Islamic Cities Tour of Morocco
Six days tour of Morocco from Spain
The most introductive tour of Morocco captivating qualities is the Imperial cities tour. With a powerful history of thousands of years, exceptional cultural and social diversity, and immeasurable intellectual depth, Morocco distinctive nature enriches all who experience it especially those interested in Muslim Heritage.
Taking this six days tour in Morocco from Spain is the best way for you to explore the history, Islamic arts and architecture, culture and cuisine of this fascinating country. You will visit Rabat, Meknes, Volubilis, Fez, then the Atlas Mountains which lead to the best man-made oasis on earth, namely Marrakech.
Day 1:Travel from Spain to Fez - Ferry from Tarifa to Tangier
Upon your arrival at Tangier Port, you will meet your guide to begin your journey to Fez, stopping along the way at various noteworthy places. Today is the day of time travel! This journey will take you from imperial Rome to the ninth century A.D. Unlike the movies, this temporal voyage will take almost the entire day. (Of course there will be stops along the way.)
The first stop will be the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. Volubilis was a critical city in the imperial Roman department of Mauritania (modern day Morocco, and the Western Sahara) during the reign of Caracalla.Volubilis is impressively well preserved and the genius of Roman urbanism is still intact. The two central integral streets in every Roman castrum, the Cardo and Decumanus, are prominent. The cardo is the boulevard which runs north-south and the Decumanus, east-west. The intersection of the two is the heart of every roman city. There you will find the ruins of the ancient forum.
Jumping forward in time and just few minutes away is the venerated citadel of MoulayIdris, founded in the 8th century by MoulayIdris Al Akbar, grandson of the Prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.s). This citadel is considered to be both the cradle of Sufism to Moroccan society as well as the first Islamic capital for the premier Arab dynasty. The city was created primarily for the indigenous population that migrated with MoulayIdris from the Middle East.
You will drive around 15 miles to the next stop, the imperial city of Meknes. Meknes is a 17th Century city built by The Pious Muslim King Moulay Ismail to rival Fez in it intellect and Islamic architecture. A city of so many beautiful gates and palaces, it is also considered to be the Versailles of Morocco. Visiting this sophisticated spiritual city of Meknes is a delight.
Finally, you have reached your destination, the ninth century city of Fez, spiritual and intellectual capital of Morocco. In the evening, you will get a taste of the greatest of the Imperial Cities. You will visit the sights on the outside of ancient walled city, including the ramparts, the gates, and the Borjs (Moorish Forts). After this introductory aperitif to Fez, you will dine in your hotel and prepare for day three: Fez, The city of Islam and Sufism!
Day 2: City historic tour of Fez
This wonderful Imperial City is undeniably fascinating, Fez stimulates the senses with its haunting yet beautiful sounds, visual splendor, and evocative smells. The most ancient of the imperial capitals and the most complete medieval city of the Islamic world, Fez is reminiscent of a city suspended in time, unfazed by the constantly evolving world outsides of its walls. Fez owes nothing to the Western world, save electricity.
Time spent in Fez will reveal much about the sophistication of the Moroccan artisan, providing an unparalleled learning experience to those who cross its path. Your morning will be spent visiting the Medina. Our specialized guide will take you on a historic discovery of the city of Fez starting at the King's Palace and its Meshwar with ramparts and majestic gates.
Next, you will explore the citadel of Fez el Jadid, a 15th century citadel with all its Moorish maze architecture and medieval glory. Visits to Bab Semmarine its main gate that lead you to Bab Sbaa, among mosques and a vibrant souk, those are lights of this part of town.
Then, we will drive to the Merinides hill to visit their necropolis. Here you will enjoy the best panoramic view on the old walled Medina, brimful with its countless minarets to call for the prayers in a city that has responded to these calls for 12 centuries. Drive down the hills to the gate of Bab Guissa to leave your vehicle and enter an ancient world. Fez has preserved its Medina as it was centuries ago. Not even a bicycle is able to be used as tool of transportation. Only donkeys, mules and horses are able to help moving all what the city produces and needs as supplies.
The first guilds you will immediately encounter are the cobblers, the saddlers and black smiths interlaced by some caravansaries for tribesmen who come from the surrounding areas to trade and supply their needs. Down the hill to Juteya you will encounter all sorts of crafts but noticeably carpenters and leather workers as one of the traditional tanneries is not far. This walk will lead you to El Ashabine square with its variety of activities. From there, you will wind your way to the Sgha square which will lead you to Attarine then Souk el Henna and the Mausoleum of Moulay Idris, the founder of Fez. Next to it, you will visit the Nejjarine square with its famous fountain, its guild of carpentry and the museum of folk arts at the Fondouk.
