site zip: AF MA 0118 | neighborhood: Maps of Africa, Morocco, Morocco's Berbers | region: Home
Page Banner - a Morocco Bedouin camp

Images of Morocco

Read more about: Morocco Travel Guide

Morocco is a country that fills all the senses. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from culinary delights, exhilarating adventures, seemingly endless sandy beaches, colorful festivals, exotic architecture, birding -- all the way to the finer little treasures such as butterfly spotting. In no specific order, we list just some of the top attractions.

 

      Images of Morocco | Celebrations and Attractions

 

Morocco's Festivals and Celebrations

Festivals in Morocco are not just an excuse to have a giant party. They include culturally fueled extravaganzas that celebrate the age-old traditions of the Moroccan people. There are a number of different festivals throughout the year. Some are traditional, some celebrate the arts and others are geared toward the adventure seekers.

The Fantasia Festival

The Fantasia festival is also known as the Game of Gunpowder. The celebration is accompanied by expert horsemanship where a line of riders gallop forward in perfect formation before each firing a single shot in unison. The riders will typically perform at wedding receptions but other events have also called for the show, including some restaurants.

Festival of Fantasia, Beni Drar, Morocco

Above: Festival of Fantasia (Beni Drar near Oujda, Morocco)
[Attribution: Wikimedia Commons - Amjahed]

Ramadan and Eid Festival

Ramadan is observed in the 9th month of the Muslim calendar. It will therefore be celebrated at different times annually. It is a time when Muslims will fast from dawn to dusk and refrain from various physical needs. It is a time of purification to refocus on God. Ramadan is concluded with the Eid Festival which will last for several days.

The Rose Festival

The Rose Festival is held annually in the Dades Valley (also known as the Valley of the Roses); this is where much of Morocco’s rose water and rose oil is produced. The oil is very expensive because it takes around 3 thousand kilograms of rose petals to produce 1 liter of oil.  

The region is literally carpeted with pink Persian roses, leaving a sweet floral scent in the air. The festival celebrates the rose as a symbol of wealth and success and celebrates the harvest.

There is a large souk that opens up in the nearby town of El Kelaa MGouna and the festival is flavored with music and dance.

Where: In the oasis town of Kelaa-des-Mgouna.
When: Beginning or mid May

Festival of World Sacred Music

This is when all the mystics, dancers and chanters from all over the world visit the city of Fes in a festival of spirituality. It is a chance for visitors to experience some of the cultural traditions of Morocco.

Where: Fes
When: 8 – 16 June (dates may differ slightly from year to year)

Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival

The festival is based on Berber, African and Arabic songs that incorporates dance and is celebrated in the town of Essaouira. The traditions observed follow the Gnawa musical style that includes a combination of acrobatic dancing and music. It is a real treat for any music and culture loving visitor.

Where: Essaouira
When: June 21 – 24 (dates may differ slightly from year to year)

Video: Gnaoua World Music Festival (French)
[Attribution: Redalinho, YouTube]

Marrakech Popular Arts Festival

What an array of art and entertainment, not only from Morocco but has included of late entertainers from Europe and Asia as well. Visitors can expect to see snake charmers, folk singers, fortune tellers, actors, fire swallowers and more. Many of the ‘shows’ are found in the ruins of the old Badi Palace dating back to the 16th century, as well as in Djemma el Fna which is the main town square. Outside the city a Fantasia (synchronized horse riding) show is often seen.
Where: Marrakech
When: July

The Betrothal Festival

The festival is also known as the Imilchil Marriage Festival It is an annual event that commemorates the legend of two lovers from different tribes who were not permitted to marry and died of grief and longing. To remember the couple tribes annually gather together and the unmarried ladies of each tribe is given the opportunity to choose a husband from another tribe. Up to forty couples get married at the festival that is held in Imilchil near Marrakech.

