Imperial Cities Tour
Day 1: CASABLANCA
Greeted at the Casablanca airport and transfer to your hotel. Check in formalities and start your morning with coffee, and baguettes at one of the cafes at Parc de La Ligue Arabe, which has a huge garden with avenues lined with palm trees, ficus, arcades, pergolas and flowers.
Our Continental Breakfast over we will move North, working our way to the old Medina and pass through the Place Mohamed V and the Place des Nations Unies, which are the main focal points of Nouvelle ville and the new town of Casablanca. French architecture is complemented with Moorish Design in the protectorate square. Spend an hour in the New Town of Casablanca, designed by the french architect Henri Prost. The main streets of the New Town radiate South and East from Place des Nations Unies where the main market of Anfa had been. Former administrative buildings and modern hotels populate the area. Their style is a combination of Hispano-Moorish and Art Deco styles.
Next, we will visit the famous residential blocks: the Glaoui, the Bessoneau and the Asayag. The Boulevard links Place des Nations Unies with the railway station and is the gateway to the Central Market.
We will continue a short way to the Avenue des Forces Royal, a commercial area that leads into the Medina ( Old Town ). Guided, travel the labyrinth of narrow streets lined with jewelers, Barbers and Artisans. See the Squala, a fortified 18th century Bastion.
At lunch time, an enjoyable meal at one of the international restaurants by Casa Port, the Corniche. After lunch we will visit the Mosque of Hassan II; designed by the french architect Michel Pinseau. It portrays Islam looking out to the Atlantic ocean. It can be seen through a gigantic glass floor with room for 25 000 worshippers. Its Minaret is the world's tallest one of 210 meters. It is an enormous architectural masterpiece and the second largest religious building in the world.
On fridays, the Mosque is open for non-muslims. It offers lovely views overlooking the city in the residential Afna quarter.
End the day with a visit to Parc de Laligue Arabe (formally called Lyautey) which is the city's largest public park. On its edge is situated the Cathedral de Sacre Coeur, which is no longer used, but a superb example of Moorish Architecture.
Dinner at an elegant restaurant on Casa-Port or la Corniche.
Day 2: CASABALANCA – RABAT
After breakfast depart to Rabat. The city has a population of 2 million, it is a University town and the Capital of Morocco. The city is located on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River. During your one-day tour you will learn Rabat's History and marvel its beautiful Domes, Minarets, Wide avenues and Green Spaces. Your guide will escort you on a walk around the Almohads northern walls of the Oudaya. The Kasbah was built by Moulay Ismaïl from 1672-1727 to protect the city and is enclosed by ramparts dating from the Almohad period.
Visit Bab Oudaya a monumental gate an example of Almohad military architecture. See the Musee de Oudaya, Moulay Ismaïl’s palace exhibiting collections of Moroccan folk art.
Before moving on to the Medina, relax in the Moorish Style Andalusian Garden. In the Medina, your guide will take you through the labyrinth of Souks and artisan shops. Visit Place Souk El-Ghazel (the Wool Market Square) where Christian prisoners were once sold as slaves. Walk the famous and lively Rue des Consuls where Foreign Consuls were once obliged to live.
Browse shops selling clothes, shoes, food and other crafts. South of the Rue Souk visit the Mellah, The Jewish Quarter. For lunch, have traditional Moroccan food in one of the restaurants within the Medina.
Next, continue to the Hassan Tower, which stands on the hill overlooking the Wadi bouregreg, It is a gigantic Mosque, emblematic of Rabat and famous for its unfinished minaret where storks nest. Next door, visit the beautiful Mausoleum of Mohamed V decorated with stained glass windows, white marble, an entryway and stairway leading to an impressive dome.
Additionally, is la Ville Nouvelle; (the new town )has wide boulevards, open green spaces and avenues lined with residential blocks, a railroad, the Bank of Morocco, Musee de La Poste and the cathédral Saint Pierre.
A visit to the Musee Archeologie, which houses the most extensive collection of archeological artifacts and the unbelievably beautiful Necroplis at Chellah. In the Necropolis are vestiges of the Roman town of Sale.
Dinner and overnight night in our hotel.
Day 3: RABAT – MEKNES– FES
After a continental breakfast of fresh fruits, jams, bread and mint tea, we drive to Meknes, taking the road from Rabat to Meknes we arrive in Meknes and begin our tour of Meknes. At Bab Mansour. we pass through the triumphal arch. It stands at sixteen meters high with an eight meter long arch, an intricately patterned arch is argued to be the most beautiful in Morocco. Entering Place El-Hedime (Square of Ruins) links the Medina and the Kasbah.
