Wednesday, 16th October 2019
COVER FEATURE | TRAVEL & TOURISM Article
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This Month's Magazine
Morocco is well worth a visit

Morocco is well worth a visit

Two continents within a half hour of each other.


One of the features extensively used in travel brochures is that Morocco is just a three hours flight away from most European main cities, but living in or just visiting the South of Spain we have the exotic right on our doorstep.

As a matter of fact the crossing between Tarifa and Tangier takes about half an hour allowing us to take the car and visit such locations like Asilah, Marrakech, Casablanca, Tangiers and Fez, just across the straights. The allure of the mysterious and vibrant Moorish kingdom is well within your reach.

Populated by the indigenous Berbers and conquered by the Arabs 1,300 years ago, Morocco is the bridge between Europe and Africa and the gate to black Africa. Morocco is a country with a rich and diverse history, a country where Jews and Arabs have flourished side by side for over 1,000 years. With the magnificent Atlas Mountains, lush oasis, a glimpse of the Sahara desert and fabulous earthen architecture, Morocco also offers some of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated cities, Marrakech, Rabat, Meknes, Asilah and Fez which is often called the worlds best example of a living medieval city.

Tangier is one of the oldest city’s in Morocco, as well as being Spain’s nearest neighbour (Just 17 Kilometres away) made a capital city by the Romans, occupied by the Arabs and invaded by Vandals and Visigoths, before being controlled by both the Spanish and Portuguese. In the early part of the 20th century, Tangier was an international city whose tax-free status and cosmopolitan image attracted European and American artists and writers.

Tangier is very much a tourist town, the beach having a great setting, with a several kilometre long curve, with the white houses of Tangier itself as a frame. This tiny sea-port on the North West coast of Morocco was visited by Phoenician traders some 3,000 years ago, it was the Romans however who gave Tangier its name and it was known in Roman as Tengris or Tanjah in Arabic.

With the bustling cities of Tangier and Tetouan as close neighbours, it is surprising that the beautiful old town of Asilah has managed to remain a haven of peace and tranquillity. Asilah feels and looks a lot like a Spanish village in Andalucia; it is a lovely old and very clean whitewashed town on the Atlantic coast. The town has a quiet feel and makes for a good stop off, being close enough to Tangier to make a day trip from Spain. The towers and ramparts of the town give the impression that time has stood still.

Asilah was the first town to fall to the Portuguese and has a very old and diverse history, with rambling alleyways and some beautiful views; this is one town for simply strolling around and taking a breather after the noise and bustle of Tangiers. There are many fine restaurants on the main street. With many other exiting towns and cities within a short drive from Tangiers, Morocco is a fantastic location for a day trip or even a longer stay.

One thing is certain, once you discover the magic of Morocco you will want to come back.

Of course there is much more to explore, but then the best way is to take the car and just cross the short distance over the water and discover your own Morocco.


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CASABLANCA
Morocco’s largest city and main port. The port is one of the largest artificial ports in the world and the largest port in North Africa.
At first the Portuguese used its ruins to build a fortress in 1515 and called the town “Casa Branca”, then, in 1580 it became part of Spain before returning to Portuguese hands. The town was reconstructed after total destruction by an earthquake in 1755 by Sultan Mohammed be Abdallah.

In the 19th century Casablanca became a major wool supplier to the booming textile industry in Britain and the famous ‘gunpowder tea’ became known.
Almost the entire coastline has been and is being reconstructed for the benefit of the tourist industry, meaning giant malls, amusement malls, cinemas, resorts and so on

RABAT
is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. Tourism and the presence of all foreign embassies helps make Rabat the second most important city in the country.

The largest theatre in the city is the Teatre Mohamed V, in the centre of town. You will also find a number of official galleries and an archaeological museum. Rabat was selected as a film location for the war film ‘Black Hawk Down (2001).


MARRAKECH

is not only a fantastic city, it is also a symbol of the Morocco that once was, and which still survives here. The streets of the old and pink city have been too narrow to allow the introduction of cars, and tourists searching for the “real” Morocco have turned the medieval structures of Marrakech into good business.

The hordes of tourists that come here all through the year have still not managed to change its character. Actually their high number contributes in a positive way to preserve one of the greatest monuments of the Morocco that once was. And the people of Marrakech love their city even more, and Moroccans all over the country would not let down an opportunity of visiting it.

The most worthwhile tourist traps are collected inside a rather small zone, starting in the north with the suuqs, continuing through the town square of Jemaa l-Fna with its crowd of storytellers, musicians and the Koutoubia mosque which is visible from practically anywhere in Marrakech.



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