Posts Tagged ‘Morocco Travel’

Marrakech Art Deco, A Paradise of Architectural Gems

Friday, May 11th, 2018
Cine-Palace, Gueliz

Cine-Palace, Gueli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great way to discover the Moroccan city of Marrakech is through a Guided walking tour of its Art Deco Architecture in the new city of Gueliz. You can spend an afternoon gallery hopping, shopping at designer boutiques and eat your way through Marrakech’s, trendsetting new town. As one of the most sought-after Colonial cities in Morocco, Gueliz is all the rave.

Morocco’s Colonial history and the beginning of Art Deco Gueliz dates back to 1912 when an agreement was signed with France, called “Protectorat.” A French army general and colonial administrator named Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey had the vision to modernize Morocco with the preservation of its cultural traditions and local customs.

Lyautey created the Ville Nouvelle (new town) Gueliz, originating from the French word Église, which means church. Gueliz was the first town to be built outside the Marrakech medina with views of the Atlas Mountains and a referendum requiring no building to stand beyond 3 stories high or the equivalent of a palm tree.

Avenue Mohammed V (Former avenue Mangin 1930) Gueliz

Avenue Mohammed V (Former avenue Mangin 1930) Gueliz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First built as a military camp, Gueliz was small and occupied primarily by the French. This French quarter grew rapidly and architects embraced Parisian Art Deco by creating large avenues, bustling cafes and theatres, along with charming villas and a central market.

Gueliz was designed by French architect, Henri Prost. Its original main tree-lined avenue was called Avenue de France. Today Avenue de France has been renamed Boulevard Mohammed VI and is filled with modern office buildings, banks, boutiques that are surrounded by magnificent Art Deco facades that remain from the city’s colonial past. Travelers and locals frequent Boulevard Mohammed VI for evening walks and picnics, sipping Moroccan tea at its sprawling cafes on sunlit terraces and to shop at luxury boutiques as they take in the glorious flora and fauna in full bloom year round.

One of the Art Deco highlights of Gueliz is the Church of Holy Saints-Martyrs, built in 1928 and inaugurated in December 1931. It was also designed by the architect and urban planner French Henri Prost and commission Marshal Lyautey,

Le Petit Cornichon, Gueliz, Marrakech

Le Petit Cornichon, Gueliz, Marrakech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Deco Guide to Gueliz, Marrakech’s Trend-Setting New Town- Art Deco Buildings,  Art, Shopping & Eating

A city that has long been the home of jet-setters, fashion designers, hippies and artists, today, Gueliz is all the rave. Bustling with chic restaurants and celebrity chefs, designer boutiques, concept stores and art galleries, Gueliz is one of Morocco’s most sought-after city’s for its nightlife, shopping and Art Deco facades.

What to See: Art Deco Facades, Sites & Gardens Gueliz

Church of Holy Saints-Martyrs – Built in 1928, designed by the architect and urban planner French Henri Prost this was the only church in Gueliz at the time.

Cine-Palace – Built in 1926, this cinema is a replica of  Cinema Eden in La Ciota France. Dilapidated it’s charming facade and open air theatre, in ruin,  is a memory of an Art Deco past.

The Villa Bel Air – Located on the Avenue Hassan II, is one of the few villas in Gueliz that has not been affected by new construction.

Comptoir des Mines Galerie – Founded by Art Holding Morocco, this new gallery is a contemporary art space located in an Art Deco building that was once a mining company. Recently renovated into an Art Gallery, Comptoir de Mines features Contemporary Moroccan Art.

Comptoir des Mines Galerie – Founded by Art Holding Morocco, this new, chic gallerie is a contemporary art space located in an Art Deco building that was once a mining company. Recently renovated into an Art Gallery, Comptoir de Mines features Contemporary Moroccan Art.

Jardin Majorelle – This is the former Art Deco home, with Moorish charm, of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. It houses a fashion designer’s collection of decorative arts and artworks by Jack Majorelle with rotating exhibitions. The Majorelle Gardens has burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers and is painted with vibrant primary colors, with an intense blue the Jacque Majorelle saw in the Atlas Mountains.

The Renaissance Hotel – Located in Gueliz The Renaissance is a Marrakech institution. This historic hotel was built by the French architect, Henri Prost. The hotel has preserved its façade which was built in 1952.

La Mamounia Hotel & Gardens– Perfect for afternoon tea, sunset cocktails or pool lunch, this Art Deco historic hotel  is where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the movie The Birds. It is situated on the edge of the walls of the old city of Marrakech and is named for its 200-year-old gardens, which were given as an 18th Century wedding gift to Prince Moulay Mamoun by his father.

Jnane El Harti (Harti Gardens) – A creation of the urban garden Jnane El Harti dates back to the end of the 1930s.  Translated as “janân al-harthî”, which means, “Gardens of my plowed earth” this garden was originally created to produce food. The current Jnane El Harti occupies six hectares is decorated with wooden benches and maintains a sprawling cactus garden, a restaurant with views of the garden and a sports hall. Perfectly representative of East and West, the Harti Gardens is a mixed space of Mediterranean vegetation with olive, citrus and ficus surrounded by European lawns, shrubs, palms and cactus.

