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Morocco Collage

Morocco occupies the rounded northwest corner of Africa, a key political and military vantage that has determined much of its history. The mixture of the cultures that have come here has made Morocco a fascinating place to visit. Even the city names -Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakesh- have become labels for mystery and intrigue.

Indigenous Berber tribes once claimed all of North Africa from the Atlantic to Egypt, but Phoenecians and Romans interfered relegating the Berbers to the mountains. The people of the desert and the mountains, however, survive as the foundation of Moroccan culture.

The spread of Islam in the late 7th century laid religious, demographic, and social layers in the laminate of modern Morocco. After a few centuries of dynastic reciprocating, the Alawite family emerged dominant and despite European insertions has been the royal family of Morocco since 1630.

Portuguese, Spanish, and French colonial influences have been significant -French is still a predominant diplomatic and governmental language choice- and have given Morocco a European flavor more obvious here than in other Arab countries.

Rabat, the least touristic of the major cities, has a museum of traditional art in the kasbah (citadel) that overlooks the Atlantic, and in the ancient ruins of nearby Sala (or Chella) you'll find Morocco's best archeological museum.

Destination Guides

Casablanca is a large industrial port city of over 3 million people with wide boulevards and parks designed by the French. You can still get a sense of the older city in the medina (ancient quarter), but you won't find Rick's Café Americain.

In the mountains Fez, with ancient walls and almost 10 thousand streets and alleys, and Marrakesh, whose market place is famous in song and in fact, have the bustle and the hustlers that have characterized tourism in Morocco. The souks (marketplaces) of these cities are still the best places to encounter the essence, in all senses, of Morocco.

Essaouira, down the Atlantic coast, has a beautiful beach, amazing windsurfing, great old forts, and a calmness you may seek after the markets of Marrakesh. Some of Orson Welles's Othello was filmed here.

Whether you browse the markets, sun on the beach, trek the mountains, visit a village, investigate a museum, or sip coffee in a café, you'll love the difference of Morocco.

For detailed highlights of Morocco, see our Featured Destination Guides.

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