The square is lined with modern residential buildings and a covered food Souk (market).We will visit the Musse Dar Jamae, a museum showing modern Moroccan arts, woodwork, ceramics, carpets, costumes, jewelry and metalwork. The sophisticated building was once a palace incorporating a mosque, Menzah (pavilion), courtyard, kitchen and Hammam.
Moving on, we will visit the Bou Inania Medersa to explore the beautiful Koranic school established by the Merinids in the 14th century. Opposite of the Medersa, see the Grand Mosque. Browse Rue de Souk, a street filled with hardware merchants (akarir), Corn Chandlers (bezzazine) and Metalsmiths (haddadin).
A visit to En-Nejjarine Mosque, a 12th century Almohad built structure. Before moving on to see the square towers and Zellij Tilework of the Bab el-Baradaine gateway, and catch the action of Ed-Dlala Kissaria. The most impressive elements of this imperial city is the grand gate named after the architect, El Masnour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has Zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from Roman ruins of Volubilise.
Driving, to Fes where you will settle in at your traditional Riad hotel and a late night dinner.
Day 4: FES – Volubilis
A Moroccan breakfast over, we depart on a two hour excursion outside of Fes to explore the breathtaking Archeological site of Volubilis (Walili). Once occupied by the Romans, Volubilis has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it the feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ.
Discover the fascinating Roman ruins, adorned with beautiful mosaics and colorful tiles depicting Roman mythology. The ruins are spread out across several acres and what remains visible are several fragments of walls, parts of massive columns, capitols, the basilica and a triumphal arch. These ruins reveal how the Roman Empire transformed the original Carthaginian settlement into a typical Roman city complete with mansions, a town center, (Agora), and a triumphal arc plus temples devoted to the Roman gods.
Enjoy light lunch at a small café that sits just below the Volubilis ruins. Next explore the open air museum with remains of altars, sculptural fragments and colorful mosaics.
Upon returning to Fès, we will make a brief stop through the city of Moulay Idriss. You can stand on one of the twin hills of Moulay Idriss where you can appreciate the panoramic view of the green plateau upon which Volubilis is situated. Return to our hotel in Fes to freshen up for dinner, which will be at the Nouvelle ville (new town) at a modern Moroccan restaurant.
Day 5: FES
After breakfast our day will begin at the Merenid Tombs. A stop at the Musee des Armes, a fortress that once protected Fès. Today it is possible to see a display of 8,000 pieces of artillery from Makina, an arsenal built by Moulay Hassan I. Entering Fes el-Bali through the symmetrical horse shoe arches at Bab Boujeloud (The Blue Gate) will reveal Fès -el Bali, best characterized as a sea of rooftops embellished with minarets and domes. It is too narrow for cars. Aside from walking, locals use donkeys and mules still is the best way to travel within the city walls. Upon entering Rue Talaa Kebira, the main street in the Medina, you will see many shops covered with canopies. Continue to the Karaouiyine Mosque. Located in the Karaouiyine quarter, the Mosque is one of the oldest in the world and functioned as the first university in Morocco. We will continue walking along the streets which lead to some of Fes’s most important buildings including Dar El-Maganag, a fourteenth century water clock and Zaouia Tijaniya, which contains the tomb of Ahmed el Tijani, who spread his infamous doctrine Tariqa Tijaniya throughout Morocco. Stopping along the way we will visit Cherablyine Mosque. (Mosque of the Slipper makers) Browsing the Souks selling Henna, Slippers, Caftans, Silks, jewelry and spices.
Next see the UNESCO recognized site, Fondouk El-Najjarine. Within the Foundouk’s three floors is the Musee de Bois which displays carved doors from the Bou Inania Medersa.
Stoping for lunch within the Medina at a fine Moroccan palace restaurant that serves an extravaganza of Mezas (small plates of food) common among Fassis tradition. Mezas are considered to be the Appetizers prior to the main meal. Choukchouka salad, Zalouk salad, Carrots with cumin seed, raisin and orange salad, cold radish, orange fennel salad. The main meal will include an option of Lamb, Prune and datte Tajin, a chicken Tajin with olives and preserved lemons or Vegetable Tajin. For desert you will be served with fruit/ or local Moroccan pastries along with mint tea. After lunch we will visit the Musee Dar El-Bathae to view the great collection of pottery, leather-works, wood-works, books & manuscripts from the nineteenth century.
