Renting Riad Renting Riad ..Only once you venture forth into the ancient higgledy-piggledy medinas of Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh. Or, Essaouira do you find a truly authentic Moroccan Riad, and even then you could still walk past it, blissfully unaware. What is a Riad? These beautiful, cloistered dwellings are usually trucked away discreetly behind heavy wooden doors set into high, featureless walls on blind alleys, called derbs. Traditional riad-style houses were (and still are) the domain of wealthier families and pass down from one generation to the next. They contain many of the same decorative and structural elements as their more palatial counterparts, including hand-cut, colorful tiles (zellij), silky tadelakt walls of finely pressed and waxed plaster, painted cedarwood ceilings, arched colonnades, and living rooms on the ground floor. At the center of a Riad is an ornamental garden with a central fountain or water feature and rooms that peer inward through windows of wrought iron or wooden latticework. In more recent times, with changing fashions and the development of modern nouvelle ville by colonial rulers, houses for more comfortable dwellings with 20th century sanitation and modern household amenities. However, the faded charm and beauty of these traditional structures have captured the […]
Moroccan mint tea
Moroccan mint tea Moroccan mint tea, or atai as it commonly known, plays a vital role in Moroccan culture. Although packed with antioxidants, this green tea blended with mint leaves is the drink of hospitality rather than of health. In a country where women most commonly prepare refreshments in the home, Atai is traditionally a man’s affair. Ritually mixed and presented to guests as an ice-breaker, its preparation is considered something of an art form and is relatively complex compared to tea-brewing methods elsewhere. Eye flickering sweet (around five teaspoon of tea) the beverage is poured from a height of around half a meter, resulting in a foamy head and an aerated and aromatic golden liquid. The longer the tea steeps in the pot the stronger it becomes, hence the popular saying: the fist glass is a gentle a s life, the second glass a s strong as love, the third glass a s bitter as death. No social meeting is complete without a minimum of three glasses; the mild digestive is considered so fundamental to almost all daily interactions that it is laughingly referred to as “Berber whiskey“. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a Moroccan […]
The cascades of Ouzoud (waterfalls of the mills in Berber) are waterfalls about 110 m high, on three levels, on the Oued ouzoud. These waterfalls, considered to be the highest and most beautiful in Morocco, often dominated by a rainbow, are located in a verdant rural valley of red sandstone, planted with olive groves, almonds and fig trees And other carob trees, where a dozen small traditional oil mills are still active … Calm and natural, entirely pedestrian, the site proposes numerous campsites based on rudimentary cabins / huts of bamboo and reed, places of bathing, small restaurants in terrace of Berber kitchen, craft shops of the middle atlas, along a Pedestrian path that descends to the foot of the waterfall …
The market of Marrakesh
The market of Marrakesh…Never underestimate what you might find in the souk. From Art Deco gems in Marrakech’s collectibles market to a 1950s food processor in Casablanca’s junk market, a fascinating array of items washes up in these bastions of the unexpected. Weekly markets, to which farmers and their families flock, are awash with livestock, fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts, as well as scented oils, repurposed paint-can, and all manner of animal feed . Next to the baked-clay crockery and fluorescent-pink-and-green popcorn, the apotherapy stalls dispense dried chameleons, split rocks with. Look more closely and you might be lucky enough to spot some antique Berber jewelry or a highly collectible white-and-silver wedding blanket. Moroccan markets, souks, and bazaars buzz with life.
