Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Artists of Essaouira and Joutiya Market

Naive Artist Studio, Essaouira

Naive Artist Studio, Essaouira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The port city of Essaouira, on Morocco’s Southern Atlantic Coast, is known for its white-washed walled medina (old city), fabulous seafood from its working port, a windswept sandy beach great for watersports and swimming and its annual music festivals, which reflect its culturally diverse past. Essaouira is also known as a town of artists – both indigenous and international – who are inspired by the relaxed atmosphere, creative environment and fabulous light. The streets of the Essaouira medina are lined with boutiques and galleries, which present plenty of opportunities for purchasing locally produced pieces.

One famous gallery is the Galerie Damgaard near the clock tower. Danish collector Frederic Damgaard is credited with bringing the naive art of Swiris (native Essaouirans) to a wider, global audience. In the 1980s, he spotted the potential of self-taught local artists, many of whom were fishermen, farmers or members of the local Gnaoua brotherhoods of Muslim sufis who practice music, song and trance. Damgaard likened the style of these autodidactic artists, working in two and three dimensions, to the increasingly popular indigenous art of other cultures. Today, the work of the better-known artists such as Mohammed Tabal, Aberrahim Harabida and Fatima Ettalbi are regularly exhibited in Essaouira and internationally.

Joutiya Market Artist, Essaouira

Joutiya Market Artist, Essaouira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who seek direct contact with lesser-known artists, it is possible to visit their makeshift art studios in Essaouira’s quartier industriel (industrial quarter). The best time to visit is during the weekly Sunday flea market, known as the joutiya (from the French, jeter, to throw or discard), when an art tour can be combined with a rummage through the second-hand and antique treasures on the many stands lining the streets. You will also see junk stalls and architectural salvage yards where those restoring riad townhouses in the medina might find a period piece or a rare gem.

Joutiya Market, Expo

Joutiya Market, Expo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working with found materials, salvaged boards and other objects ripe for up-cycling, the Joutiya artists have their studios in unpaved alleyways running parallel to the ocean. They are surrounded by the materials of their craft: broken tiles, abandoned furniture, carpenter’s off cuts, shells and pebbles.

Joutiya Market Art, Essaouira

Joutiya Market Art, Essaouira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although you can find the work of the joutiya artists such as Abdelaziz Baki, Ali Maimoune and Asmah Ennaji in the medina, they are happy to welcome you in to their studios, where they exhibit the full range of their work. In Baki’s studio you will find brightly coloured sculptures of fantastical beasts – half bird, half fish or part man, part animal. He also decorates small pieces of furniture in his inimitable style featuring eyes (the evil eye is common theme in Islamic and Jewish cultures) and dots reminiscent of Aboriginal art. Asmah’s paintings feature solemn-faced portraits of doe-eyed subjects, sometimes so tightly crammed into the frame as to be disturbing. Others seem positively benevolent and gentle. Look out also for Filali, whose naive portraits of local characters, simply portrayed on chipboard, are comical and appealing in their lack of perspective or conformity to accepted norms. His portrayal of marrying couples – sometimes looking a little reluctant – make a quirky gift.

If you aren’t in town on a Sunday, the newly renovated Centre Artisanal (Artisans Center, opposite L’Heure Bleue) is also a great place to discover local arts and crafts.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Essaouira Art at the Joutiya Market or an Essaouira Tour

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, 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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The Caravan Routes of Morocco

52 Days to Tombouctou Sign, Zagora

52 Days to Tombouctou Sign, Zagora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a much-photographed sign in Zagora, in the spectacular Draa Valley in Morocco. Beside the image of a blue-swaddled desert nomad is written: “TOMBOUCTOU 52 JOURS.” The journey is considerably quicker today, but if you go by camel, it probably still takes 52 days. Zagora is a popular starting point for trips on camel back into the Sahara Desert and this famous sign gives some indication of the significance of this area back in the mists of history.

Camel caravans (or – more accurately – dromedary caravans, as it is the one-humped version that is used in the Sahara) have existed since the 3rd century; the last caravans were officially closed down during the French and Spanish Protectorates in 1933.

For centuries the camel trains were the main means of transportation of goods and people between North African ports and economic hubs (such as Marrakech and Fes), across the Sahara to sub-Saharan Africa and eventually the Levant. For example, the camels travelled from as far West as the Moroccan Atlantic Coast right across to Ethiopia and Sudan in East Africa. An important north-south trade was salt (from Morocco) with gold (from the then Ghana Empire). One of the key caravan routes connected Tifilalt in Morocco, one of the largest oases in the world; Sijilmassa, an important salt mine; Tindouf in the deep south of Algeria, and Timbuktu in Mali.

