Imperial cities of Morocco, a real tour

Imperial cities of Morocco

Marrakech, Fez, Rabat, and Meknes, the four imperial cities of Morocco, offer visitors their labyrinthine medinas, recognized as World Heritage Sites by Unesco, to get lost in them on foot. The Arab culture, with its palaces, madrasas, and mosques, is breathed into every corner. They are also a paradise for shopping, as their lively souks are perfect for succumbing to all kinds of material temptations.

   In short, they are exotic cities full of life that offer visitors a myriad of sensations: colors, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures that, each with its peculiarities, make them special.

   Imperial cities of Morocco, and ancient religious, cultural, and political centers, are a must-see on your tour of the country. Do you want to know them in detail? We will help you!

Rabat, the capital of Morocco

Of the four imperial cities, Rabat is the capital and the center of Morocco’s institutional life. Located between Fez and Marrakech and very close to Casablanca, it is worth stopping at least one day to walk the streets of the medina and visit some of its most emblematic monuments.

   We could start the tour by the Kasbah of the Oudayas, a citadel that houses one of the most beautiful and characteristic areas of Rabat. A citadel, narrow streets, white and blue Klein facades, gardens of French and Andalusian heritage, and the crowded beach of Rabat are some of the things we can find in this neighborhood, which will take us to walk calmly for two to three hours.

   Just 10 minute walk from the Andalusian Gardens of the Kasbah, we reach the medina of Rabat. Let yourself be carried away by its intricate streets until you reach the most commercial area, the souk. Undoubtedly, the perfect place to buy, after bargaining, some typical souvenirs such as djellabas, slippers, carpets, or lamps.

   Continue the tour to see other of its most famous monuments: the Hassan Tower, the ruins of an ancient mosque of which this minaret reminiscent of the Giralda of Seville is preserved (not in vain the architect is the same), and the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V.

Imperial cities of Morocco

Marrakech, the most popular and visited city

   Protected by the Atlas Mountains, much further south than the other imperial cities, Marrakech is a must on any tour of Morocco.

   You will need at least two or three days to get a complete idea of the city, considered the cultural center of Morocco, and have time to relax by visiting one of its many baths or hammams.

   Taking the medina as a starting point, since the most common is to stay in one of its many riads, let yourself be carried away by the inertia of its narrow streets while you discover unique buildings, such as the Medersa Ben Youssef, the largest in Morocco. And so on, until you reach the lively souk area, where you will find almost anything you are looking for, but you will have to be agile in the art of bargaining.

   Soon you will reach Jemaa el Fna Square, undoubtedly one of the liveliest places in the city both day and night. Whether morning, noon, or night, we recommend that you go up to the rooftop of one of the cafes and restaurants that surround it to sip a Moorish tea and enjoy the spectacle. In the distance, the minaret of the Spanish-Muslim Koutoubia Mosque dominates the city skyline.

   After visiting the medina, it is worth going a little further afield to discover other must-see sites in Marrakech, such as the palaces of El Badi and Bahia, or outdoor spaces: the Palm Grove, the Menara Gardens, or the exotic Majorelle Gardens, owned by Yves Saint Laurent, and one of the most evocative corners of the city.

   Whether you have much or little time to visit, you will leave Marrakech wanting to return.


Fez: medieval, religious, and traditional

There is much to see and do in Fez. The idea is to extend the visit by one or two days to enjoy all that this medieval city has to offer Medina Fez-el-Bali is also a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

   Passing through the famous Blue Gate or Bab Boujeloud we are already inside the medina. From here it’s all about walking and enjoying each new discovery: the souks, the old fountains with colorful tiles, and the picturesque squares with their cafes. You will also find some important buildings, such as the madrasas (Koranic schools) Bou Inania and Al Attarine, the Nejjarine Museum of Art and Crafts, and the Mausoleum of Mulay Idris II. In all of them, you can admire every architectural and decorative detail with that meticulousness so characteristic of the Islamic style.

   But if there is something that characterizes Fez is its four traditional tanneries, of which Chouwara is the largest. The spectacle is unique and, despite the strong smell, it is well worth visiting at least once and discovering the traditional working method up close: the tanners dipping the leather in dozens of pits of different colors to dye it.

   To get a panoramic view of the whole city and get an idea of the dimensions of Fez-el-Bali, we advise you to go up to the roof of a cafe or restaurant and enjoy a nice dinner with typical food of Fez while the sun hides behind the rooftops and minarets.


Meknes, the great unknown of Morocco

  Just 65 kilometers from Fez we find the least touristic imperial city of Morocco, the quietest and most authentic, the former capital of the country in the seventeenth century. Meknes or Meknes is undoubtedly the city with the most Moroccan essence.

   A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city invites you to stroll through the quiet streets of pastel and ocher colors of its medina. It is a pleasure to stroll through the souks in search of a bargain; in Meknès prices are lower and you will not need to haggle as much as in other more touristy cities. Then walk to El-Hedim Square, the meeting place par excellence, to contemplate the majestic Bab El-Mansour gate. Spend some time also to contemplate every architectural detail of two of its most important buildings: the Medersa Bou Inania and the Mausoleum Muley Ismail. Undoubtedly, the amazing Meknes is the perfect finishing touch to a tour of the imperial cities of Morocco.

Imperial cities of Morocco

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