Eat like a local
Eat like a local…Take a break predictability of restaurant food and eat on the hoof. Getting hungry in one of the country’s major cities? Why not visit the food market, grab some meat or fish, and seek out one of the many local cafés competing to cook it for you? After a few minutes, and fewer dirhams, you have a feast consisting of your now-cooked foods, plus salads, bread, and tongue-tingling soda. Move a step closer to living like a local and invest in a Tanjia clay pot. Take this to the food market, present it to the butcher, and he’ll wordlessly fill it with meat, followed by a handful of spices and vegetables. All you have to do is locate to the nearest wood-fired public bath and hand the pot to the furnace stoker, where he’ll place it in the embers used to heat the water. Return for a few hours later to find your fragrant meal bubbling, succulent. And ready to melt in your mouth. Want delicious authentic meat dishes but don’t want to buy your own ingredients? Head for the nearest gas station, where chances are you’ll find a butcher’s shop on its forecourt, and beside it […]
Flavors of Morocco
Close your eyes , inhale, and breathe the spices of North Africa. Situated on ancient trade routes, the kingdom benefits from a vibrant import trade from all corners of the world and an agreeable climate. Despite the summer heat, the fertile red earth, expansive coasts, and cooler mountains produce a bountiful harvest from field, orchard, and ocean. Arab, African, Persian, and French influences fuse with ancient Berber culinary skills in the kitchen. Breakfastast With Muslims rising at dawn to pray, breakfast is an important and often hearty meal, consisting of a variety of dishes and beverages. There’s mint tea and freshly squeezed orange juice, bread, olive oil, honey, nuts and omelets fried with preserved meat (kblea). There are the usual french croissants, pain au chocolat, and crêpees, plus two delicious traditional Moroccan alternatives. The first is msemn, a layered pastry-pancake oozing melted butter and honey. The second is a small holed pancake called a baghir that is similar to a drop scone or crumpet. This is equally delicious eaten with honey or jam. Moroccan salads No meal is complete in Morocco without a salad (salade marocaine), a simple dish of chopped tomatoes, parsley, and onion, quite often brought to the table whether ordered or […]
MARRAKESH..TOP REASONS TO GO
Djemâa el Fna Wander amid the sizzle and smoke of the world’s most exuberant marketplace. Souk Shopping Lose yourself (literally) in the alluring lanes of the bazaars of the souk and the city. Authentic accommodations Stay in a Riad and sip mint tea in the airy confines of your bougainvillea-filled courtyard haven. Historic sights Step back in the time to the elaborate tombs and palaces of the Saadian sultans, and the calm and beauty of the intricate Medersa. Dance till dawn From intimate clubs with belly dancers and hookah pipes to-full-on techno raves with international DJs, Marrakesh is the hedonistic capital of Morocco. WHEN TO GO Marrakech can get surprisingly cold in the winter and after the sun goes down. Although the sun shines almost year-round, the best time to visit is in spring, when the surrounding hills and valleys are an explosion of colorful flowers, and fall, when the temperature is comfortable enough to warrant sunbathing. The only exception in that period is during Easter week, which bring crowds. July and August can be unbearably hot, with daytime temperatures regularly over 100°F. Christmas and New Year is peak season and the city fills to bursting, with hotels and Riads […]
Ali Ben Youssef Medersa If you want a little breath taken out of you, don’t pass up the chance to see this extraordinarily well-preserved 16th century Koranic school, North Africa’s largest such institution. The delicate intricacy of the gibs (stucco plasterwork), carved cedar, and zellij ( mosaic) on display in the central courtyard makes the building seem to loom taller than it really does. As many as 900 students from Muslim countries all over the world once studied here, and arranged around the courtyard are their former sleeping quarters_ a network of tiny upper-level rooms that resemble monk’s cells. Sultan Abdullah el Ghalib rebuilt it almost completely, adding the Andalusian details. The large main courtyard, framed by two columned arcades, opens into a prayer hall elaborately decorated with rare palm motifs as well as the more-customary Islamic calligraphy. The medersa also contains a small mosque. Dar Si Saïd This 19th-century palace is now a museum with an excellent with an excellent collection of antique Moroccan crafts including pottery from Safi and Tamegroute, jewelry, daggers, kaftans, and leatherwork. The palace’s courtyard is filled with flowers and cypress trees, and furnished with a gazebo and fountain. The most extraordinary salon is upstairs; it’s a […]
Yacoub el Mansour built Marrakesh’s towering Moorish mosque on the site of the original 11th-century Almoravid mosque. Dating from the early 12th century, it became a model for the Hassan Tower in Rabat and La Giralda in Seville. The mosque takes its name from the Arabic word for book, koutoub, because there was once a large booksellers market nearby. The minaret is topped by three golden orbs, which according to one local legend, were offered by the mother of the Saadian sultan Ahmed el Mansour Edhabi in penance for fasting days she missed during Ramadan. The mosque has a large plaza, walkways, and gardens, as well as floodlights to illuminate its curved windows,a band of ceramic inlay, pointed merlons (ornamental edgings), and various decorative arches. Although non-Muslims may not enter, anyone within earshot will moved by the power of the evening muezzin call.