Where to Shop in Gueliz: Designer Boutiques & Concept Stores

33 Majorelle -
  With two levels of design, fashion and accessories created by Moroccan and international designers, as well as the traditional Moroccan goodies like the green pottery from southern Morocco and a selection of funky babouche, this is the shop for trendy souvenirs and gifts. Like a high-end department store, new designers are exposed with a collection hanging regularly, giving this concept store the leading edge on the latest trends. A small gallery is attached and features a changing art exhibit. The location is perfect – across from Majorelle Gardens. 
Address: 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent

Majorelle Gardens Boutique -
 Easy to find and with a friendly owner Toufik, this is one of the best up-market boutiques for fine Moroccan fashion with a Western twist. Using the finest silks, Toufik creates a stunning collection of kaftans, velvet vests, and cotton tunics are part of the collection that changes regularly. But if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, custom orders are possible and take up to two weeks.
Address: 9-11 Soukiat Laksour

MOOR
  – Owned by fashion designer Yann Dobry of Akbar Delights in the medina, Moor features a selection of upscale Moroccan couture. Using the finest artisans and materials, Moor is known for its embroidered silk, cotton and linen tunics. The cool and calm colors throughout the shop create a relaxed shopping experience. Look up or even just on the walls – the décor, a selection of Moroccan home wares sourced from around the Kingdom, is also available! 
Address: 7 Rue des Vieux Marrakchis , Guéliz

Yahya Creation 
-  If the patterns created by Moroccan lampshades and lanterns peak your interest in taking a fine lantern or lampshade home with you, be sure to stop by Yahya Rouach’s showroom. Clients including Harrods and Neiman Marcus have been known to stop by to commission orders. Yahya’s pieces are unique and one-of-a-kind. His pieces light up various areas of the Royal
 Mansour hotel and other boutique raids in Marrakech.  
Address: 49 passage Ghandouri, Rue de Yougoslavie, Guéliz

Where to Eat in Gueliz: Trend-Setting Restaurants & Classic Art Deco Cafe’s

Grand Cafe La Poste  – Gueliz’s chic Brasserie which has kept the charm of the time Liautey is part of the history of Marrakech. La Poste has a 1930’s ambiance with a grand staircase and cozy upstairs large nook with a fireplace along with chic dark spaces reminiscent of the days at Parisian literary cafes. This traditional Brasserie’s menu makes it perfect place for brunch, cocktails or an evening meal. Address: Avenue Imam Malik, Gueliz

Le Petit Cornichon – A one-of-a-kind bistronomique culinary experience in the heart of Gueliz with an excellent wine list. The menu is lovingly created by resident manager, Erwann Lance. Lance has several Michelin restaurants in Paris and New York. He also the former head of dining at the Royal Mansour, in Marrakech. Le Petit Cornichon is one of the hottest tables in town and serves up some of Marrakech’s most delightful French cuisine with a twist. Each dish is full of local flavor and stylishly presented on plate. The weekend’s three-course tasting menu including fois gras is a must. The wine list offers local Moroccan wine traditionally not found in other restaurants along with a large selection of exceptional international wines. Address: 27, Rue Moulay Ali, Gueliz

Baromètre Marrakech – A new chic address in Gueliz, Baromètre is a type of underground culinary lab where Mediterranean fusion tapas and contemporary fare are served alongside exotic cocktails. The food is beyond delicious therefore make sure to leave space for more the one dish.  Be prepared for a speakeasy, mysterious atmosphere that is perfect for the food enthusiast.  Address: Rue Moulay Ali Gueliz | Résidence Al houda, Gueliz

Cafe Les Negociant – A landmark cafe in the center of Gueliz. Built in 1919, this is one of the city’s historic “man cafe’s” and a meeting place for a morning traditional Moroccan nous-nous or mint tea.  Cafe Les Negociant has been refurbished in keeping with it’s Art Deco architecture. Address: 110 Mohammed V, Gueliz

Pâtisserie Amandine – Perfect for a late afternoon hot chocolate or cappuccino. Amandine offers  wide range of French pastries, Moroccan cookies and one of the best mille-feuille in town. It’s macarons in rainbow colors, zesty lemon tarts and delightful, raspberry panna cotta pots should be on every foodie’s bucketlist. Address: 177 Rue Mohammed Al Béqal, Gueiz

For More Information about Gueliz Art Deco or visit my Instagram Feed

For More Information about Travel Exploration Morocco’s Art Deco Tours

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours, Trip Advisor Winner 2017

Saturday, January 13th, 2018
Visit Morocco With Travel Exploration Private Tours

Visit Morocco With Travel Exploration Private Tours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor has awarded Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours the 2017 Certificate of Excellence. This celebratory achievement is the result of Travel Exploration’s  exceptional reviews from Morocco travelers who have shared their experiences on TripAdvisor’s website. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award is a testament to Travel Exploration’s High Standards and Service provided for couples, family, and small groups tours who have visited Morocco with Travel Exploration.  The Travel Exploraiton Morocco Private Tours Certificate of Excellents awarded by Trip Advisor  is given annually to exceptional travel agents and Morocco tour operators. TripAdvisor places a spotlight on businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers.

 

Travel Exploration specializes in private, hand curated tours to Morocco. The comapny also offers Jewish Heritage Private Tours to Morocco with Kosher Options along with Family Tours, Food & Cuisine Tours in addition to off the beat travel in Morocco’s great south. With offices in, Marrakech and Ouarzazate, the company offers on the ground full services inclusive of private, luxury transportation, local guided site seeing tours, stays at luxury riads and options for the active travelers.

Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours, Alecia Cohen

Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours, Alecia Cohen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Exploration, Morocco Private Tours is femaled owned by Alecia Cohen,  a former magazine publisher, of Global Rhythm magazine and an executive who established Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours with her Berber partner to show travelers the best of Morocco. Inspired by her passion for Morocco’s combination of natural wonders, Imperial cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Berber villages, she delights in organizing comprehensive and personally curated original travel itineraries for cultured and educated travelers.

Mrs. Cohen  has lectured at the World Bank on Culture & Sustainable Development in Africa and has been featured in various print and television venues, including CNN Financial News, Entrepreneurial Edge, Crain’s, Entrepreneur, and The World.

Morocco's Great Kasbahs

Morocco’s Great Kasbahs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Exploration is also proud to share that we have a not for profit company located in Morocco that offers 5% of our annual proceeds to Berber villages. Project Feed Morocco is a Not-for-profit charity organization that helps feed those in need within Southern Morocco’s Berber Villages & Nomad Families. To date Project Feed has been the charity arm of Travel Exploration. Travel Exploration began by donating 5% of our annual profits to Berber villages through supplying couscous, olive oil and sugar to those in need. To date we’ve fed over 1000 families.

With Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours guests visit Arabo Andalous architectural sites in the Imperial Cities, majestic palaces, glorious houses of worship, opulent gardens and a breathtaking Sahara desert. You will taste Moroccan hospitality in Berber Villages and enjoy exquisite cuisine and elegant accommodations.

Our team of expert, licensed Multi-lingual guides and drivers will set in motion a memorable journey. As a member of the American Association of Travel Agents, Travel Exploration takes pride in our impeccable service and reputation. The company also donates 5% of all proceeds to Berber Villages through our charity Project Feed.

For More Information about Travel Exploration Morocco’s Private Tours to Morocco

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

A Designers Guided Tour of Marrakech, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, September 16th, 2017
Marrakech Design Tour

Marrakech Design Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marrakech has long been sought after by designers for its’ style, beauty and sophistication. A Designers Guided Tour of Marrakech is the is a must do activity for Interior Designers, Artists, Architects and Fashion Designers looking inspiration, sourcing and networking opportunities within the Marrakech design community. A Marrakech Design Tour will help lay the groundwork for design professionals who are interested in engaging with local artisans, Marrakech designers and sourcing Moroccan Handmade crafts.

There are a host of well known expat artists and creative types who have made their business or home in Marrakech and in Morocco. French artistic genius, Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent did so in the 1960’s and the result is a collective of three incredible projects, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, the Majorelle Gardens and Berber Museum. Prolific writers such as Paul Bowles, William Burroughs made Tangier their home while French painters Eugene Delacroix and Henry Matisse also spent significant time there.

 

Yahya Marrakech Designer

Yahya Marrakech Designer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today there are a host of new designers on Marrakech’s doorstep who are paving the way in the contemporary design scene. From the latest design trends in Moroccan fashion to innovative Moroccan crafts local artists both expatriates and native Moroccans are making a name for themselves . Designer  wares can be seen at Pop Up Shops and Marrakech concept stores across the Marrakech Medina and the new town, Gueliz. There are a wealth of new carpet and weaving cooperatives, Moroccan owned, in rural regions to explore

Norya Ayron Marrakech Designer

Norya Ayron Marrakech Designer

The new town of Gueliz and it’s world-renowned Yves Saint Laurent Museum, the Majorelle Gardens and the Berber Museum are just a starting point for Interior Designers and Artists. Those who want to explore all that Marrakech has to offer should consider a Marrakech Design Tour led by a local.
On a Mararkech Design Tour, Interior Designers and Artists can visit Marrakech’s most sought after chic boutiques and concepts stores in Gueliz. This new town’s mix of Colonial and Historic, Art Deco architecture make it perfect for exploring.
Yves-Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech

Yves-Saint Laurent Museum Marrakech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things To Do On A Marrakech Design Tour Overview:

Explore the new city of Gueliz and it’s world-renowned Yves Saint Laurent Museum, the Majorelle Gardens and the Berber Museum.

Visit Marrakech’s most sought after chic boutiques and concepts stores in Gueliz.
Learn about Sidi Ghanem, the Marrakech Industrial zone, where contemporary artists and designers have their workshops and showrooms.
Sip mint tea and engage with Moroccan and International Designers who have made Marrakech’s, Historic Medina their home.
Take a road trip just 30 kilometers outside of Marrakech to a rural village where weaving and embroidery cooperatives are located.

For More Information about A Designers Guided Tour of Marrakech

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Travel Exploration Trip Advisor Winner 2016 – Morocco Private Tours

Monday, November 14th, 2016
Dades, Valley, Morocco

Dades, Valley, Morocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours has been awarded the Trip Advisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence.

The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award is a testament to Travel Exploration’s High Standards and Service provided for Morocco Tours. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence honors Moroccan Travel Agents and Tour companies that consistently earn top ratings from Trip Advisor travellers. With a perfect rating of 5.0 Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours has earned a place among the very best.

This achievement is a direct result of Travel Exploration’s consistent great reviews from Morocco travelers who have shared their experiences on Trip Advisor’s website. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award is a testament to Travel Exploration’s High Standards and Service provided for couples, family, and small groups tours who have visited Morocco with Travel Exploration. The Trip Advisor award is given annually to exceptional travel agents and Morocco tour operators. TripAdvisor places a spotlight on businesses that are focused on delivering great service to customers.

