Monthly Archives: October 2013

Best Books on Moroccan Decor, Your Morocco Tour Guide

World Design by Herbert Ypma

The French designer Yves Saint Laurent remarked of Marrakech that “This city leads me to color.” Morocco has fascinated many designers with its wealth of color and diversity of islamic design for the last century.  The color in Morocco’s bright zellij tiles, woodwork, silver jewelry and cedar hand-crafted ceilings blend effortlessly with modern interior design. Morocco’s winding medina street scenes, colorful souks, majestic gardens and palaces provide the perfect inspiration to adorn a home.

There are many fine coffee table books that reveal the hidden beauty of Moroccan décor and the various ways in which the novice can create their own interiors using Moroccan products and motifs. Some of the best books on Moroccan decor are:

Moroccan Interiors by Lisa Lovatt-Smith  – This book explores the diversity of contemporary modern design  in Morocco, contrasting the simplicity of  the rural environment with the ornamental Andalusian style of Morocco’s Imperial Cities. The variety of styles and the immediacy of colors of modern Moroccan design has won it its place in international interior design.

Marrakesh by Design, Maryam Montague

Marrakesh by Design  by Maryam Montague – Marayam Montague writes an award winning blog “ My Marrakesh” and has her own magnificent home and guest house Peacock Pavilions, in Marrakesh. In  Marrakesh by Design she advises  the reader about how to create their own Moroccan inspired interiors  blending elements of decorated tiles, colored walls and sculptured ceilings and the Andalusian ideals of ornamental gardens and fountains.  The well illustrated book, Marrakesh by Design, shows the reader how villas and riads in Marrakech have created their own modern day interiors. Montague discusses ideas and projects that people can use while decorating their homes.

Montague also advises her readers on how treasures bought in the souks of Marrakesh can be incorporated into the modern home and used to inspire distinct Moroccan character. Moreover she explains why certain design features have predominated in Moroccan homes. The book is also an introduction into Morocco’s diverse culture and history and its impact on style. The book has splendid photographs making it a stylish coffee table book for the home.

Morocco Modern-World Design by Herbert Ypma – This is an innovative visual resource book for all interested in interior design for the home. Herbert Ypma  follows the origins of Morocco’s greatest creative  traditions and craftsmanship. She conveys has contemporary designers continue to us these ancient skills fusing the traditional and the modern. The book is lavishly illustrated with 171 color photographs .

The Villas & Riads of Morocco, Corinne-Verner

The Villas and Riads of Morocco by Corinne Verner – The Villas and Riads of Morocco showcases palatial residences in Fes and Eassouira, riads in Marrakesh and converted kasbahs. With more than 200 photographs, this book reveals the treasures of Moroccan design. It features the fusion  of new concepts  with the highest quality materials including  luxurious Berber carpets, Rabati textiles, marble, along with intricate carvings and mosaics. The book offers an overview of the cultural history of Moroccan riads and palaces with their centrally placed courtyard gardens.

Morocco Design Decor by Philippe Saharoff & Francesca Torre – This is a small coffee table book is packed with authentic Moroccan interiors many of them typical of modern designs widely used in Marrakesh. There is excellent detail on commonly used features  such as zellij tiles, painted wood and lanterns. This is the perfect practical guide for Moroccan home decor.

Morocco – Mark Luscombe & Dominic Bradbury  – Published by Conran this is a good all round introduction to contemporary and traditional elements in Moroccan architecture and design from country houses to modern restored medina houses.

Living in Morocco: Design from Casablanca to Marrakesh by Lisl Dennis and Landt Dennis – Living in Morocco  covers the work of ancient  Moroccan craftsmenship which has been adapted to modern designs with exciting images of  ceilings, courtyards and tiled walls. The authors include information about the blue and white painted walls of  Chefchaouen in the north and the Kasbah’s and souk’s of the South. They also cover the history of Marrakesh’s iconic La Mamounia hotel and the deep blue of Yves Saint Laurent’s walls in the Majorelle Gardens. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of the interiors of houses and  Moroccan arts and crafts.

Written by Colin Kilkelly

For More Information Books on Moroccan Decor or a Morocco Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.
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Rabat and Salé, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Avenue Hassan II Rabat

Avenue Hassan II Rabat

Rabat, the capital  of Morocco retains a charming  relaxed atmosphere  in the center despite its 1.2 million population. Magnificent tall palm trees stretch down the main Avenue Hassan II passing the main station and the red Parliament building opposite the well known and classically Art Deco  Balima Hotel. Balima Hotel in Rabat was used to be the premier hotel year ago  with locals and tourists sitting in the open air café area. Cafes and patisseries are abound in Rabat like most other Moroccan cities. International five star hotels  now include the Sofitel Jardin De Roses, Golden Tulip, La Tour Hassan and the Dawliz. Rabat is also home to several charming Riads with private gardens and courtyards such as Villa Mandarine, Riad Kalaa and Riad Art.

