Morocco, a blend of culture, history and colour, with French flavours and all the excitement you would expect from Elite Tour Club.
Fes is the second largest city in Morocco with a population of approximately 1 million. As the former capital, Fes is one of the country's four ‘imperial cities’, the others being Rabat, Marrakech and Meknes. It comprises three distinct parts, Fes el Bali (the old, walled city), Fes-Jid (new Fes) and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of the city).
Fes el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its medina, the larger of the two medinas is believed to be the world's largest car-free urban area. This medieval city teems with life in every one of its 9,000 narrow streets. It also houses the University of Al-Karaouine, founded in AD 859, which is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world and which has been called the ‘Mecca of the West’ and the ‘Athens of Africa’.
Fes is the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco and you'll experience its vibrancy and excitement with every step along the streets, turning down little alleys and finding a donkey drinking from the most amazing tiled fountain you will ever see, watching local artisans at work or enjoying a good scrub in one of the local Hammam, or Turkish baths.
The new part of Fes, called ‘ville nouvelle’ was built by the French and is completely different from the medina. The wide boulevards are lined with modern shops and traffic is hectic. It is not as interesting as the old town but still has its own charm.
The name Marrakech originates from the Berber words ‘mur’ and ‘akush’, meaning ‘Land of God’. The city is situated near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains to the west of Morocco and is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina (the historical city), and the new European modern district called ‘Gueliz’ or ‘Ville Nouvelle’. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops, bazaars and cafés full of character. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.
Marrakech is known as the ‘Red City’ on account of the high proportion of buildings and houses painted salmon pink and it has a population of approximately 1.1 million. It is home to the largest ‘souk’, or traditional market, in Morocco. There are a variety of different sections: Souk Semarine has fabrics; Souk Rahba Qdima has rugs, carpets and sheepskins; Souk el Attarine has perfumes; Souk des Bijoutiers has jewellery; Souk des Babouches has thousands of pointed slippers; Souk Haddadine has ironwork and Souk Cherratin has leather goods.
Marrakech also has one of the busiest squares in Africa and in the world: Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians. When the sun goes down, food stalls open - turning the square into a huge open-air restaurant.
Notable sights in the city include the Saadian Tombs, the Wall of Agdal Gardens, the Menara Gardens and the Ben Youssef Madrasa.
Meknes is a city in northern Morocco which operated as the capital of Morocco before it was relocated to Marrakech and then to Rabat. It has a population of almost 1m people and was named after a Berber tribe known as Miknasa.
In 1996, Meknes was given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO thanks in part to Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif. He reigned as Sultan of Morocco from 1672 – 1727 and built a vast number of gardens, monumental gates and mosques, hence the city's nickname ‘City of the Hundred Minarets’.
As well as being the closest city to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, Meknes is a vibrant city packed with nightlife, restaurants and bars, however it isn’t a tourist hotspot and the locals are welcoming and friendly.
Sights to see include Medersa Bou Inania which is a beautiful Qur'anic school, Dar Jamai, or the Museum of Moroccan Arts, Habs Qara, a huge underground prison and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail.
Rabat, literally means ‘fortified place’ and is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000.
Rabat is the official home to King Mohammed VI’s Royal Palace and its main attraction is the Hassan Tower, a minaret of an incomplete mosque started in 1195 and stopped abruptly when Sultan Yacoub Al-Mansour died in 1199.
The Kasbah des Oudaias provides you with the most amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and of Sale, Rabat’s neighbouring city.
An incredibly beautiful and almost mystical location is the Chellah Gardens Citadel. It is landscaped with hundreds of different varieties of flowers that come into bloom during springtime and the result is the most amazing variety of scents and colour imaginable which produce an incredible display for those passing by to enjoy.
Rabat has a much calmer feel than other cities in Morocco and its streets are clean, its medina relaxed but the cultural flare is not quite what it is in some of the other historically significant cities and towns.
Volubilis is home to the best preserved Roman ruins in this part of northern Africa which stretch out over 98 acres and which are the most well preserved ruins in Morocco. It is believed that the city was constructed around 40 AD by the Romans and that it was built on an old settlement which dated back to the third century BC.
It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, even though is has been looted for granite and marble to build palaces in the nearby towns of Moulay Idriss and Meknes. The remaining structures and mosaics tell the tale of a city that once thrived, and the ruins that have been spared are beautifully preserved relics of the Roman era. If this looting had not occurred, Volubilis could well have been one of the best preserved Roman sites in the world.
The Triumphal Arch was built in 217 AD then restored in 1962. It is in honour of the Roman emperor Caracalla and it formerly had a bronze chariot on top its ancient stones. On the other side, the House of Ephebe provides shelter for a remarkable mosaic depicting Bacchus on his chariot. The mosaics at Volubilis are what make this site so spectacular, and arguably the best mosaic is of the myth of Orpheus and Amphitrite's Chariot.