As a potential Morocco Traveler you can read what travelers who have visited Morocco with Travel Exploration Morocco’s Private Tours say on our Testimonials Trip Advisor page.

For More Information About Travel Tips Before You Go to Morocco or To Receive an Itinerary & Quotation, Visit our BOOK A TOUR page. We are an ASTA Certified Agency.

Travel Tips Before You Go: Morocco Private Tour & Boutique Travel Experiences – From Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours:

1. Make sure to Book Direct with Travel Exploration. Request a package that is inclusive of a Private, Mutlilingual Speaking Driver, Boutique Riads and Local Historical Guides. Ask for their hand selected options that have been curated by the owner. Our team of expert, licensed Multi-lingual guides and drivers will set in motion a memorable journey.

2. Research the tour offerings online as taking a Morocco Private Tour requires reserach and some planning on your own. Know what you want and decide whether you want an Imperial Cities or Imperial Cities and Sahara Desert Tour. Don’t miss out on the country wide site seeing options that are provided with the 1001 Arabian Nights 12 Day Tour, the Majestic Moroccco 2 Week Tour or if time is limited the One Week in Morocco Tour.

3. Take advantage of being able to book a Morocco Private Tour through a female owned company. Support a woman owned business. The owner of Travel Exploration, Alecia Cohen, is female, and a former magazine publisher, of Global Rhythm magazine and an executive who established Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours with her Berber partner to show travelers the best of Morocco. Mrs. Cohen has lectured at the World Bank on Culture & Sustainable Development in Africa and has been featured in various print and television venues, including CNN Financial News, Entrepreneurial Edge, Crain’s, Entrepreneur, and The World.

4. Splurge when traveling to Morocco. Stay at Morocccan Riads, Moroccan Boutique Hotels and a Luxury Desert Camp. Don’t miss out on unique opportunities to take a Food Tasting Tour in Fes or Marrakech, a cooking class with a Daada Chef or cruise across the Sahara Dunes on a Quad. The extra spending you invest in on local activites will ensure a richer travel experience.

5. Ask about Restaurant, Shopping and Spa Recommendations. Travel Exploration has their finger on the pulse of all things Moroccan. They can arrange for local lunches with families in Berber villages, a special dinner where you can dine on the best, Moroccan cuisine with locals, or visit up market restaurants where you have an exclusive invite to a Moroccan wine bar. Shop locally or at upmarket boutiques and enjoy a wide range of Moroccan and Hammam/ Spa experiences. Travel Exploration has Insider Guides to Morocco Travel only available to those who book with them.

Morocco has much to offer with it’s wide range of Travel Experiences for Couples, Indipendent Travelers, Families and those interested in visiting for their Honeymoon.

For More Information about Travel Exploration Morocco’s Private Tours to Morocco

Family Adventure Vacations to Morocco

Thursday, October 8th, 2015
Morocco Family Adventure Tour, Sahara Desert

Morocco Family Adventure Tour, Sahara Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morocco is the perfect family destination as it offers a unique blend of cultural and adventure experiences for families looking for an educational and active holiday. The combination of Morocco’s grand Sahara Desert, old world souks, and mountain regions offer a pure and relaxed setting. On Travel Exploration Morocco’s Family Adventure Tour you will visit luscious food markets and fanciful bazaars, zip line across Morocco’s High Atlas, camel trek in the Sahara Desert, take a hot air balloon ride, learn how to make a Moroccan tajine and meet a Berber family. Moroccans are wonderful hosts and family oriented which makes the country ideal for family travel.

Visitors who take their families to Morocco for an Adventure vacation with Travel Exploration always report back saying it was the best vacation ever! Morocco Family Adventure Vacations are ideal for parents who want to have the responsibility for planning a family holiday out of their hands to be passed along to a Morocco travel planner and agent who will take care of the details. At Travel Exploration you are guaranteed to receive a hand curated itinerary that is fit for the entire family.

Morocco Family Tour, Kasbahs

Morocco Family Tour, Kasbahs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our family vacations to Morocco are private tours geared around each family’s interests. A private, English Speaking driver is provided along with luxury transportation for the entire family in 4×4 land cruisers or other comfortable vehicle suitable for Imperial City and Desert travel. Each Morocco family tour also includes stays at boutique riads and hotels that are well appointed in the old cities, family friendly and ideal for travelers to Morocco in all seasons.

Imagine a Morocco Private Tour where your entire family can have an authentic experience in their own private four wheel drive vehicle. Venture through the alleys of Morocco’s ancient medinas (cities) surrounded by exotic smells of the spices, olives, food markets, fresh baked bread and the sound of the muezzin call each day at prayer time. Discover a Souk Tasting Tour in Fez where you will visit a bread oven, try honeys, juices, dried fruits, soups, meats and other exotic flavors found on the streets of Fes. Visit palaces and gardens set inside the walls of UNESCO Fes.