Rabat is also a university city with the famous Mohammed V University, as well as being the centre of government with ministries in the ministers’ quarter and the modern suburb of Rabat Agdal. The Ville Nouvelle has a 1930’s feel with its shops lining the streets. The towering spires of the Saint Peter’s  functioning Roman Catholic Cathedral also adorn the city center.

Rabat is still an important center for textiles and shirts are good value. However change has come to the Moroccan capital. The tram system is now fully functional and It has become an important offshore center and it is the headquarters of Maroc Telecom the main telecommunications company.

Rabat was recently awarded second place in “Top Travel Destinations of 2013” by CNN. It has also recently been named as a UNESCO world Heritage site. A new world class yachting marina catering for 248 yachts has been created on the banks of the Bouregreg river near neighboring  Salé.  A new bridge spans the river between the two cities. A major new tourism development program backed with substantial Gulf investment is boosting Rabat and Salé’s tourism appeal. Rabat is a noted green city with extensive forests. The Royal Dar Es Salam golf club is a world class course and there are good opportunities for riding.

There are a number of historic sites which have always drawn tourists to Rabat. The medina is smaller and less complicated than Fez or Marrakech but is still a place for good deals especially carpets and leather goods. There are picturesque views of the old harbor and battlements.

The city walls and gates surround the centre and the Royal Palace grounds called Mechaour which you can sometimes enter, though you have to keep to the main pathway. It reminds you that this is a Royal capital too.

The Chellah  Necropolis  is an historical ruin outside the main gates . It is a national treasure which was in existence in Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman times as the port of Sala Colonia but it was ruined in the tenth century and thereafter used by the Merinid dynasty as a necropolis. The Roman ruins of Sala Colonia have been excavated. It is one of the most striking ruins in Morocco with its Merenid  built walls and towers. From the Chellah there is an amazing view across The Bouregreg  river with Salé  and the rolling countryside beyond.

Bab Oudaia Rabat

Bab Oudaia Rabat

The Kasbah of the Oudaias  is the original site of the rabat or fort which gave the capital its name where the Sultan’s forces were stationed to keep rebellious Berber tribes under control. It was built by the Almohads and its walls are 10 ft thick and 30ft high. The Oudaias were an Arabic tribe that entered Morocco in the 13th century and served  the Sultan. The grand Bab Oudaia  gate with its decorative arches leading  in to the Kasbah was built by Sultan Yacoub el Mansour. Rabat became home to Arab and Jewish refugees from Spain and the white washed Andalusian houses  bear witness to this. The La Jamaa el Atiq mosque was founded by The Almohad leader Abdl Moumen in 1150 and is the oldest mosque in the city. There is also the Oudaia Palace museum dating from 1694 and the Andalusian garden. The museum displays traditional ceramic designs and has period furnishings in the apartments. There is also an impressive collection of Moroccan handicrafts including costumes, jewelry, pottery and tribal musical instruments and a replica of a Berber nomad tent.

Hassan Tower Rabat

Hassan Tower Rabat

The other great monument which tourists must see is the Hassan Tower which was built by the Almohad Sultan Yacoub el Mansour in 1199 as part of a building program which included the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech and the Giralda in Seville. When the Sultan died the building remained unfinished and the shock from the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755 brought down the marble pillars. The Tower remains as arresting a sight as Koutoubia in Marrakech. The King  Mohammed V mausoleum is nearby which also contains the tomb of King Hassan II and his brother  Prince Moulay Abdullah. The mausoleum is guarded by Royal guards in scarlet uniforms with a white burnous.

Neighboring Salé across the Bouregreg river was famous as the home of the Salé Rovers or Barbary pirates who had been expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Together with Rabat citizens they formed the Bouregreg republic which was eventually disbanded in 1818.The pirates raided as far afield as Iceland, Ireland and the Southern coast in England. The Austria navy bombarded Salé in 1829 as did the French navy.

Written by Colin Kilkelly

For More Information about a Rabat Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Kasbah Walking Tour, Marrakech’s Hip Neighborhood of the Medina

Marrakech Kasbah, Bab Agnaou

A Walking Tour through Kasbah, one of the Marrakech Medina’s Best Neighborhoods offers exploration inside its historic walls. Kasbah’s is a local Moroccan neighborhood that boasts Moroccan street fare, an authentic shopping experience, ancient sites and is the perfect pit stop for teat at sunset. Once a neighborhood that was on the edge of ruins, Kasbah, in the Marrakech medina is now the place to be.

You can start a walking tour at the Marrakech medina’s Kasbah mosque walls which are freshly painted white flanked by a towering minaret pink with turquoise decoration and green tiles. The Kasbah Square is entered though the great Bab Agnaou gate built by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th Century. The street leading to the mosque, the Passage Agnaou, is full of Berber jewelry shops, with large beaded necklaces, silver rings, handicraft stalls, spices and herbal remedies mixed with small stores, called hanouts. There are also antique shops selling carved wooden African artifacts found in this Marrakech hip neighborhood.

