Africa & The Middle East | Inspiration

13 mind-blowing facts about Morocco

Morocco tingles the senses in seconds. Its sun-soaked coastlines, amazing Atlas mountains and wind-swept Sahara make you rub your eyes in disbelief. Spicy aromas fill your nostrils in the bustling souks. And street musicians put a spring in your step. There’s something magical for every explorer here. So read on to discover these amazing facts about Morocco that will make you march to Marrakesh tomorrow.

13 mind-blowing (and magical) facts about Morocco

Magicians, medinas, mosques, markets (and more). Time to meet Morocco

1. The High Atlas Mountains are heavenly

Mother nature didn’t hold back when she made Morocco. Just look at the High Atlas Mountains – extending almost 1000 kilometres across Morocco and reaching 13672 feet in height. In fact, local Berbers call ‘Idraren Draren’ the Mountains of Mountains for its colossal presence, which invites travellers to climb up and explore their villages, plus steep valleys, snow-capped peaks, wandering wildlife and glowing mountains lakes like Lac Ifni (pictured above). Just promise us you’ll remember your camera.

2. There are 4 unique imperial cities

Morocco’s imperial cites Rabat, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat have all been Morocco’s capital during their history. (That honour goes to Rabat today). But their aura and UNESCO-listed, maze-like medinas (old centres) have enchanted travellers for generations. Plus inspired writers, poets and filmmakers. You can find history at every turn in these cities: in mosques, tombs, arches street engravings and more. They all deserve a visit.

GET INSPIRED BY: Spain, Morocco and Portugal tour (get 10% off)

3. Marakkesh’s Jemaa el-Fna is bucket-list worthy

In the heart of Marakkesh’s medina, the Jemaa El-Fna square is a magical maze of winding streets, food stalls and souks selling mountains of spices, lamps, jewellery and hand-woven fabrics. This gigantic square dates back to the founding of red-hued Marrakesh by the Almoravids in 1062 – and you can feel the pulse of the city in its sweet-smelling lanes. Plus you’ll get to put your best haggling skills to the test here.

Local traders and terraces serving mint tea thrive here by day; while as the sun sets –fortune tellers, snake charmers, musicians, belly dancers and magicians appear and create an intoxicating atmosphere.

RELATED CONTENT: Markets and bazaars from around the world to add to your bucket list

4. Morocco is one of the world’s most diverse countries

One of our favourite facts about Morocco: it’s different ethnic groups make it even more special. Berbers (the indigenous people of North-west Africa) and Arabs (who conquered Morocco by 705 and spread Islam) are its two main groups. But past rule from Spanish, Romans, French and Jewish exiles mark the present culture and its people, languages, food, art, architecture and clothing.

RELATED CONTENT: What to know about Moroccan culture and etiquette before you go

5. From mosques to riads, there’s amazing architecture everywhere

Casablanca

From iconic mosques to colourful street corners – eye-catching architecture floods your vision wherever you go. Thanks to Morocco’s diverse past, you can spot both Islamic and Hispano-Moorish inspired designs. Expect intricate patterns on palaces, fountain,  kasbahs (historic fortresses), riads (sheltered outdoor areas at home), pottery, madersas (Islamic teaching schools) and ceramic tiles.

Before you leave, you’ll want to visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (pictured) – the second largest functioning mosque in Africa and a shining example of Moorish architecture.

6. The Medina in Fes is car-free

‘Morocco was an amazing experience, the Medina in Fes was unforgettable and dinner in the Riad magical.’

– Trafalgar Guest (Spain, Morocco and Portugal tour)

You’d be foolish not to spend time in northeast Morocco – and its cultural capital – Fes. Here, inside it’s towering 10-mile long walls, you can wander over 10,000 alleys too narrow for cars, but just wide enough for chariots to carry hand-made goods to souks. Stop into a madrasa and admire the architecture. Or take your place in a traditional riad for an Arabian dinner with live music and belly dancing on Trafalgar’s Spain, Morocco and Portugal tour.

7. You can stand in the Sahara desert

Sahara desert

Morocco’s slice of the Sahara desert is stunning. Located in the southeast, miles undulating, wind-swept sand dunes run away into the impossible distance. Time stands still. And the only sounds are delicate footsteps of a camel on a walking tour. And that’s right – you could be next.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Morocco tour

RELATED CONTENT: The best times of year to visit the Sahara desert

8. The souks will steal your heart

spices

A unique shopping experience, a souk can take a minute to blend into for first-timers. Inside a maze of colourful narrow lanes is a world of antiques, carpets, spices, trinkets, Aladdin-like lamps and other local crafts. Local merchants used to journey through here. But now the pleasure is all yours – including the (compulsory) haggling to get a fair price.

9. Moroccan food is diverse and delicious

Moroccan food (facts about Morocco)

Nothing spins the sense quite like Moroccan food. You’ll find a range of Arabic, Berber, Mediterranean, Andalusian and European-influenced dishes here, meaning there’s definitely one with your name on it. We recommend eating local couscous, taktouka (tomato, olive oil, paprika, peppers and parsley salad), and tagine (slow-cooked lamb stew bubbling with a tomato-like sauce and spices).

RELATED CONTENT: 5 soul-stirring food Moroccan food experiences with Trafalgar

10. You can find the highest ski resort in Africa (Oukaimeden) here

This is one of the most surprising facts about Morocco. You might not associate skiing with Africa. But you will now; because about 80 kilometres from Marrakesh, nestled 2,600 metres above sea level in the snowy Atlas mountains, is Oukaimeden ski resort. It soars up to 3,200m at its highest peak (Jebel Attar) – presenting picture-perfect slopes for skiers of all levels, which are flanked by the colossal mountains and kissed by African sun.

11. Casablanca has the only Jewish museum in the Arab world

In the port city of Casablanca (on Morocco’s east coast), you can find the only dedicated Jewish museum in the Arab world. It celebrates Judaeo-Muslim culture and the mutual influences between the two religions. For example, Morocco’s traditional textile patterns inspired the design of the clothing worn by Jewish women. And it commemorates Jewish history in Morocco (the first Jews settled here in 2nd century BC).

12. Morocco is blessed with beautiful beaches

facts about Morocco: beaches

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, it makes sense that Morocco’s 1930-kilometre coastline is peppered with some of the world’s best beaches. Washed by refreshing waters, these spotless white sands offer the perfect cool-off from the bustling city centres. Our recommendation is the idyllic resort town of Essaouira – where surfing, sun-bathing or meandering the charming town medina is a great way to spend an afternoon.

GET INSPIRED BY: Morocco: A full destination guide (and tours)

13. You might never receive better hospitality

It’s not just the sun that warms you in Morocco. The country is hailed for its remarkable hospitality towards visitors. Taxi drivers, waiters and local tradesman treat you like long-lost family – and happily answer cultural questions and share local secrets to help you squeeze the best out of Morocco. Don’t believe us? Then hop on our Best of Morocco tour to feel it yourself.

Did you enjoy these facts about Morocco? Tell us your favourite in the comments below

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