You will walk to the tannery and on to visit the great Mosque university of Al Quarrawiyyine, passing by Shemma'ine, the market of dried fruits. After that, you will visit the Medersa Attarine and walk to Sbetryyine, a guild of book binders, which will lead you to the Seffarine Square, where the tapping of metalworkers is still deafening passerby as it was the case for centuries. You will break for lunch then continue exploring the marvels of Fez Medina. These will highlight the Dyers souk, Foundouk Tetouani and the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Tijani, a great Sufi scholar who is a venerated Holy man in Sub-Saharan Muslim countries.
Day 3: Day trip from Fez to Marrakech
You will spend your day discovering the rural environs of the Atlas Mountains Berber villages, wards, and nomadic settlements. Covered with evergreen pines, tall cedar trees, and poplars, and laced with flowing streams, your first view of the Middle Atlas will appear oddly un-Moroccan. Passing by Imouzzer, with a quick stop at the Swiss-like town of Ifrane, you will soon come across the first real town of the Middle Atlas, Azrou.
Azrou is an important market center for this region Berber tribes, located at a major junction of mountain routes. Your driver will take a little detour in a cedar forest to introduce you to one of the oldest inhabitants of this region, the Barbary apes. This may also coincide with the encounter of a nomadic family at its temporary encampment. As nomads are very hospitable people, whenever we encounter them we are all invited at least for a mint tea under their tents.
At Khenifra, the Middle Atlas peaks give way to the High Atlas Mountains, whose peaks are visible through the haze, soaring to over 12,000 feet. After lunch, you will descend the Atlas Mountains finally arriving in the foothills which overlook the magnificent oasis city of Marrakech Alhamra. Some of the aforementioned stops will include visits to Berber villages, scenic views, and traditional markets. You will conclude your day with Halal dinner and other accommodations at your hotel.
Day 4: Historic visit of Marrakech
Your local guide will meet you in the morning at the lobby of your hotel to take you walking visit of historic Marrakech. You will devote your morning to the exploration of Marrakech many historical sites, starting at the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowerbeds, reflecting the image of an exquisite Moorish edifice. It was constructed in 1866 for dignitaries, who enjoyed glorious sunsets with the ethereal Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. The pool also functions as an innovative irrigation system that is serving dry life in the desert.
Your guided tour of Marrakech will cover many impressive sites, including the Koutoubia Minaret (which is identical to la Giralda, a tower found in Sevilla, Spain), and the Saadien tombs, which demonstrate Moorish architecture at its best. The tombs consist of sixteenth-century mausoleums, which had lain walled-in and undiscovered until 1917. Next, you will explore the gardens of the Agdal then the Marjorelle. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
Day 5: Travel from Marrakech to Rabat
In the morning, after your breakfast, you will depart for Rabat, the capital of Morocco. You will reach Rabat, a city styled in a spaciously elegant European grid, yet slightly aware of its modernity. Rabat and its twin city Sala Colonia are separated by only a river but are historically worlds apart. They have an ancient legacy that spans hundreds of generations. Each civilization that has inhabited each of the cities has left its mark, resulting in a wide variety in architectural styles, including those from the Phoenician and Roman eras.
You will spend your day discovering the delights that Rabat has to offer. Your guide will take on a historical and lively tour of the Medina in the Heart of the city starting at Place Sidi Makhlouf. The 12 century ramparts are best seen from this landmark. Walk up to Bab Chellah in the medina and cross SidiFateh St. This will lead you to the traditional Souk Laghzel (Yarn market). Your guide will introduce you to the importance of this guild on textile role in the Moroccan society.
Later, you will cross to the Islamic citadel of the Oudaya Kasbah entering from its 12th century main gate to explore an extraordinary Medieval Moorish marvel overlooking the delta of Bourgreg River. You will have the opportunity to visit the old-fashioned Moorish gardens, stop in a traditional Islamic coffee house for mint tea, and in between explore the Oudaya museum of tribal arts and crafts. A docent will introduce you to traditional Berber Textiles.
You will continue your quest exiting the Oudaya Kasbah and up the hill to visit the Hassan Tower and Mohamed the V Mausoleum, an emblem of the real Moroccan architecture at its finest. You will reach the Royal Palace and the Necropolis of Chellah at the end of your guided city tour. Finally, you will return to the hotel for Halal dinner and other accommodations.
Day 6: Day trip from Rabat to Tangier to Tarifa
Your guide will drive you up the coastal scenic road back to Tangier where you will take your ferry back to Spain. Thank you for visiting Morocco.