Map of Caravan Routes of Morocco

Map of Caravan Routes of Morocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloth, manufactured items and paper were brought in from Europe. On the return leg, they carried gold, slaves, ivory and ostrich feathers as well as beads and shells for currency. On the way, the traders may have picked up silver, salt, dates or handicrafts for exchanging on route. Slaves flowed in both directions, but particularly northwards. It has been estimated that from the 10th- 19th century, as many as 7,000 slaves were transported northwards into Morocco.

The procession of the camel train was a carefully planned affair. In previous times, the Sahara fringes and the Sahel were greener than today and the camels would be fattened for a number of months on the plains before being rounded into a caravan. The famous 14th century Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta, describes the size of the camel trains: 1,000 camels but occasionally as large as 12,000.

The leaders of this solemn procession were well-paid Berbers and Touareg tribesmen who literally knew the desert like the back of their hands. Along with their camel herds, this knowledge was a valuable commodity. Furthermore, they had invested time in building the relationships and connections necessary to ensure safe passage of the valuable cargo. The routes changed according to these allegiances, the rise and fall of economic might of different towns and cities and – importantly – the existence of rivers and oases, many of which in the desert are ephemeral and unpredictable. Runners would sometimes be sent ahead to oases to bring water back to the caravan because of the difficulty of transporting the water necessary between sources. It was not unusual for them to travel 3-4 days in each direction to provide this service.

The peak of the caravan trade coincided with the boom in the fortunes of the Islamic rulers of the greater Maghreb and Al-Andalus region, from the 8th century until the late 16th century. These routes were even responsible for the spreading of Islam from North Africa into West Africa. The decline was caused by improvements in maritime transport by the European powers and the discovery of gold in the Americas. However, the link between, for example, the port of Mogador (modern day Essaouira) and Timbuktu was significant as late as the 19th century, when Jewish traders in both cities exchanged goods and slaves from sub-Saharan Africa with produce imported from Europe and further afield, such as gunpowder tea from China.

Today, some sections of the routes are passable. In fact, many of the unmade trails used today by all-terrain vehicles to traverse the desert are actually the remnant of the old camel routes. Modern political tensions have made many Saharan borders impassable to tourists and travellers. However, the local tribesmen still know the routes and still use ancient navigation techniques passed down through the generations. It’s unlikely they would let a modern construct such as a line on a map hinder their passage!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Moroccan Caravan Routes from Zagora or a Morocco Tour 

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, 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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Best Regions for Hiking in Morocco

High Atlas Hiking, Toubkal

High Atlas Hiking, Toubkal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morocco is a trekker’s paradise with its diverse scenery and various levels of difficulty. With hundreds of miles to cover and many trekking paths in every region Morocco is a top choice for those looking to experience a trekking adventure. The best regions to trek in Morocco are the High Atlas, Anti Atlas, and the Great North.  In the High Atlas you can climb a mountain or walk in the Ourika Valley or in the beautiful village of Ouirgane gateway to scenic walks in the fields and forests of the Toubkal National Park and meet the local Berber people in their villages . To have these trekking opportunities so close to Europe means that a world of adventure awaits you with snow capped mountain peaks like Jebel Toubkal at 4167 meter canyons, rivers and waterfalls and the forests in the National Parks with their wildlife. If you want a day’s walk from the village of Azimiz or a ten day trek with an English speaking guide, these can be easily arranged and pre booked during a tailor made private trekking tour to Morocco.

Marrakech is within an hour or two’s reach of most trekking destinations. For serious trekkers a summit to Mount Toubkal can be arranged with a professional Berber guide who specialists in summiting Kasbah Toubkal. A Berber guide arranges a planned route and along with all equipment necessary for a 3 day summit. For a 3 day summit a combination of things to bring would be trekking boots, a good sized backpack, layers or clothing appropriate for three seasons, windbreaker and water bottles. On a 3 Day summit to Kasbah Toubkal you will stay in a Gitape at night and trek during the day with all local meals being served in Berber villages by locals and at the Gitape. Mule is included for equipment during your trek and led by your Berber guide.