La Bahia Palace of Marrakesh
This 19th-century palace, once home to a harem, is a marvelous display of painted wood, ceramics, and symmetrical gardens. Built by Sultan Moulay el Hassan I’s notorious Grand Vizier Bou Ahmed, the palace was ransacked on Bou AHmed’s death, but you can still experience its layout and get a sense of its former beauty. Don’t forget to look up at smooth arches, carved-cedar ceilings, tadlak ( shiny marble) finishes, gibs cornices, and zouak painted ceilings. Fancy a room? Each one varies in size according to the importance of each wife or concubine. The entire palace in sometimes closed when the royal family is in town, since their entourage often says here.
When king Mohammed VI married engineer Salma Bennani in 2002, she became the first wife of Moroccan ruler to be publicly acknowledged and given a royal title. Women’s rights have since improved. The minimum age for matrimony has risen to 18, and women have more freedom of choice in marriage and divorce. Women have also won seats in parliamentary elections. Terrorist bombings in 2003 and 2011 have raised fears of radical Islamic extremists, but King Mohammed VI has tried to expand tr constitutional reforms to create more freedom and limit the powers of the monarchy. Morocco has sought membership in the European Union, but the stalemate in Western Sahara remains unresolved, something that has hindered the region’s stability and prosperity. The king continues to implement reforms and retain the affection of his people despite the 2011 Arab Spring, which toppled the more oppressive régimes of Morocco’s neighbors. Mohammed VI has also adopted a moderate role in the government, which is seen as key to countering hardline Islamic preachers who are widely regarded as responsible for the radicalization of young men in Morocco, the Maghreb, and the Middle EAST.
Getting around Morocco
Road condition are acceptable in Morocco, certainly around the major cities, although driving practices leaves much to be desired. The country’s transportation infrastructure has grown significantly in recent years and continues to expand. New highways connect many major cities, making it easier for travelers to get from one place to another. Traveling by road between Casablanca and Marrakech, Tangier, or Agadir is now easy, reliable, and quick, Morocco’s first tramway is up and running in Rabat, connecting the country’s capital to its sister city, Salé, and helping ease congestion between and within the two. Casablanca has also constructed a tramway. Despite the tram, the nation’s cities and villages remain heavily reliant on buses, local taxis, and trains. Rural areas are reasonably well served by Mercedes taxis, and coaches, although it is common, to see farmers ride all manner of donkey and mule-pulled carts into town on Market day. Also vying for road space are scooters favored by tradesmen, powerful motorbikes, and an assortment of cars, 4x4s, and buses. The rail network is extensive, linking Tanger, Fes Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir. Car-rental companies are becoming more common and reliable, with the best operators available at Casablanca’s Mohammed VI airport.
The musique of Morocco
Music is integral to daily and ritual life in Morocco, both for enjoyment and social commentary. It emanates from homes, stores, markets, and public squares everywhere. Joujaka music is perhaps the best known, but every region has its own sound. In the Rif you hear men singing and singing accompanied by guitar and high-pitched women’s choruses; In Casablanca, rai (opinion) music, born of social protest, keeps young men on the streets; Cobblers in the Meknes medina may work to the sound of violin-based Andalusian classical music or the more folksy Arabic melhoun, or “sung poetry”. You know you have reached the south when you hear the banjo strum of Marrakesh’s roving storytellers. Gnaoua music is best known for its use in trance rituals is known for its use in trance rituals but it becomes a popular form of street entertainment; The performer’s brass qraqeb hand cymbals and cowrie-shell-adorned hats betray the music’s sub-Saharan origins. Moroccan beats. This is a very popular music scene. Morocco’s music festivals are growing every year in size, quality, and recognition.