Morocco Family Tour, Quad Biking

Morocco Family Tour, Quad Biking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quad bike across the Sahara Desert Camel Trek across the magnificent Erg Chebb Dunes in the heart of Merzouga, then overnight in a charming Berber Desert Camp with a 1001 Arabian Nights dinner fireside with drumming and desert music. Visit the Skoura Palmeraie and the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. Explore Morocco’s Oasis of Fint and have Tea at the Head Master’s house just foot steps outside Ouarzazate, the Hollwood of Morocco. Take an adventure ride by piste to the Atlas Film Studios where Kundun, Kingdom of Heaven, Body of Lies, Cleopatra and the Game of Thrones were filmed. Dine on couscous and bread bake with a Berber family in the heart of the Draa Valley, known for over 45 qualities of date. Continue on to more popular regions through snow capped mountain passes. Walk in the footsteps of  Morocco’s ancestors to discover Ait Benhadd Ksar.

Morocco Family Tour, Valley of Roses and Skoura

Morocco Family Tour, Valley of Roses and Skoura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drift through the majestic Atlas Mountains and the Tizzin’ Tichka Mountain Pass where Moroccan families Berber and Jewish have lived nestled in Kasbah fortresses and old Ksars for centuries. Then continue onto Marrakech for the a popular city experience and memorable part of a Family Adventure tour where you will witness an evening of acrobats and fire throwers at the medieval carnival in Djemaa El Fna Square under the Moroccan stars. Embark on Tasting all of Marrakech as you enjoy a five course traditional tasting menu guided by locals. End your visit on the Essaouira Coast which is full of blue washed color and seaside views. Horseback ride with views on the Atlantic and Portugese Ramparts.

A Morocco Family Adventure Vacation is the idea tour for families of all ages and sizes. Take an Unforgettable Family Tour to Morocco with Travel Exploration this season.

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Discover the Diverse Region of Ouarzazate, Through Kasbahs, Berber Villages & Desert Road Trips

Monday, August 31st, 2015
Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Aït Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. This spellbinding quiet town is the perfect home base for exploring the southern region of Morocco which is comprised of ancient Kasbahs, the Dadès Valley, the Gorge of Todra, the Atlas Films Studios, the Skoura Palmeraie along with the Sahara Desert regions of Merzouga, Zagora and M’hamid / Erg Chigaga. On a private tour from Ouarzazate there are many site seeing opportunities ranging from visiting the historic Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Kasbah Taourirt, open air forts Atlas landscapes to the the Valley of Roses and Erg Chebbi Sand dunes.

Ouarzazate is often referred to as a city “without noise” and is a direct translation of its name. This dusty Sahara town has immense desert charm and is the Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate’s unique combination arid and dry North African landscapes boast stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. Ouarzazate was once the leading administrative city in the region and was purely developed for this purpose by the French during colonization. As the region of the South expanded, Tinghir and Errachidia, became a provinces with Ouarzazate losing its name as a hub for administrative purposes.

“See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara desert. Located just four hours from Marrakesh, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south. It is also known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative centre of the Zagora region.

As a diverse region Ouarzazate offers various site seeing opportunities ranging from the Atlas Film Studios, the CLA Film Studios, the Oasis of Fint, Ancient Ksars and Kasbahs along with Berber Villages.

 

Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate

Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Visit in the Region of Ouarzazate:

Atlas Film Studios/ The Oscar Film Studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 square meters of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara along with the series Game of Thrones. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra.

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

CLA Film Studios was established in 2004 in partnership with Dino de Laurentis, Cinectittà and Sanam Holding. CLA Studios is open daily to travelers visiting Ouarzazate and the ideal place to see a combination of costumes, props, film sets other movie items used in major independent films and television productions. CLA studios is surrounded by varied landscapes, from desert to oasis. Renowned directors like David Lean, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Ridlye or Oiliver Scott Stone, chose to film at CLA Studios for its location. Films and television series shot at CLA Studios range from Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, Black Hawk Down, Kundum, Gladiator, The Mummy 1 and 2, Alexander the Great, The Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Troy, Exorcist 1 and 2, Hidalgo and Babel.

Ancient Moroccan Ksars & Kasbahs

Ait Benhaddou Ksar is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss Massa Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.

Kasbah Taouirt was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

Kasbah Tifoultoute is an ancient Kasbah (fortress) in Ouarzazate located 8 kilometers West of the city. Kasbah Tifoultoute once belonged to the family of Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakech. The kasbah of Tifoultoute served as decor for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth. There is a stunning view from the terrace of the Atlas Mountains.

Berber Villages:

The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco. The Berbers once occupied much of North Africa before they were persecuted and driven out or into the mountain ranges by the Arabs who came from Yemen in the 7th Century. One-third of Moroccans are Berber and live in the mountains, in villages within the Middle-Atlas and within remote areas of Morocco. Today, most Berbers understand and speak Arabic but their primary language is Berber. During a private tour to Morocco you can visit Berber villages in the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas or Anti-Atlas Mountain regions of Morocco. Within the Berber Villages you can visit old ksars, have lunch with a Berber family, and also learn about their village life. Ait Ouzine is a small village of 1200 inhabitants nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine-Nkob is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. On a private tour, travelers can meet a local Berber family, sip tea in the Saghro Mountains, and dine on couscous.

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Sahara Desert Regions:

Merzouga is a small village in Southern Morocco which is home to the highest and most gold dunes called Erg Chebbi. Merzouga is located in the Moroccan Sahara Desert and has the largest underground natural body of water. It’s Erg Chebbi dunes are the most visited by Moroccan tourists who want a majestic and authentic Sahara experience for camel trekking and desert camping.