Trekking is an all year round activity in Morocco however in the winter months you will encounter snow on the High Atlas and freezing temperature. The best time for trekking in Morocco is April to June when the weather is temperate and spring flowers carpet the valley floors.

Cedar Forrest Monkeys Ifrane

Cedar Forrest Monkeys Ifrane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another region famous for trekking Jbel Saghro. Jbel Saghro at 2,712 meters is less than 100 km south of the central High Atlas and overlooks the the Draa Valley and Dades valley in the Anti-Atlas. Jbel Saghro’s barren volcanic rock and deep ravines is home to the famous Ait Atta tribe. During a trek in the Jbel Saghro region you time is made to have lunch with a Berber family in Ait Ouzzine, a small village located in the Nkob region.

Located between the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas, Jbel Siroua at 3,305 is another prehistoric volcanic region perfect for trekking. The area extends over 350 km with valleys and canyons and fields on the mountain slopes. You can have fine views of the Jebel Mgoun at 4,068 meters in the Sous Massa Draa region and the picturesque Ait Bougmez valley some four hours from Marrakech. From Jbel Siroua trekking to Merzouga and the surrounding area is possible for those interest in desert scenery and a camel trek in the Sahara with a Nomadic guide.

An alternative to trekking in Southern Morocco is the option to trek in the Rif Mountain region which is not part of the Atlas Mountain chain. In North of Morocco the nature offers a different environment for trekking. In the South it is arid and dry with valley views whereas in the North the trekking offer lush, green views as this region receives far more rain then the South of Morocco trekking.

 Talassemtane National Park, Chefchaouen Region

Talassemtane National Park, Chefchaouen Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Morocco’s North, there are fabulous vistas, streams and lakes with great forests of cedar, oak and fir in the Talassemtane National Park, at Jebel Taloussisse and Jebel Lakraa. During a Northern Morocco trekking experience you will see Barbary Apes, eopards, wild boars, eagles, lizards and many species butterflies. You can also meet the local Berber population who till the fields in small villages and hamlets amidst the forests. The Northern part of Morocco is a less frequented trekking area by tourists than in the south of Morocco and offers an enchanting and peaceful trekking experience. The Berbers travel by donkey or on foot and vehicles area rare sight.

A Rif Mountain to the Jbel Lakraa Summit which is at 2154Meters is the ideal trek in this region. Trekkers can hike to the highest Summit in Talassemtane National Park through a magnificent Cedar Forrest.

Regardless of your level of experience and fitness, Morocco offers many options for trekkers alike.

For more information on Morocco Trekking in the Atlas.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 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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5 Fabulous Courtyard Gardens in Marrakech

Marrakech Riad Courtyard Garden

Marrakech Riad Courtyard Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marrakech is a city of light and vibrant color. From it’s bustling souks to new museums and art galleries, wide Moroccan restaurants, lavish designer hotels and opulent riad gardens there is something for everyone. There’s no better place to take it all in then one of Marrakech’s fabulous courtyard gardens. Riad courtyard gardens are intimate spaces filled with lush, leafy green flora and fauna often centered around a stone or marble fountain filled with rose petals.  In the majority of Moroccan courtyard gardens roses and oranges are grown and in every home courtyard garden a mixture of exotic spices that are brought from Mecca. A Marrakech courtyard garden should be part of a Morocco travelers experience when visiting the city particular in spring and summer. Riad Courtyard gardens serve as the perfect escape to read a book, enjoy a typical Moroccan meal, a sunset cocktail or simply decompress and take in the sights and sounds.

5 fabulous riad courtyard gardens in Marrakech worth visiting are:

Palais Lamrani Courtyard, Marrakech

Palais Lamrani Courtyard, Marrakech

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palais Lamrani is an authentic nineteenth century palace riad with an extraordinary lush garden filled with orange trees, roses bushes, frequent bird visitors an a sense of interior calm. The owners, a remarkable French couple, Noemie and Eric offer a private riad experience for luxury travelers. The Palais has six suites, a swimming pool, a traditional Moroccan Hammam /Spa and terraces that over look the High Atlas Mountains.

Riad Enija Courtyard Garden, Marrakech

Riad Enija Courtyard Garden, Marrakech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riad Enija is owned by a Swedish architect Bjorn Conerdings and Swiss designer Ursula Haldimann.  This Maison d’Hotes is made of several riads seemed together with many exotic courtyards and sprawling terraces. Named after their daughter, Enija, it boasts tropical style plants and opulent gardens. Lavish fountains filled with flower petals can be found around every corner during an afternoon stroll. The design of the riad is both sophisticated and eclectic with Ursala having traveled the world collecting textiles, furniture and art all, which have made their way into every room on the property. Ideal for the laid back luxury traveler this riad with secret courtyard gardens guarantees the comfort of a home.