Saadian Tombs, Marrakech

A visit to the Saadian Tombs is a must. The Saadian tombs lie through a gateway at the end of the mosque founded by Sultan Ahmed El Mansour (1578-1603) and his successors. The exquisite cedar wood and stuccowork and high white columns are one of the glories of Marrakech. The tombs were rediscovered and restored during the French Protectorate in 1917. For lunch an ideal stop is The Kasbah Café, which offers local Moroccan fare that can be eaten on its terrace with views of the medina and the Kasbah mosque.

Moroccan Local Artisan Naive Paintings

As you walk down to the Place Moulay Yazid, you can see a more local view of handicraft shops, herbalists mixed with small hanouts that serve the local community.

For the ultimate shopping experience and fixed prices stop at the The Ensemble Artisanal. The Ensemble Artisanal is a store crammed with handicrafts, caftans, Moroccan baboosh and other typical tourist items. There is an elevator to the second floor where you can find carved and decorated wooden furniture, more handicrafts and a whole room filled with bronze horses, lions, elephants and tigers and ornate metal lamps. The third floor has an impressive collection of furniture.
The shops peter out as you move down the long street, but before they do, a small gem reveals itself. It is a calligraphy shop that displays colorful and delightful traditional naive paintings of figures on wooden tablets. Islamic art generally prohibits the painting of the human form but naïve painting, which is not Islamic in inspiration, escapes this ban. These charming naïve figures depicting Moroccan family life make good presents for the children.

Kasbah Cafe, Marrakech

A great way to end the afternoon is at La Sultana, one of Marrakech’s most exotic and luxurious Riads that is on the boutique hotel of the world hot list. This stylish yet elegant Riad filled with European and African antiques is epic Moroccan style with a European twist La Sultana’s rooftop terrace is a coveted place to sip tea or have a glass of wine to unwind at sunset.

For More Information about a Walking to in Marrakech’s Kasbah

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Colorful Chefchaouen, Morocco’s Idyllic Escape, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Chefchaouen, Blue and White Washed City

Chefchaouen lies inland from Tangier and Tetouan. Chefchaouen is a unique Moroccan city known for its blue and white washed medina walls that surround it. Filled with old world charm, a walk through Chefchaouen’s blue alleys  evokes being in a magical story book, similar to Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights. An early morning stroll through Chefchaouen’s  winding streets is a great to discover this Riffian town famous for fresh goat cheese, local crafts and peaceful setting.

Chefchaouen was originally a small fortress town founded by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami to resist the Portuguese expansion in Morocco. Built up by Jewish and Muslim occupants in 1471 Chefchaouen served as a refuge for those who fled Andalusia following the Reconquista led by the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

When Spanish troops occupied Chefchaouen, or Chaouen,as the locals call it, in 1920 as part of the Spanish Protectorate in the north of Morocco, they found the population still speaking an archaic form of Catalan which they had brought with them centuries before. It was a closed city to Europeans until 1920 and was only visited in disguise at the risk of a european’s life. Charles de Foucauld and Walter Harris were amongst only 3 foreign visitors. Chefchaouen was returned to Morocco on its achieving independence in 1956.

Chefchaouen’s medina is a delightfully picturesque maze of streets and derbs leading to the Outa el-Hammam square and the restored kasbah. The grand 15th century Tarik Ben Ziad mosque has an octagonal minaret which was inspired by the Torre de Oro in Seville. It is part of the Andalusian influence on architecture found in the kasbah and its gardens in the heart of the medina. There is also a ruined Spanish replica of a mosque.

Chefchaouen Artisan

Chefchaouen’s main square in the medina is lined with cafes, craftsman, artists and weavers. Tourists can also visit the Kasbah near Plaza Outa el Hammam and the museum in the medina. Chefchaouen’s Kasbah was built by the legendary ruler Moulay Ismail and is surrounded by gardens. Inside the Kasbah, there is also a museum containing antique weapons, musical instruments, berber artifacts and photographs of the old medina. The town boasts a number of excellent restaurants as well as some many charming Moroccan Riads and boutique hotels.

Morocco travelers can visit souks where they can find local products which are special to the region such as woven wool garments and blankets ,carpets, djellabahs, wooden furniture, pottery and artifacts .

View of Chefchaouen

View of Chefchaouen

The area around Chefchaouen is a hashish and cannabis growing region as it is the only crop that can be grown in the mountainous region. This may also partly account for the relaxed ambiance and you may well be offered some of the local product but smoking cannabis remains illegal, so tourists must avoid it as Moroccan laws are very strict and the penalties severe.

The name “Chaouen” refers to the mountain which dominates the town and is said to resemble the horns of a goat. Climbing one of the surrounding mountains and trekking in the hills is a popular excursion. You can visit the Talassemtane Park and climb the region’s highest mountain Jebel Lakraa at 2,159 meters or visit the Bouhachem Park. For the adventurous there is the Kef Toghobeit Cave, nearly four kilometres long and over 700 metres deep, one of the deepest caves in Africa. There is also the Achkour cascade (waterfalls) and a natural bridge called locally “the Bridge of God” to visit.

Chefchaouen is a delightful and relaxing excursion from Fes and also a great place to visit on a Morocco tour en route from Rabat to Fes.

For More Information about a Chefchaouen Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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