulemane. The medieval, fortified part of Fes city. City was founded in between 789 and 808 AD. Here is located the oldest university in the world (859 AD), and, it is possible that this is the largest car free urban area in the world.
  • Kasbah of the Udayas - Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer. Historical quartal - fortress in Rabat. Developed since 1150 AD, partly deserted in 1199 AD already.
  • Medina of Marrakech and Djemaa el Fna (Jemaa el-Fnaa) - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Former imperial city, founded in the 11th century. The walled city (19 km of walls preserved) contains numerous valuable structures, here is located also Djemaa el Fna - large and very lively city square, where a unique, local tradition of popular performances has developed.
  • Meknes - Meknès-Tafilalet. Historical capital of Morocco, flourished in the 17th - 18th century. Old city has large prison underneath where captured Europeans were held, as well as hundreds of historical buildings. Some of most impressive are Dar El Makhzen palace and Bab Mansour gate. City walls with numerous gates have been preserved.
  • Moulay Idriss Zerhoun - Meknès-Tafilalet. The most sacred city in Morocco, founded by the king Moulay Idriss I (great-grandson of the prophet Muhammad) in 789. City is bouilt on two hills. Hills are densely covered with buildings and look spectacular among the green mountains. Mosque of Mulai Idris is built in 810 AD.
  • Taroudant - Souss-Massa-Drâa. Well preserved historical city with almost intact 6 km long fortification walls. Flourished in the 16th century.
  • Medina of Tétouan - Tangier-Tétouan. Well preserved Moorish town, founded in the 8th century. Here came many Moorish refugees from Spain, bringing Andalusian influence to local art and architecture. surrounded by 5 km long wall.

Mosques

Koutoubia Mosque, Morocco
Koutoubia Mosque / Matt Kieffer, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Great Mosque of Taza - Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate. One of the oldest examples of Almohad architecture, built after 1142, walls completed in 1172. This mosque has influenced the design of Koutoubia Mosque.
  • Hassan Tower - Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer. Unfinished minaret of the intended largest mosque in the world. Built in 1195 - 1199, reached approximately half of its height - 44 m.
  • Hassan II Mosque - Grand Casablanca. Third largest mosque in world, with highest minaret in world - 210 metres high. Built in 1993. Half of mosque is built over Atlantic Ocean.
  • Koutoubia Mosque - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Large historical mosque, built in 1184 - 1199. Ornate mosque has 77 m tall minaret. This landmark building inspired Moorish architecture in coming centuries.
  • Tinmel Mosque - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Old mosque in the Atlas mountains, built in 1156.

Palaces

  • Bahia Palace - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Magnificent palace, built in the late 19th century.
  • Telouet Kasbah (Kasbah El Glaouis) - Souss-Massa-Draâ. Enormous, ornate palace, built in the late 19th - early 20th century. Uninhabited and partly in ruins.
Ornament in Bou Inania Madrasa, Morocco
Ornament in Bou Inania Madrasa / Patrick Barry, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Educational buildings

  • Bou Inania Madrasa - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. One of most beautiful Islamic buildings. Islamic learning center, founded in 1350 AD. Very ornate example of Marinid archtiecture.
  • University of al-Karaouine - Fès-Boulemane. This madrasa is world's oldest continuously operating educational institution which was founded in 859 AD. Currently operates as university. Contains enormous mosque with austere design.

Other man made landmarks

  • Almoravid Koubba - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Small, ornate building, constructed in 1117 AD. Valuable example of Almoravid architecture, built to provide place for ablutions before prayer. Interior has very rich ornamentation.
  • Menara Gardens - Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz. Historical gardens, set in the 12th century. Orchards and historical architecture look great with the Atlas mountains serving as the background.

List of described attractions by regions

Morocco is divided into 16 regions:

Chaouia-Ouardigha
Doukkala-Abda
Fès-Boulemane
Gharb-Chrarda-Béni Hssen
Grand Casablanca
Guelmim-Es Semara
Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia El Hamra
Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz
Meknès-Tafilalet
Oriental
Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira
Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer
Souss-Massa-Drâa
Tadla-Azilal
Tangier-Tétouan
ArrowMsoura stone circleMegaliths, Ancient and prehistoric cemeteries
Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate

Map of Morocco

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