Dar Donab, Marrakech Courtyard Garden

Dar Donab, Marrakech Courtyard Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dar Donab is located in the Dar El Bacha region of the Marrakech medina. This typical Moroccan riad has stunning traditional architecture and quite an intimate setting for a day at leisure. The courtyard at Dar Donab is arranged around a swimming pool and gurgling fountains. Dating from the eighteenth century, this riad was once part of the Dar El Glaoui’s Palace. The courtyard garden remains authentic with its zellij tile work and Andalusian style patio paved with marble. A haven of peace this courtyard garden is perfect for an afternoon cocktail or late lunch just before sunset when the light is at its peak.

Palais Sebban Marrakech Courtyard Garden

Palais Sebban Marrakech Courtyard Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palais Sebban located in the popular Moussine district of the Marrakech medina is a hidden jewel of Moroccan-Andalusian architecture. This charming boutique riad has a breathtaking courtyard with a stylized hanging garden dripping from it’s rooftop terrace. Originally constructed around the  residence of Caíd  Sebban, this nineteenth century palace has three courtyards, hand painted rooftops, frescos carved in plaster and antiques of historic significance can be found in every nook and cranny. Lunch or Dinner in the courtyard of Sebban or even afternoon tea completes a long day after exploring the Marrakech souks.

Villa Des Orangers Courtyard Marrakech

Villa Des Orangers Courtyard Marrakech

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villa Des Oranges is a stylish Marrakech boutique hotel with a truly romantic courtyard garden perfect for all seasons. A Relais & Chateaux property it is one of the best medina retreat experiences Marrakech has to offer. A French couple, Pascal and Veronique Beherec discovered this riad on a trip to Morocco in 1998 and then began the creation of a luxury this hotel that combines sophistication with luminous textures, fabrics, Moroccan woodwork and further development of the garden. It took nine months to restore the traditional Moroccan house using local artisans in Marrakech. Elegance combined with the cozy essence of a home, salons with fireplaces, private terraces and views of the Atlas are just a few good reasons to stay at Villa Des Orangers. Just a 2 minute walk to the place Djemma El Fna, Villa des Orangers is a veritable oasis of calm. With three green patios and trickling fountains, harmony can be found here.

For more information on Marrakech Riads and Courtyard Gardens.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 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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Fes Food, Eating Well in Fes

Riad Dar Roumana, Fes

Riad Dar Roumana, Fes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fes is the culinary and cultural capital of Morocco. The city of Fes is a leader in Moroccan cuisine. The ancient traditions of Fes cuisine come alive at a variety of riads and restaurants throughout the old city of Fes. New on the scene are a wide variety of boutique riads that have opened their doors to the public and are merging traditional Fassis table cuisine with French and International flavors. Morocco Travel Specialist, Alecia Cohen, takes a look at the best places to dine and experience cuisine in Fes to tempt your pallets on a Morocco Tour.

The world famous Fes Sacred Music Festival takes place each June and Dar Roumana’s restaurant at 30 Derb el Amer Zkak, Roumane in Fes Medina is open daily offering pre-concert dinners from 6pm – 8pm Dar Roumana and they also offer a smaller menu (2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts) for a reduced price of 300dh for three courses or 225dh for two courses. For those not attending the festival Dar Roumana’s usual dinner service will continue as normal from 7.30pm – 9pm. It is essential to book well beforehand during this busy period. Dinner is served in the patio and on the terrace with spectacular views of the medina and includes varied delicacies such as roasted beetroot, orange, mint and feta salad, spiced roasted quail with dried fruit orzo, moroccan fishcakes with cucumber and radish ribbon salad and sweet harissa dipping sauce, baked chicken thighs with honey, hazelnut and saffron with carrot and cumin mash. Dar Roumana is run by husband and wife team Vanessa and Vincent. Vincent is a Le Cordon Bleue certified chef and serves up a great table in Fes. Vanessa and Vincent are fabulous hosts and dining at Roumana is a must when in Fes.