Where: The town of Imilchil near Marrakech
When: August or September

Imilchil Marriage Festival, Morocco
[Attribution: AtlantiConnection]

Erfoud Date Festival

The Erfoud region is the date capital of Morocco where over a million date palms are grown. The date harvest ends with a festival that lasts for 3 days. Visitors who would like to attend can expect see Berber tents and people, traditional dancing, music and food. A highlight is the Dromedary (camel) race that will add some excitement to the visit.
Where: Erfoud
When: October

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

 

Morocco's Beaches

As a country with thousands of miles of coastline it is understandable and even expected that it should offer idyllic sandy retreats, water sports and leisure. The Moroccan coastline is lapped by the waters of both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Seas.

Morocco's Tamuda Bay, Tetouan

Morocco's beach attractions include Tamuda Bay, Tetouan [attribution: VisitMorocco.com]

 

Moroccan Culinary Delights

Dance, music and religious rituals are all very important in Morocco but equally important is the cuisine. The main meal is eaten at lunch time except in the month of Ramadan when people are fasting and the main meal shifts to the evening.

Meat

As a predominantly Islamic country, pork is generally not available on the menu, however there is a wide selection of meats that spoil visitors for choice; lamb, chicken, beef, veal, mutton and a generous selection of seafood. A well known and delicious dish is tagine which is essentially a slow cooked meat and vegetable stew. Since the cooking time is quite lengthy, cheaper cuts of meat can be used. As the meat cooks it will tenderize making it a meal for all social and economic groups in Morocco. It is flavored with spices and vegetables and will often be served with couscous or chunks of bread. The bread is a wonderful ‘tool’ to soak up all the mouthwatering juices that accompany the tagine.

Spices

Spices in an earthen color kaleidoscope, is not only easy on the eye, when seen in the markets, but also add flavor and substance to Moroccan cooking. Spices that form the basis of all tagines and many other Moroccan recipes are salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric. Other spices also commonly used are cinnamon, saffron, paprika and cumin. A very well known and commonly used mix of spices is Ras El Hanout. The name means ‘Best of the shop’ and as recipes differ the mixture of spices can be as high as 30 different spices in a mix. Spices that frequent the recipes are cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, an array of peppers, and turmeric.

Spices on display in a Moroccan souk

Spices on diplay in a Moroccan Souk
[attribution: VisitMorocco.com]

Bread and Grains

Couscous is notably the staple grain in the Middle East. It is even known as Morocco’s national dish. There are a number of ways it can be served. The most common would be as a hot addition to a stew or other meat. It can also be served cold as a desert with added almonds, cinnamon and sugar. Another variation is to add buttermilk and serve it as a cold soup. Some have even served it with milk and honey as a breakfast.

A meal in Morocco without bread is not complete. Flatbread is baked daily and in some households, twice daily by the women of the house. It is essential for dipping and soaking up all the delicious juices that arrive on your plate.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetable are plentiful in Morocco and readily available in markets.

Drinks

As an Islamic country alcohol is not served in homes. The most popular drink is mint tea. It is actually a green tea infused with mint leaves. It is served at meal times but will also be served to visitors in any home. Contrary with meal preparation, the preparation of tea is one undertaken by the men in the family, more specifically the head of the household. It is rude to refuse a cup of tea as it is the drink of hospitality for Moroccans.

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

 

Souks – Morocco's open markets

Souks and outdoor markets are found throughout Morocco. Here customers can purchase anything from day to day groceries to authentic Moroccan arts, crafts and clothes. 

The smaller regional villages will each have a day in the week set aside when they are able to sell their wares. So, markets in the country side will take on a different look daily. In the cities however the souks take up large sections of city blocks. They are often sectioned into selling one theme of item such as clothing or a variety of textiles. Souk alleyways are for pedestrians and donkeys only. Remember that souks will generally close around 12:30pm on a Friday since it is a day of prayer.

A souk is a one stop shop, where patrons can visit a dentist, a pharmacy, an outdoor butcher or buy a carpet valued at a few thousand dollars. Pharmacies are a must see and almost resemble an alchemist’s store. Lotion and potions are available for anything from physical aches and pains to love potions.

