Off the Beaten Path in Morocco
By Carissa Hickok
Morocco is a country that really has no comparison. Being geographically part of Africa, culturally part of the Middle East, and close enough to be influenced by Spain and France has given Morocco a unique culture and a vibe unlike any other country. Fans of beautiful architecture will be thrilled by the beautiful variety of influences on cultural landmarks here. Morocco can fulfill any sort of Arabian fantasy a person might have, and is great for solo and group travelers alike.
Morocco’s capital city and another beautiful coastal metropolis, Rabat is filled to the brim with amazing restaurants and historical sites. One of the most famous is the Kasbah – the remaining section of the old part of the city. It is entertaining enough to simply walk around this area – it promises great views of the Atlantic Ocean alongside its gorgeous blue and white architecture. Other popular tourist sites within the Kasbah include the Andalucian Gardens and Oudaias Museum.
Another promising tourist site is the city’s marina. In addition to being another beautiful view of the ocean, it is home to several other important historical sites, such as the Hassan Tower and Royal Mausoleum.
Morocco’s second-largest city and former capital is the closest thing one can get to visiting the ancient Arab world. The medina (old city) is a must-see while you are here. Although it is quite difficult to navigate, many travelers decide to simply immerse themselves in the plethora of activity going on around them. Many of the markets there still have a medieval feel to them – feel free to shop (and try to haggle) to your heart’s content. Also make sure to find a way up to the rooftop of one of the buildings for a breathtaking view of the entire old city.
If you have more interest in really old things, be sure to check out the University of Al Qarawiyyin. Founded in the year 859, it is the world’s oldest university still in operation – over 200 years before Oxford. Although non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the university’s library or mosque, it is worth the trip just to see the architecture of the exterior.
Located by the Straight of Gibraltar just miles from Spain, Tangier has a rich cultural history and possesses the title of Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city. In the early 19th century, before Morocco had become an independent sovereign nation, many Westerners saw it as a place where they could get a fresh start in life. Thus, many writers and diplomats immigrated here. It was also a known hideout for many international spies, achieving worldwide fame during the Cold War.
Like other Moroccan cities, Tangier also has a fascinating medina one can visit. However, unlike other cities with many individual historical sites, Tangier doesn’t possess many specific tourist destinations. Rather, the entire city can be considered one – the city’s narrow streets, bustling markets, and fishing ports are reason enough to visit.
By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As you can see, Morocco has much to offer for those seeking a bit of adventure or a glimpse into the past. The refreshingly welcoming locals and delicious food are a plus as well.
Carissa enjoys traveling so much that she left the corporate world to work as a freelancer, which allows her to up and go on a regular basis. She lives with her dachshund, Daphne in central Florida.
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