Ariel Emrani

Morocco, Where Cultures Unite

If you have the travel bug, Morocco should be near the top of your list, as there is nowhere else like it on the planet.

Morocco is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, and over the centuries, it was visited or invaded by people from diverse cultures. In the fifth century, the region was controlled by Carthage, an ancient city whose ruins are in Tunisia. It later became the most Western province of the Roman Empire. 

The Maghrib

In the late seventh century, the Arabs conquered North Africa, and called it the Maghrib, or “west. ” Their influence spread from southern Spain and deeper into the African continent. Europeans attempted to establish a foothold in the area but failed until the 18th century. Morocco was made a French protectorate in 1912, regaining its independence in 1956. It now stands as the sole monarchy in North Africa. 

Open-Air Markets

The ancient architecture in Morocco is exquisite, and the tastes and scents of Morocco are intoxicating. The open-air markets are an endless source of inspiration, where you can discover piles of olives, meats, herbs, spices, fish, carpets, pottery, natural beauty projects, and traditional Moroccan crafts in an endless array of colors and scents. 

I prefer to stay in a more traditional hotel when visiting Morocco rather than going American style, and many modernized older hotels with Moorish arches, verandahs, enhanced with elaborate geometric tiles on the walls, floors, and in open courtyards with lush gardens and fountains. 

Hispano-Moorish architecture is a blend of the Islamic and Spanish architectural styles, with designs unique to Morocco, with the white walls and red-tiled roofs of Spain, brilliantly tiled fountains, white domes, and decorative arches, and glorious mosques adorned with complex tile designs. 

Fortified cities called “Kasbahs” are cities within a city with thick tan-colored walls, built to protect the people from invading forces. The builders of the past were able to create energy-efficient structures that were cool in summer and warm in the winter. The synthesis of the Mediterranean and Islamic cultures is visible in the ancient mosques, palaces, and ancient designs for close urban living reveal the sense of community that is part of the Moroccan way of life.

Nowhere else will you see snake charmers, acrobats, and street theater as you find in Morocco, with the sounds of traditional music performed by street performers as you wander the streets, which are generally quite safe. Respect the traditions of the country, and you are welcomed.

The flavors of Morocco

Moroccan cuisine is flavored with saffron, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and orange flower water, for a taste that is as unique as the country. Tagine, a slow-cooked Moroccan stew of meat and vegetables that you eat directly from the pot with pieces of bread is a favorite. You can enjoy a chicken dish with preserved lemons and olives, surrounded by onions cooked to a soft puree, enhanced with saffron and ginger, or lamb cooked with prunes that have been poached in a honey and cinnamon syrup, topped with crunchy roasted almonds, or chicken with apricots, and the list goes on.;

If I have the chance to visit Morocco, I will never turn it down – the food, the architecture, and the culture make it one of my favorite destinations.

 

 

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