The garden restaurant attached to Riad Idrissy at 13 Derb Idrissi, Sieje, Sidi Ahmed Chaoui, referred to as the Ruined Garden, is set in the romantic remains of a crumbling riad which has been turned into a delightful garden, with mosaic floors, fountains and exotic foliage. Lunch is prepared using fresh produce from the souk and includes salads – such as zaalouk (smoky aubergine, tomato and paprika puree) and tfaya (chickpeas, onions, raisins and cinnamon) – and street food, cooked to order in the garden, such as sardines marinated in chermoula (garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice) with a polenta batter and makuda, spiced battered potato cakes. Afternoon tea is a blend of English and Moroccan, including tea made from homegrown mint and wormwood. After 7pm, the garden is open for dinner by prior arrangement only, offering mechoui lamb (anything from a leg to a whole animal) cooked for seven hours over charcoal, Sephardic suppers and Roman banquets. The ruined garden at Riad Idrissy will operate as a festival green room – where artists, journalists and the audience can mingle between the Fes Sacred Music Festival concerts. Opening hours are between 12 noon and 9.30pm. There is also the great boon of no background music.

Another great lunch and dinner venue in Fes is Palais Amani at 12 Derb el Miter, Oued Zhoune.This imposing Art Deco former palace has superb gardens Is known for excellent high class Moroccan cuisine and you can dine in the restaurant or the patio, booking is essential.

Restaurant Numero 7 Fes, Chef in Residence

Restaurant Numero 7 Fes, Chef in Residence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Numero 7 has a rotating Chef in residence program that uses seasonal produce sourced from the markets in Fes and nearby farms for its cuisine. Located in the heart of Moroccan gastronomy each chef in residence utilizes Numero 7 as their center stage to create a table of unique cuisine through their own interpretation. Numero 7 is owned by Stephen di Renza, a former fashion director for Neiman Marcu and Bergdoff Goodman. He divides his time between Fes and Mararkech. Di Renzi is also the creative director of the Yves Saint Laurent Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech. Numero 7 is a must dine experience for those interested in modern, creative cuisine with a Moroccan touch.

La Maison Bleue offers a classic table in Fes and reservations are also necessary at this elegant riad restaurant. The setting is intimate and romantic, with diners serenaded by an oud player (replaced by livelier Gnawa song and dance at the end of the evening). You’ll be treated to an array of cooked salads, tajines, couscous and bastilla (savoury pastries), plus filo pastry desserts.

At Dar El Ghalia, a restored 18th century palace you will find Dar Tajine, one of the best known restaurants in Fes. You can choose from set menus or à la carte: there are salads, excellent Harira, grills, fresh fish, tagines and couscous.

Chez Vittorio is in the rustic Italian restaurant angle well, right down to the candles and checked cloths. The food is good value, Go for the pizzas or steak and enjoy the wine.

Dar Anebar is a riad you can dine in fne surroundings, in the splendid courtyard, or one of the cosy salons. The menu is strictly Moroccan, but of the highest standard, and wine is available.

Palais Jamaï is a five-star hotel has a superb position overlooking the medina. There’s a French restaurant and a Moroccan restaurant. At lunch they serve a good buffet on the terrace above the pool (or in the dining room in winter): there’s the salad buffet, or the salad buffet with barbecue and dessert.

Fes is truly international and Kiotori restaurant offers sushi with a Japanese chef.

Café Clock is a restored town house and is an important and highly original cultural centre which offers a varied menu with offerings such as falafel, grilled sandwiches, some interesting vegetarian options, a substantial camel burger, and delicious cakes and tarts. It is open right through the day into the evening so you can eat whenever you want.

Fes Cafe, Jardin Des Biehn

Fes Cafe, Jardin Des Biehn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fez Café is set in a fine garden in Le Jardin des Biehn, Dinner is available both before and after and during concerts.

Le Kasbah restaurant is on several floors at Bab Bou Jeloud, and occupies a prime spot: the top floor looks out over the medina, making it a good place to relax over food. The menu is traditional Moroccan fare, tajines, couscous and grilled meat.

Fes is famed for its street food and probably the most well known establishment is Thami’s at Bou Jeloud, 50 Serrajine in the Medina. It is highly recommended by the website “The View from Fez.” They recommend Thami’s kefta tagine with egg, the melange and the fish. Fes has many such small establishments and a visit to the vegetable and spices souks will enrich your knowledge and appreciation of Moroccan daily life and the variety of its cuisine even in very simple establishments.