Saadiens Tombs in Marrakech
Anyone who says you can’t take it with you hasn’t seen the Saadian Tombs, near the Kasbah Mosque. Saadian Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi spared no expense on his tomb, importing Italian Carrara marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas (decorative plasterwork) with pure gold to make the Chamber of the 12 Pillars a suitably glorious mausoleum. Al-Mansour played favourites even in death, keeping alpha-male princes handy in the Chamber of the Three Niches, and relegating to garden plots some 170 chancellors and wives – though some trusted Jewish advisors earned pride of place, literally closer to the king’s heart than his wives or sons. All tombs are overshadowed by his mother’s mausoleum in the courtyard, carved with poetic, weathered blessings and vigilantly guarded by stray cats. Al-Mansour died in splendour in 1603, but a few decades later Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail walled up the Saadian Tombs to keep his predecessors out of sight and mind. Accessible only through a small passage in the Kasbah Mosque, the tombs were neglected by all except the storks until aerial photography exposed them in 1917.
The palmery of Marrakesh
The expanse of palm groves to the north of the Medina is dubbed the ” Beverly Hills ” of Marrakesh, a place of manicured golf courses, private villas hidden behind high walls, upmarket resort hotels, and luxurious secret gardens. Through there are no real tourist attractions here, the area is well worth visiting for its handful of notable restaurants and dinner-cabaret venues and the recently opened Museum of the palmery, showcasing contemporary Moroccan art. Museum of the Palmery. Signposted on the route de Fès as you head out to the Palmery, this cultural oasis is well worth a detour. Marrakesh-born Abderrazzak Benchaabane _ ethnobotanist, perfume maker, garden designer, and local legend_ has created an enchanting walled garden and, within it, a contemporary art museum. The garden adjoins his home and exhibits his own collection of contemporary Moroccan art, painting, and sculptures. Benchaabane was responsible for the restoration of the Majorelle gardens at the request of Yves Saint Laurent in 1998, and the garden designs here clearly reflect his passion for creating beautiful natural spaces. The indoor gallery and arcades open out to a water garden with pergolas and pavilions, an Andalusian garden, rose beds, and cactus gardens.
The Appetizing Moroccan Tajine
The Appetizing Moroccan Meal Tajine Like Paella or casserole, the word tajine strictly refers to a vessel rather than to the food cooked in it. A tagine is a heavy ceramic plate covered with a conical lid of the same material. The prettiest tajines, decorated in all tajines for actual use are plain reddish-brown in color, and come from Salé. The Appetizing Moroccan Meal Tajine, the food in a tajine is arranged with the meat in the middle and the vegetables piled up around it. Then the lid is put on , and the tajine is left to cook slowly over low light, or better still, over a charcoal stove ( kanoun ), usually one made spices. Chicken is traditionally cooked in a tajine with green olives and lemons preserved in brine. Lamb or beef are often cooked with prunes and almonds. When eating a tajine, you start on the outside with the vegetables, and work your way to the meat at the heart of the dish, scooping up the food with bread. MOROCCAN COOKING CLASS WITH RIAD ANABEL What better place to learn how to cook Moroccan food than Marrakech? Learn some Arabic phrases from your expert guide and […]
Shopping in Morocco Souks
Shopping in Morocco Souks and craft traditions, buy souvenirs in Souks – markets – which are a major feature of Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions. They are to be found everywhere: each town has its special souk quarter, large cities like Fes and Marrakech have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square and devoted to one particular craft),and in the countryside there are hundreds of weekly souks,on a different day in each village of the region. When buying souvenirs in Morocco, it’s worth considering how you are going to get them home;many Moroccan goods _ ceramics, for example – break all too easily ,and you aren’t going to find any bubble wrap to protect them. If they’re in your baggage in the hold of a plaine, they are very likely to get damaged in transit, especially if you have to change planes on your way home. It’s also not worth taking too literally the claims of shopkeepers about their goods, especially if they tell you that something is ” very old ” or an antique – trafika ( Phoney merchandise) abounds, and there are all sorts of imitation fossils,old tiles and antiques about. Moroccan […]