Souk Spices Shop in Marrakech

A souk spices shop in Marrakech

Buying anything in a Moroccan market is an art in itself. Prices shown on items in the markets are indicators only and form the starting block for negotiations or better known as bargaining. Bargaining is an accepted practice and some will say it is even expected. A good tip is to shop around. Go to shops in the area to see what the fixed prices are in the stores before starting a bargaining process in the souks. This way you have an idea of what you could or should be paying for an item. Hiring a shopping guide might be a good idea to help with translation. Accepting a glass of mint tea from the vendor and spending some time with him is a good way to show you are serious about bargaining and will often yield the best price.

The markets are very busy and crowded and visitors should carry only the bare minimum. Larger purchases can be made with credit cards but it is advisable to pay with Moroccan Dirham for smaller purchases.

Although found all over the country the biggest souks are found in the cities of Fes and Marrakech. Two more notable souks are in the city of Tangier and a Berber mountain market souk in Chechaouen.

Marrakech souk

The public plaza in Marrakech was once an execution site but today is a hive of activity. Its name is Jemaa el Fna, translated actually means ‘assembly of the dead’. The life in the plaza is a stark contrast to its past and visitors today will see vividly dressed water sellers and dancers who add to the ambience of the plaza.

Jemaa el Fna Square, Marakesh

Jemaa el Fna Square, Marakech
[attribution: posztos (colorlab.hu), Shutterstock.com]

Behind the plaza is a maze of alleyways and passages lined with little stores that make up the Marrakech souk. It is here that one can bargain for anything from spices to babouches (leather slippers) to jewelry and clothing.

Souks near Jemaa el Fna place Marakech

Souk near Jemaa el Fna place, Marakech
[attribution: Pozzo Di Borgo Thomas, Shutterstock.com]

Fes souk

In Fes the market is more practical and caters to the local people who shop for their daily needs here. They come for the vegetables, spices and meats. Meat stalls are usually in one area and should probably be avoided in the afternoon since the ‘aroma’ may have turned south by then. Meat markets are open air and include anything from goat heads to sheep feet.

There is a very good tannery in Fes, so the selection of leather goods is very good. Look out for purses, babouches (soft slippers) and other very nice leather goods. It is possible to visit the tanneries but be warned that they are a bit stinky.

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

 

Fes Tannery

The best known tannery in Morocco is undoubtedly in Fes. Alongside the Leather Souk it is a very big tourist attraction. The tannery is very old, dating back to at least 9 centuries and the process of softening and coloring the leather has changed very little over the centuries. The Fes tannery is the oldest in the world. It is however a very smelly place and should be approached with this knowledge. Some will take along mint leaves to hold close to the nose to help with the odor. Braving the olfactory assault is worth it though; it is quite fascinating to watch as the workers plunge the hides into stone vats/tanks repeatedly. The tanks are arranged next to each other so that from an aerial view they resemble a honeycomb. Some are used to clean the leather with ammonia (actually acidic diluted pigeon feces) and others are used to dye the leather into vibrant earthy colors. Dye colors are derived from vegetables and spices such as henna, saffron and mint.  

More amazing is the sheer work load involved in turning goat and sheep hide into works of art such as bags, coats, shoes and slippers. Men work this production line under trying conditions often bearing temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

Fes Tannery, Morocco

Fes Tannery, Morocco [attribution: Wikimedia Commons}
Above: Steve & Jemma Copley (left) and Michal Borowski | Below: Josep Renalias

Fez Tannery, Morocco

 

Bab Boujloud of Fes

The Blue Gate of Fes is probably one of the most famous in Morocco. It is a large gateway to the Fes Medina (old city), that serves a constant flow of people, donkeys and mopeds. Many of the locals use the gate to get to and from work and school.  

Bab Boujloud (Blue Gate) of Fe

Bab Boujloud (the Blue Gate) of Fes - [attribution: Wikimedia Commons - westonm]

Bab is the Arabic word for gate and the Blue Gate is actually quite a young one, built by the French as early as 1913. It sits next to the original gate that dates back to the 12th century. The French needed a gate with a large enough entrance to get troops through in case of a rebellion in the medina.

It is adorned with blue tiles on the outer edges of the arches and with green tiles on the inside in a pattern of stars and swirls. The colors too have their significance with blue being the color of Fez and green the color of Islam.