And for those who want the intimacy of a leafy garden, try Ryad Mabrouka as this delightful guesthouse in the warmer months is perfect for lunch, or in winter in the 1st-floor dining room overlooking the medina. Traditional fare is served in a three-course set menu, and wine is available. It’s necessary to book 24 hours in advance. 

For more information Fes Food or a Fes Tour.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 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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Moroccan Kasbah’s of the Great South, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Ait Benhaddou, Kasbahs of the Great South

Ait Benhaddou, Kasbahs of the Great South

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moroccan Kasbah was a place for the local Caid or Pacha to live in and a place of defense when a city was under attack not unlike the medieval European keep. Sometimes, they were built on hilltops so that they could be more easily defended such as the famous Ait Benhaddou near Ouarzazate. It is no accident that many great films like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator were filmed here because it retains the character and atmosphere of centuries ago when it was an important post on the camel caravan route from Africa to Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou Kasbah was a busy teeming Ksar (a fortified town) with fortified towers and reinforced walls. Inside the Ksar, there was a central mosque surrounded by family homes, communal areas and small palaces. In its earlier history, Ait Benhaddou is believed to have housed thousands of inhabitants. It was composed of six Kasbahs and nearly fifty houses, made with red pisé and connected through a complex maze of narrow streets. Visitors can step straight into the medieval past and it is a great place to take the family to explore.

Valle of One-Thousand Kasbahs, Skoura Palmeraie

Valle of One-Thousand Kasbahs, Skoura Palmeraie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morocco’s Southern region and in particular the region of Skoura is referred to the “Valley of one-thousand Kasbahs,” referring to the way-stations of ancient caravan routes traveled by tradesmen and adventurers. They brought with them customs and crafts, beliefs and skills, and they sought shelter and social interaction within secure Kasbah walls.

Skoura has superb Kasbahs on its doorstep, including the ruins of the Kasbah Amerhidil, and it is an excellent base from which to explore the Dades Valley, the Todra Gorge and the Valley of the Roses.

The Glaoui Kasbahs at Telouet and Taourit are also historic sites to visit on a Morocco Tour. Telouet, the seat of Thami El Glaoui Pacha of Marrakech under the French is an imposing ruin with a central living area which is relatively well preserved with the Glaoui’s living quarters bedecked in flowered zellij tiles looking out on to the village of Telouet. Kasbahs were also fortified mansions built by the rich and powerful caids and local feudal leaders. Kasbah Taourit is another imposing Glaoui Kasbah in Ouarzazate the capital of the South. The Krupp cannon which founded the fortunes of the Glaoui’s which enabled them to dominate rival tribes still lies outside Kasbah Taourit.

Ksar Ighnda Boutique Kasbah Hotel

Ksar Ighnda Boutique Kasbah Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the centuries Morocco’s strong and enduring Kasbahs have kept silent vigil guarding communities from potential attack which was all too common in the feudal era which lasted right up to the 1950’s chronicled in Gavin Maxwell’s epic account “Lords of the Atlas.”

Some of Morocco’s finest boutique riads and hotels are now converted Kasbahs. Built or rebuilt in traditional style, they have been renovated to accommodate tourists in luxury and style.

A few of the best examples are found in Ouarzazate and Skoura region. In the Ait Benhaddou Region, Riad Ksar Ighnda is a restored Kasbah with modern architecture that offers a luxury experience and stay inclusive of a private pool, roof top dining, a Hammam and is away from the city center.

In Skoura there are boutique riad guests houses, Les Jardins Des Skoura and Kasbah Ait Ben Damiette, converted Kasbahs that are French owned and offer up luxurious stays surrounded by gardens. Both are located in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie.

More Kasbah’s are being renovated and turned into boutique hotels and guesthouses to offer Moroccan travelers an exciting authentic experience.

The most well known Kasbah Hotel in Skoura is Dar Ahlam, “Dream House” which is an an opulent boutique hotel in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie. Built around a labyrinthine converted Kasbah from the early 20th century, this luxurious property consists of nine suites and three private villas in the attractive gardens with a large swimming pool.

Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot is another well-known luxury Kasbah Hotel located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. This property offers fantastic service, a beautiful spa, restaurant, and a stunning mountain backdrop.

Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Ourika Valley offers outstanding views of the High Atlas and is a great value place to stay with friendly staff and fantastic food made from produce from their own garden.