Entering, Bab Ftouh, the “Gateway of the Aperture” explore the Andalusian quarter; a residential part of the Medina decorated with monuments.
At last will take you into the Fes el Jdid, a Kasbah which functioned as Morocco’s administrative center until 1912. Explore the royal palace and many interesting quarters including the Moulay Abdalllah Quarter, the Mellah (Jewish Quarter ) and a little farther on south lies Ville Nouvelle (The New Quarter).
x- Hassan II Mosque...
x- Chellah, Kasbah Oudaya, Hassan Tower...
x- Meknes medina...
x- Fes medina, Moulay Driss, Volubilis...
x- Marrakech Medina, Djamaa L'fna square, bahia Palace...
x- Services of 1 or 2 person crew (leader and driver)
x- Transfer from and to Casablanca airport
x- Transport in 4x4 land cruiser or mini van
x- 7 nights accommodation
x- Guided tours of Marrakech, Fez and Volubilis
Day 6: FES - MARRAKECH
After breakfast depart Fès and head for beni Mellal, a modern town surrounded by orange and olive groves. The Nearb Bin el -Ouidane Dam keeps the groves and other cultivated crops like Beetroot and sugarcane well watered. Enjoy a traditional Berber lunch in the city. Located at the foot of the Middle Atlas Mountains. Beni Mellal is on the edge of the great Tadla Plain where cereals are cultivated. The town has an interesting history being called Day. Kasba Belkouche inhabited by the Berbers and Jews before the arrival of Islam. In the 13th century Beni Mellal stood on the border between the kingdoms of Fes and Marrakech which were the objects of dispute between the Merinid and Almohad dynasties. In 1680 Moulay Idriss built a Kasbah in Beni Mellal. In Beni Mellal we will have the option of trekking around waterfalls, springs, caves, and wooded gorges populated by monkeys. Continuing on we can stop at the Kasbah Tadla, the focal point of this garrison town built by Moulay Ismail in the 17th century. Continue to Marrakech where you will over night.
Day 7: MARRAKECH
Departing from your hotel we will begin your introduction to Marrakech’s Medina; the old quarter of the Marrakech. We will explore this historically charming area by foot. In Djemma el Fna, you will visit the famous 12 century Koutoubia Mosque and its influential minaret. Your guide will lead you through the labyrinth streets and alleys of the Djemma. Enjoy aromatic smells, taste fresh squeezed orange juice and venture into the Souks specializing in Berber Carpets, Silver Jewelry, artisan workshops, handmade shoes and tanneries. Marrakech is a city of underground channels built by the architects from Cordoba, Spain. It provided water for the town and Palmery. We will drive to the Lower Medina to explore more of Marrakesh’s secrets: El Mansour Mosque, the sixteenth century Saadian Tombs with its stark towers, the ruined 16th century El Badhi Palace, and the Mellah and the Jewish quarter. Enjoy a three- course lunch consisting of fresh salad, Tajine and fruit at one of Marrakech’s finest restaurants. After lunch we will head north of the Mellah to visit the 19th century Bahia Palace; originally built for Si Moussa, a former slave who became King Moulay Hassan’s chamberlain. The palace holds a courtyard and Riads decorated with beautiful carved stucco, and Arabic Architecture. We will visit the contemporary Moroccan Art Museum or Tiskiwin, a private museum dedicated to popular arts & crafts, styled as a beautiful Spanish-Moroccan house. Next door to Dar Si Said Palace, is a smaller version of the Bahia. Onward to the new city, we will navigate our way to French, Gueliz and arrive at the Majorelle Gardens, a magical and lush small garden estate designed by Jacque Majorelle. It was purchased by Yves Saint Laurent, and restored to it’s present state. In 2008 Yves Saint Laurent died and his ashes are spread in this garden.
The Majorelle Garden is filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. Our return to your hotel, we will pass by the La Mammounia Hotel Garden (where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the famous film The Birds. You will have an opportunity to attend the Chez Allez Fantasia music show. Dinner served on site. Return and overnight at a Riad.
Day 8: MARRAKECH - CASABLANCA
Departure from your hotel and drive back to Casablanca. This ends your Morocco travel experience.