The Complete Guide to the Imperial Cities of Morocco
To think about Morocco is to think big cities with labyrinthine medinas where you can buy almost everything: from fabrics to a magical remedy that can cure all ills. If you are thinking about visiting this country, you have surely heard of the four Imperial Cities named because they have been a political and cultural center both in the past and in the present.
Do you want to know the essentials of the Imperial Cities?
- Marrakech: most prestigious city among all imperial cities as it gives name to the whole country, therefore it is known for being the tourist capital and the number one destination for trips to Morocco. Its urban core is located in the square called the Djemaa el Fna where you will be conquered by the Moroccan magic of jugglers, acrobats and snake charmers. Its souks are among the best in the country offering an infinite variety of food and drink.
The ideal time to visit Marrakech is from May to June. Nothing better than to stroll through the lanes and narrow alleys of the old town avoiding hot weather, sweat and discomfort.
- The Koutoubia Mosque: it is the most important and one of the tallest building in Marrakech, It reaches 70 metres above sea level and is a spectacular viewpoint.
- The Menara Gardens: they were built in the 12th century by the Almohads dynasty. The Menara gardens invite people to take advantage of the feeling of disconnection and inner calm and if that moment is accompanied by an unusual landscape, much better!
- El Badi Palace: meaning the incomparable palace, is a ruined palace located only a few meters from the square. Nowadays it is in ruins and only the esplanace can be visited. The palace today is a well known tourist attraction and Marrakesh Folklore Festival has taken place within the palace for many years.
- The Saadian Tombs: they are located on the south part of the Kasbah Mosque and are an invaluable heritage from the time of the Great Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour.
- Jemaa el Fna Square: here you can enjoy a variety of shows during the day. At dusk, popular restaurants begin to offer their specialties, so it is advisable to visit the square without haste and to sit down to enjoy a typical dish in one of its many terraces which offer something to satisfy all tastes.
- Rabat: it is a city located on the Atlantic coast of the country. The Bu Regreg river separates the city into two parts (Rabat and Salé). This city became a stronghold for the Muslims that were expelled from Spain at the beginning of the 17th century.
In Rabat it is easy to find amazing food stalls, most of them offering dished with pasta and meat. Also, you should not forget to taste the traditional Kebab with spicy sauce and harira (lamb soup) , a typical nutritious soup.
- Tower of Hassan: it is one of the three minarets built by the Almohads dynasty, the others are the Kutoubia and the Giralda of Seville. It is intented to be the tallest mosque in the world, but due to the death of its builder (Yacoub Al-Mansur) the construction work stopped.
- The Kasbah of the Udayas: it is one of the most beautiful areas of the city and is not to be missed. It is made up of a series of walls and once inside you will discover it has its own special neighborhood with alleys full of houses painted with a peculiar blue color.
- Fez: The first imperial city of Morocco as it dates back to the seventeenth century. It is known as the cultural and spiritual capital of the country and a center of art and science. We recommend you to wander through its streets and get lost among its narrow alleys to discover the greatest architectural wonders.
- The Medina: it is one of the largest medieval sites in the world. It also has numerous monuments, worthy of mention is the Great Mosque of Kairouan.
- The Mellah: it is the oldest neighborhood in the country, during our tour we will have an oportunity to visit the Ibn Danan Synagogue
and the Jewish cemetery. It is highly recommended to visit those places with a guide.
- Meknes: Located in the northern-central area of the country. It has a large number of historical monuments and natural sites. This city is the scene of one of the most known Moussems, during the months of August to September thousands of people peregrinate up to Moulay Idriss and coming across one of this festivals can be the most enjoyable experience of travel in the country.
There are dozens of restaurants throughout the area that offer the most typical dishes such as harira, couscous and, of course, famous roast chicken.
- Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail: located in the medina, it is one of the three Moroccan sanctuaries, together with the Mohammed V University in Rabat and the Madrasa Bou Inania. To enter you must respesct the basic rules of courtesy and wear the proper attire.
- Bad Mansour: founded in 1732, it is considered one of the most beautiful gates in the world and is also the biggest in North Africa and Morocco.
- Place El Hedim: the heart of the Meknes medina and a magnificent place to enjoy a good Moroccan tea. On the south side of the medina, there are local food souks where you can find most things you need.