M’Hamid El Ghizlane is the last Oasis in the Great Sahara Desert and historically where caravans gathered before setting off on journeys to Timbuktu. M’Hamid is also referred to as Bounou which historically was a village of various Southern tribes such as the Ait Atta Berbers, Drawa and the Hassani.

Zagora is referred to as the “direct door to the Sahara” since it is the last town before one reaches the heart of the Dunes of Tinfo, M’hamid and Erg Chegaga also known as Erg Chigaga.

Erg Chegaga (Erg Chigaga) is one of the two major regions of dunes in the Sahara Desert, the other being Erg Chebbi of Merzouga. These dunes are located in the region  referred to as the Sous-Mass- Draa and approximately 50 kilometers west of M’Hamid El Ghizlane and 98 kilometers south of Zaogra. Erg Chegaga remains virgin and an untouched region of Morocco and can be reached only by 4×4 land cruiser or camel trekking on a private tour to Morocco.

For More Information about Ouarzazate Travel and Regional Siteseeing

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco Luxury Tours, Custom Designed For You

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Royal Mansour, Marrakech,  Luxury Morocco Tour with Travel Exploration

Royal Mansour, Marrakech, Luxury Morocco Tour with Travel Exploration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore Africa on a Morocco luxury tour. Morocco luxury tours are custom-designed to deliver authentic, unique travel experiences. On a Morocco luxury tour you will immerse yourself in the history, people and culture of contemporary Morocco. Hand curated by our experts the customized tours that  Travel Exploration offers are for the inquisitive traveler.

Our private cultural tours and outdoor adventure tours are one of a kind and the perfect choices for couples, families and small groups. Travel Exploration’s Morocco luxury tours have earned a reputation of excellence from travelers around the world and also from Trip Advisor.

On a luxury tour to Morocco Travelers will discover Andalusian and Moorish architecture, glorious houses of worship, magnificent marketplaces, mystical Kasbahs and Berber villages. What sets our customized private tours apart are the hand curated choies we offer we offer which are inclusive of English-Multilingual speaking drivers who work for our company full time, local expert historical guides who are the top in their field and from each city and region you will visit on a Morocco Luxury Tour along with the best choices of riads and boutique hotels that are tailored to your taste as a travelers.

Luxury Desert Camp Morocco Luxury Tour

Luxury Desert Camp Morocco Luxury Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine trekking across the Sahara Desert in a private camel caravan at sunset followed by an Arabian Nights dinner in Luxury Desert Camp in the heart of the Merzouga’s Erg Chebbi Dunes. Morocco has been at the crossroads of world cultures for centuries and makes for the perfect luxury travel destination.

Morocco’s delicate balance of ancient traditions and contemporary culture blend together to offer a 21st Century travel experience. Travel Exploration has insider access that offers unique, private encounters to those who choose to travel with us on a Morocco luxury tour.

Things Your Will Experience on a Customized Morocco Luxury Tour:

Private picnic Sip tea in the Valley of Nomads with Cave dwellers

Dine on Couscous with the Berbers in the Saghro Mountains

Participate in a private, Cooking Class with a Dada Chef

Visit exclusive, Riad and Villa gardens, all led by the best historical guides who are Moroccan and an experts in their field.

Stays at Boutique Riads and Hotels

For More Information about a Private Morocco Luxury Tour or call (800) 787-8806.

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

A New Children’s Library Opens in the Fez Medina

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

 

Fez Medina Children's Library

Fez Medina Children’s Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN statistics suggest that average literacy rates in Morocco are as high as 67% (in 2011). However, this figure hides large discrepancies between males and females and between urban and rural populations. Typically, girls in Morocco are less well-educated than boys. Additionally, in rural communities or poorer areas of the medinas, parents may remove children from school at an early age to work or help the family. The Medina Children’s Library in the medieval old city of Fez aims to support children’s learning and make it fun.

Co-founder of the library, author Suzanna Clarke, says: “Houses I have visited in the Medina rarely have books beyond the Koran, and certainly none for children. Lots of children don’t continue their education past primary school and are expected to become part of the family business.”

 

Fez Medina, Children's Library

Fez Medina, Children’s Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since its opening in January 2015, the Fez Medina Children’s Library has become a big hit with local kids. On average, between 35-50 kids attend every day. In May 2015 alone, it welcomed over 1,100 children through its doors. Wafae, aged nine, explains: “Before the library was here, I only used to play in the street with my friends.” And Kawtar, five years old, added, “I come to the library because I want to read more stories. They stay with me always.” Local children are really excited to have a place to go to discover books, listen to stories and read in a welcoming and safe environment near their homes. They can also borrow books for up to a week to read at home and share with their families. Khadija, aged 13, explains: “I come to read short stories and novels in French and Arabic. I also like to take the books home to read them.”

The library has been conceived with a particular focus on younger children: pre-readers and developing readers (up to the age of 14 years old). Children in the Fez medina have ample access to TV and the internet, but children need age appropriate and culturally relevant books to fuel their learning and development as they grow. Through their own enthusiasm for reading, they can also ignite an interest in their parents, many of whom themselves are illiterate.

Children's Library, Fez Medina

Children’s Library, Fez Medina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as reading, the children can come to the library to listen to stories read from books. Once a day in the week and twice daily at weekends, a volunteer reader brings the stories alive and continues a tradition of oral storytelling very familiar to the children. They sit quietly to listen and are eager to answer comprehension questions. The sessions encourage them to discover the stories contained in the books for themselves.

