Picturesque landscapes and scenic views change with the seasons, which is why it’s always best to know your destination’s climate so you know what to pack and expect upon arrival.
If you’re up for a freezing cold adventure in July or mild weather in September, there are several ideal places to go, but if you’re itching for some summer sun all-year round, this month’s escapade is the perfect destination: Morocco, where October provides less rainfall, milder temperatures, and cooler Arabian nights.
The Kingdom of the West lies northwest of Africa, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The first known inhabitants are the Berbers, an ethnic tribe that called the region “Amur Akush,” which translates to “Land of the God.”
The Treasures of Rabat
The capital city of Rabat was established in the year 1146, and was once dominated by Barbary pirates who strategically used the region’s ports to attack passing ships until their downfall in the year 1818. The historic metropolis is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with its surrounding attractions and landscapes.
First up is the Bou Regreg, a river that flows for over 240 kilometers from the Middle Atlas mountain range to the Atlantic Ocean, in between the cities of Rabat and Salé. The surrounding marina, on the other hand, is open for public use since March 2008, with a capacity of over 240 boats and a series of restaurants and cafés to dine in, fuel stations, supermarkets for any yachting needs, as well as water, electricity and Wi-Fi services on every post, pontoon, and dock.
Head south towards the mouth of the river to catch a glimpse of the Kasbah of the Udayas. The
majestic citadel was built in the 12th century and is now a world heritage site that offers historical value and is teeming with life as the old buildings now serve as homes for modern establishments.
Enter through the Bab Oudaia Gate, an intricately carved archway that serves as the fortress’ welcoming committee to tourists. Hues of white and blue crowds the streets, stemming from the local houses said to be built by Muslim refugees from Spain. Other attractions in the area include the oldest mosque in the country, the Mosque El Atiqa, built in the 10th century, as well as the Palace Museum that houses oriental rugs, ritual artifacts, and other items like ancient musical instruments.
The Andalusian Garden provides a refreshing dose of green with fruit-bearing trees, morning glories, red hibiscus, and grape vines, while the Plateforme du Sémaphore offers a breathtaking view of the river and its surrounding areas. End the day with a sumptuous meal at the Café Maure, conveniently located within the Kasbah.
Down a Side Alley
Situated at the heart of Marrakesh, Ben Youssef Madrasa was once an important Islamic institution founded during the Marinid Dynasty. The madrasa is the largest in all of Morocco and consists of a prayer room, oration hall, and over 130 dormitories, classrooms, and a large courtyard with an ablution pool. The institution is a marvel to look at with its intricate zelligetilework, girih pattern strapwork, and Islamic calligraphy and mosaics found throughout the area.
Next to the college is the Ben Youssef Mosque, considered the oldest and most important mosque in Marrakesh. Few details about the inside are known, since the area is off-limits to non-Muslim locals and tourists, however, the outside provides quite enough of a sight to behold with its distinct architecture. Circle and zip through the surrounding alleyways of the medina quarter built around the grand mosque.
Moroccan leather has always been known around the world, and it begins with the country’s strong local industry. Authentically done through manual labor, the Chouara Tannery is among the largest leather producing tannery in the city of Fez. It dates itself back to the 11th century and is among three tanneries located in the metropolis.
The tanning process begins by soaking animal hides in softening liquid made of salt, water, pigeon feces, cow urine, and quicklime for two to three days. Once the hides soften, it gets soaked once again in a dye made of vegetables and then dried under the sun for better absorption. Tourists visiting the area can indulge in buying local leather goods like bags, shoes, and coats for a reasonable price at many boutiques around the quarter.
Round out your visit to the Meknes metropolis with a walk through the ancient grounds of the Roman City of Volubilis. Located on a ridge above the Valley of Khoumane, the hundred-acre heritage site was once the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania. Attractions in the area includes the Roman Basilica and its adjoining Capitoline Temple, the Tumulus burial mounds, the Triumphal Arch of Caracalla, the ancient tracks and aqueducts of Decauville, the Tingis Gate and
its Decamanus Maximus, as well as many other ruined houses of worship of Orpheus, Hercules, and Venus.
Sunset at the Seafront
The city of Casablanca is located at the center of Morocco. The largest city in the country is an established business center, with its original Berber name being “Anfa,” until the Portuguese changed it into “Casa Branca” meaning “White House.” The Port of Casablanca is a major port and its artificial harbor holds over 35 ships at once. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy a cruise along the Atlantic Ocean, with stunning sunset views to cap off the day.
Located near the port is the Hassan II Mosque, also known as the Grande Mosquée Hassan II and considered the largest mosque in Morocco and the second largest in Africa. Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, the structure was completed in 1993 and accommodates over a thousand Muslim worshippers within its premises.
Its several features include an Ablution room, grand mosaic floors, smooth marble walls, and astounding granite columns, the public Hammam situated in the basement, the Prayer Hall on the ground floor, and a retractable roof allowing Muslims to pray under the stars at night. Meanwhile, the façade is dominated by a looming minaret that stands at 690 feet.
The minaret is among the tallest in the world and is topped by a laser whose light
shines towards the direction of Mecca. Finish your tour of Casablanca with a short side trip to the small rocky island of Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane, regarded as a pilgrimage site and is the burial place of Sufi Sidi Abderrahmane Thaalibi.
Enjoy a fun family picnic at the De la Ligue Arabe, a park open to the public, or step inside the Casablanca Cathedral which houses a cultural exhibit of Morocco.
Mountains of Wealth
Complete your trip to Morocco with one of its most famous attractions: the Blue City of Chefchaouen. Found on the side of Rif Mountain, the district’s houses, alleys, and bathhouses are all covered in varying shades of blue. A calming sight for the eyes, Chaouen offers many restaurants, cafés, boutiques, hotels, and souvenir shops for a hassle-free stay. Hiking and viewing decks can be found around the city for visitors looking to get around the city and take in breathtaking sights of blue.
Visit the Le Jardin Secret of Marrakesh for a majestic sense of royalty as you stand on the grounds of a sultan’s palace during the Saadian Dynasty. The palace’s elegance can be felt even around the garden; divided into the Islamic Garden that follows the Quran’s description of heaven, and the Exotic Garden, whose plants come from several different parts of the world.
The intricately designed tower overlooks the Atlas Mountain, with a courtyard that’s littered with fountains and
gorgeous lounging areas, a pavilion with an exhibit of the palace’s history, a café that serves delicious Moroccan delicacies, and a souvenir shop selling a variety of items like local products and paintings. Le Jardin Secret is open daily from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, with entrance fees that charge 50 dirhams for the grounds and an additional 30 dirhams to enter the tower.
Students and Moroccan locals receive discounted rates while children as well as handicapped individuals are free of charge. It’s best to book ahead and follow the rules and regulations set by the palace management.
A Changing Landscape
Along with the changing of the seasons are the people who seek adventure. While many take advantage of the sunny weather as much as they can, some would prefer milder and calmer climates during fall. Morocco’s last days of fall are a great time to embrace the warmth before the winds of winter finally arrive.