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

 

Kasbahs

The word Kasbah means fortress and was a safe haven and home for a local leader. They characteristically had no windows and were strategically built on hills or at harbor entrances, anywhere where they could have the strongest defense against an attack. Owning a Kasbah was also a sign of wealth. Morocco has been called the land of a thousand Kasbahs. As traders, pirates, sultans and scholars traveled across the desert they would seek out the Kasbahs as a safe stop over during their travels.

Sometimes the word Kasbah will refer to the old part of the city, also known as the Medina.

Aït Benhaddou

The Aït Benhaddou is a Ksar or fortified city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is located in the Souss-Massa-Draâ in central Morocco along the Ounila River. It is well known for its Kasbahs. The city lies along the old caravan route between the Sahara desert and Marrakech. The Kasbahs are slowly falling into disrepair with every rainstorm and currently there are only 10 families who still live here. The majority of the residents have moved to more modern living quarters on the other side of the river.

Taourirt Kasbah

Taourirt is one of the Aït Benhaddou Kasbahs and was previously a Glaoui palace. It is one of the best attractions in the town of Ouarzazate. It is a 300 room citadel situated at the convergence of 3 rivers; the Dadès, Draâ and Ziz. One of the best times to visit is at sunset when the desert to the south of Ouarzazate is breathtakingly beautiful as a sea of earthen color.

 Kasbah Taourirt on Avenue Mohammed V in Ouarzazate

Kasbah Taourirt on Avenue Mohammed V in Ouarzazate
[Attribution: Wikimedia Commons - Bjørn Christian Tørrissen]

Many visitors will use the town as their base with taking on excursions across the Draâ Valley and into the desert.

Kasbah des Oudaias

As with many cities in Morocco there are Kasbahs, museums and mosques but the Kasbah des Oudaias in Rabat is just plain beautiful. The houses in this part of the city are all painted white with blue parapets. The streets are quiet since there aren’t too many residents. Two of the most striking features of the Kasbah are the 11th century Kasbah Mosque and the 12th century Bab Oudaia which is the gate to the Kasbah. From the Kasbah des Oudaias visitors will be able to see gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and Sale, Rabat’s neighboring city. Probably the most visited part is

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

 

Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque

For a Muslim community a mosque is more than just a religious building where they go to pray. It is also a center for education and community discussions. The majority of the Moroccan population is Muslim and therefore there are Mosques in every city, town and village.

Casablanca’s Hassan II is considered to be the 5th largest mosque in the world but the largest in Morocco. The largest is believed to be Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Hassan II Mosque is built on an Atlantic Ocean peninsula. It was the late King Hassan II’s wish that the visitors to the mosque be reminded of the glory of God and the wonders he gave us. Vistas of the ocean are exquisite from the mosque.

Hasan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

Above: Hasan II Mosque, Casablanca
[Attribution: Wikimedia Commons - Remi Jouan]

Below: Interior of the western side of the main hall in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
[Attribution: Wikimedia Commons - Bjørn Christian Tørrissen]

Interior of the western side of the main hall in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.

It was designed by the French architect, Michel Pinseau. Building started 1986 and was completed in 1993, six years overdue. It is possible to accommodate 25,000 worshippers in an enormous room with a glass floor looking down on the ocean. Then another 80,000 worshippers can be accommodated in the adjacent courtyards. One of the most striking features is its 689 foot (210m) tall minaret.

Mosques are typically closed to non Muslims but the Hassan II mosque is open to the public and one hour tours are conducted. Some of the more modern features of the mosque are its electric doors; heated floors and a roof that can slide back to allow worshippers to see the sky from within the building.

Back to Images of Morocco menu | Morocco Travel Guide | Top of Page

Travel Store Link Africa Travel Guides and Books Binoculars - the wide range available Cameras - wide selection

Select from our choice of
Africa Travel Guides and Books
or
choose from a wide range of
Binoculars and Cameras
from Amazon.com

| Travel Links | African Travel Marketing Network (LinkedIn Group) |