At Imlil at the foot of Jebel Toubkal with breathtaking terrace views of the peaks and valleys, Kasbah Du Toubkal is the perfect base for exploring the Atlas Mountains and experiencing Berber culture.

Today, as as Morocco traveler, the ancient Kasbahs of the Great South can be discovered through historic visits on a private tour and visitors also have the opportunity to stay in one.

For more information about Ancient Kasbahs of Morocco’s Great South or a Kasbah Tour.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 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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The Moroccan Music Scene, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Gnaoua Festival, Essaouira Place du marché aux Grains

Gnaoua Festival, Essaouira
Place du marché aux Grains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Marrakech’s Djemaa El Fna Square amongst the orange juice stalls and story tellers you will find stalls with CD’s testifying to the popularity and importance of Morocco’s contemporary music scene which began with the accession of King Mohammed VI in 1999 when greater liberalization of musical genre especially for young people who sought music which reflected their aspirations was gradually phased in and supported with musical festivals organized with royal support and sponsorship like the annual Mazawine Music Festival in Rabat, The Gnawa Festival in Essaouria and the World Sacred Music Festival in Fez. Moroccan TV and radio channels also play an important role with live performances. The Moroccan contemporary music scene and its festivals have successfully fused elements of its ancient Berber musical traditions with modern music such as Chaabi, Hiphop and Rai and Rap.

Traditional Berber folk village music called Ahwash, is very much alive and is on display in July each year at the National Festival of Popular Arts at the Badii Palace in Marrakech. The music performed by professional musicians called Raiss includes comedy and dances in their performances.

Ouarzazate Festival Hadous Musicians

Ouarzazate Festival Hadous Musicians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two famous traditional musical bands are Bachir Attar’s Master Musicians of Jajouka who originally met with Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones in 1969 and recorded with them. Their music celebrates the pagan rites centered on the figure of Boujeloud who has been likened to Pan. They perform regular concerts in Morocco and abroad including the United States and Germany playing with international musicians. They recently featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown “ program on CNN. The other traditional band is the Daqqa of Marrakech who perform a ritual dance for the religious festival of Ashura.

Chaabi is a popular music descended from Moroccan folk music. Originally performed in markets, it is now performed during celebrations or meetings. Chaabi songs end with a swift rhythmic section and syncopated clapping. Modern instruments like electric guitars and buzuks are also used as well as lutes and a drum.

Andalusian classical music called Al Ala was brought to Morocco following the Reconquista in Spain when Muslims and Jews were forced to leave. It is an urban form of music which is highly popular and performed with large orchestras frequently on TV and radio. Jewish musicians had a profound influence on Al Ala.

Gnawa was brought to Morocco by Sub-Saharan Africans and later became part of the Moroccan tradition. Much of the modern fusion draws on Gnawa and the annual Essaouira Gnawa Festival is now broadening its musical performances to include a more contemporary repertoire.

Classical Malhum which translates as “gift” or “inspiration” is Arabic in origin and is derived from Sufi inspired Arabic Andalusian poetry.

Sufi Brotherhoods (tarikas) are widespread in Morocco, and music is an integral part of their spiritual tradition. The purpose is to induce a trance state which inspires mystical ecstasy. Leading Sufi Brotherhoods include the Derkoua, Hamadasha, Aissoua and the Jilala.

Modern music includes Rai which is associated with Algeria in the international music scene, but Morocco has produced its own stars lincluding Cheb Mimoun and Hanino. Other genre include Hiphop, Electronica and Fusion, which draws on Gnawa, Jazz and heavy metal. Casablanca is a major center for contemporary Moroccan music.

Pirating remains a concern for Moroccan musicians as it is difficult to establish copyright for music performances and CD’s, although Morocco has an intellectual property rights law. In Marrakech an English music producer Nick Wilde set up Marrakchi Records a record label, music publishing and artist management company to support young Moroccan musicians. Marrakchi Records provides a management service for Moroccan musicians and promotes them thus helping to establish them in the fast moving contemporary Moroccan music scene. It covers all genres from Rock, Hiphop, Electronic,   gnawa , blues and African music. Artists who have successfully produced albums with Marrakchi Records include Caravane, Blue Medina, DJ Haze, Mwanssa, Chaabi and Nisrine.

The Moroccan Music scene is vast and growing along with it’s new pop up festivals and summer venues.

For more information about the Moroccan Music Scene or Festivals in Morocco 

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Morocco Travel