The librarians are locals and receive a salary for their work. Hamza, 23, is studying for a degree in English.  He got involved because “I live in the medina, I like reading and I like children.” He and fellow librarian Safae supervise the kids in the library and faithfully record their attendance and the books they borrow.

The Medina Children’s Library is managed by the Fez Association for Children of the Medina. The association’s members are volunteers committed to improving the lives of children in the Fez Medina and to bringing their own love of reading to the children of their local neighbourhood. They have great ambition to expand the library to new premises and add extras such as creative, sport and environmental activities to the library’s remit.

The library is open 10am – 7pm on weekdays and 10am – 6pm at weekends at 41 Zkak Rouah – Talaa Sghira in the Fez Medina. Further information on the library and how to contribute are available at: www.medinachildrenslibrary.org

Article References:

www.data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS

www.unicef.org/infobycountry/morocco_statistics.html

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about the Fez Medina’s Children’s Library or a Tour of Fes

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Art Deco Casablanca: Must See Historic Buildings

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Art Deco Facade, Casablanca

Art Deco Facade, Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prior to the establishment of the French Protectorate in Morocco (1912-1956), Dar al Bayda, as Casablanca was then known, was a modest port of a population of around 12,000. A few years into the Protectorate, this had increased 10-fold and has hardly stopped growing since. Today, Casablanca is Morocco’s bustling economic hub, home to many international companies and Africa’s biggest port and its largest shopping mall, Morocco Mall. For visitors to this metropolis, the big draw is the stunning Hassan II Mosque. However, the French left a significant architectural legacy. As you walk the streets, look up and around you beyond the crowds, the traffic and the hubbub of city life to discover Art Deco Architecture in Casablanca.

The drive to develop and expand Casablanca provided the impetus for a large urban development program at the start of the Protectorate era. This included wide city avenues, open squares and public buildings from which the ruling power could organise its realm. Back in Paris, the swirling loops of Art Nouveau were being superseded by the more angular shapes of Art Deco, which melded perfectly with Morocco’s indigenous geometry inspired by the Islamic edict against the depiction of the human form. A new architectural style was born: Mauresque blended traditional Moroccan designs and techniques of mosaic, plasterwork and wrought iron with influences from turn-of-the-century Europe, combining the straight lines of Art Deco with the sweeping curves of earlier styles.

Palais De Justice, Art Deco Casablanca

Palais De Justice, Art Deco Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of these buildings have been restored and are still in use. Others have suffered a less fortunate fate. Some of the best examples are around the large open expanse (now traversed by Casablanca’s modern tramway) of Place Mohammed V. Around the square, you can see the main Post Office (1918), the Palais de Justice (courthouse, 1925) and the Wilaya (administrative headquarters, built between 1927 and 1936). Pop into the Post Office to see all the original Art Deco fixtures and fittings still in tact. In the streets leading away from the square, look above the shop fronts and imagine the grandeur that these buildings represented in their heyday. The French planned this city as a showpiece, a statement of the potential of their African Empire and no effort was spared.

Post Office, Art Deco Casablanca

Post Office, Art Deco Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several great examples of Art Deco Architecture in Casablanca are in an area to the east of the square, bordered by Boulevard Mohammed V to the north, Avenue Lalla Yacout to the south and stretching as far as Rue Ibn Batouta to the east. Admire the facades as you wander along Rue Idriss Lhrizi. Seek out the Hotel Guynemer on the parallel Rue Brahim Belloul and the Transatlantique on Rue Chaouia, or the Cinema Rialto on the corner of rue Mohammed el Qorri and rue Salah ben Bouchaib. The crumbling Hotel Lincoln, constantly the subject of a rumoured restoration program, sits opposite the Marché Central, at the intersection of of Boulevard Mohammed V and Rue Ibn Batouta; the Hotel Volubilis, on Rue Abdelkrim Diouri is thankfully the result of a successful one.

If you have longer in Casablanca and a keen interest in Art Deco architecture, you can take a taxi or the new tram to the Mers Sultan neighbourhood, to the south of downtown Casablanca. Largely shunned by today’s nouveau riche and not typically visited by the day trippers who crowd to the Hassan II mosque, this area is full of treasures ready for discovery. Some of the apartment blocks and villas echo the grandeur of Marseilles or Miami Beach. Here you will find the playground of the former French colonialists – the bars, cafes and cinemas, but their wealthy clientele are long gone. Hunt down the Café Champs Elyssée, built in the shape of a cruise liner; the Cinema Lynx and the Bar Atomic.

For a luxury Art Deco have your Morocco travel agent book you into Le Doge Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel located in a historic villa just 10 minutes from the corniche and 5 minutes from La Squala historic fortifications.

Le Doge Hotel & Spa Casablanca

Le Doge Hotel & Spa Casablanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moroccan government is pouring money into the regeneration of Casablanca and one can only hope that some of these Art Deco buildings can be rescued and restored. Casablanca is a city of extremes – the wealthiest business moguls reside in new villa developments along the coast, while the poorest rural migrants scrape a living around its large shanty towns. It seems that modern Casablanca never stops moving. However, if you look carefully, slow your pace and look up above the grimy ground floors and beyond the botched renovations, you will discover the city’s former glory of Art Deco Architecture: the brass, the parquet floors and the chandeliers just need a spit and a polish to shine once again.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Casablanca Art Deco Tours

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Remembering Jewish Essaouira, Heritage Sites & Synagogues

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Muslims & Jews in Essaouira, Praying for Rain

Muslims & Jews in Essaouira, Praying for Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essaouira owes much of its past, present and future to its situation on a bay sheltered from the fierce trade winds of the Atlantic Ocean by an archipelago of small, rocky islands. Towards the end of the 18th century, Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah (Mohammed III) created a strategic role for Essaouira in his new trade policy oriented towards the Atlantic. He instructed the construction of the Kasbah (King’s Quarters) and the Skala fortifications which became the basis for the medina (old city) we see today. He ordered the closure of Agadir harbor, further south, and effectively routed a large amount of trade between Europe and West and Central Africa through his new port. The Sultan was the first Head of State to recognize US Independence in 1776, thereby creating a strategic linkage in support of his trade objectives in Morocco.

In order to ensure the success of his strategy, Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah invited 10 prominent Jewish families from the key commercial centers of Morocco to settle in what was known then as Mogador and manage the trade. These families were largely the descendents of those expelled from Andalusia at the end of the 15th century and had gained a strong reputation for their skills as merchants. They became the “Tujjar as-Sultan“, the Sultan’s traders. These families – and many foreign consuls and negociants – settled in the newly-built houses of the Kasbah, which featured typical Swiri architecture of rooms set around a colonnaded interior patio, the latter often large enough to accommodate merchandise. Such buildings can be seen in the area near Bab el Minzeh and Bab Sbaa and along Rue Laalouj, where the French Institute and Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah Museum are excellent examples.

Chaim Pinto, Jewish Synagogue Essaouira

Chaim Pinto, Jewish Synagogue Essaouira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the start of the 19th century, the population of Essaouira was majority Jewish. There were as many as 40 synagogues. Some, like the Simon Attia synagogue were the private synagogues of a large family, while others, such as the Slat Lkahal, were community centers of worship. As the affluence of the city grew, it attracted many migrants from the rural areas, seeking economic opportunities. The Mellah, a typical feature of a Moroccan city and a principally Jewish neighborhood, was built to house these families. Essaouira also had a Mellah Kdim, the “old Mellah”, which was an extension of the Kasbah and housed the Jewish middle classes. Mogador was unique in Morocco in that Jews, Muslims and Christians – those of Jewish, Berber, African, European and Arabic descent – lived side-by-side. There was a fruitful exchange at all levels of society, from artisans like silversmiths passing on their trade, to the interchange of intellectual and musical influences such as seen in the Andalusian music which continued to be taught and performed in Mogador long after the flight of Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula.

Jewish Cemetery, Essaouira

Jewish Cemetery, Essaouira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, there are a number of Jewish sites which can be visited and/or are under renovation in Essaouira. Essaouira’s two Jewish cemeteries are open to visitors by calling the number of the guardian posted on the door. The older of the two is only separated from the sea by a wall and is regularly inundated. It features the mausoleum of Rabbi Haim Pinto (1748–1845), which is the subject of a hilloula (pilgrimage) every Fall. The graves are often laid on top of each other and the inscriptions are no longer legible. All that remains are circular or triangular symbols indicating whether the occupant was male or female.

The ‘new’ Jewish cemetery, across the street, was opened in the 18th century to accommodate the growing population. It is the final resting place of a number of rabbis, intellectuals and musicians as well as many of the ‘ordinary’ residents of Essaouira-Mogador. The cemetery tells the stories of many great families of Mogador such as the Corcos, the most famous of the original ‘Sultan’s merchants’ and the Yuly and Levy families – some of whom are certainly ancestors of the first Jewish US senator, David Levy Yulee.

The guardian of the cemeteries can also grant access to the Haim Pinto synagogue, just back inside the medina at Bab Doukkala, in the Mellah. The neighborhood is part of an urban clearance program and the synagogue, although thoroughly renovated inside, sits in a precarious position surrounded by crumbling and decaying buildings, the former homes of Jewish families.

Slat Synagogue, Essaouira Restoration Project

Slat Synagogue, Essaouira Restoration Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few doors along, back towards the central medina, is Slat Lkahal, a community synagogue currently under painstaking renovation by Haim Bitton, helped by the generous donations of members of former Mogador Jews. Those who are lucky to meet him there will learn of the intricate connections between Jewish communities in Manchester, London, Italy and Mogador. So far, he has managed to rescue key elements of the original synagogue from demolition and is carefully restoring them using local artisans. He hopes to turn rooms on the upper floor into exhibition and meeting spaces.

Back in the Kasbah, the Simon Attia synagogue is the subject of an ambitious restoration program. Once also the Rabbinical Court of Mogador, the aim is to restore the space used for worship on the ground floor and create a library of documents related to Moroccan Judaism alongside accommodation for students of these works upstairs.

Most of Essaouira’s synagogues are long gone. Few have actually been demolished, but most have passed into alternative uses and only the older members of the Mogador Jewish diaspora recall their location. There are still plenty of clues to the size of the former Jewish population of Essaouira, however. A wander around the labyrinthine alleyways of the Mellah or Kasbah will reveal several doorways with the Star of David on the lintel and a conversation with any of Essaouira’s older residents will reveal the proximity and goodwill of the Muslim and Jewish communities in times gone by.

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Essaouira Jewish Heritage Sites or an Essaouira Jewish Heritage Tour

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.