Marrakesh is known as the ‘Red City’ or ‘Ochre City.’

Much of its color comes from local red sandstone used in building construction.

Although flat, it is located close to the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and a gorgeous view of the mountains can be seen from the South.

Originally a community of Berber farmers, this area evolved into a city almost 1000 years ago.

It became the Capital City of the region and was ruled by 4 different dynasties over the next 4 centuries.

In the 16th century, it became the Capital of the Kingdom of Morocco and is now known as one of the 4 Imperial Cities of Morocco.

So much to see in Marrakech! Djeema el Fna Square, now on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, is one of the highlights of a trip to Marrakech. It is lively at any hour of the day or night.

The Souks can be found north of the Square and varied types of handiwork, from carpets to woodwork and silver to marble, can be found there.

The former palaces of the Sultans, which have been rebuilt and restored, are full of history and have a long story to tell.

Other areas of interest are the Koutoubia Mosque which is the largest mosque in Marrakech and located SW of the Medina, and the Majorelle Garden, a botanical garden designed by expatriate artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920’s.

In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge, bought the Garden and, in doing so, preserved it for posterity. It now houses a Berber museum. The Garden is now in trust.

Fes, one of the four Imperial Cities, is known as the spiritual and intellectual center of Morocco, plus a center for handicraft arts.

The Old City of Fes, known as the Fes Medina or Fes el Bali, is the best preserved Old City in the Arab world.  It was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

It is a sprawling, labyrinthine city of narrow streets which prohibits motorized vehicles.  Transport is only provided by donkeys and mules.

Many old homes, originally built with marble, wood carvings and colorful tiles, are now converted into Riads or Hotels.

Fes is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859.

The tanneries, where skins are dyed and made into leather products, is a ‘must see.’   The techniques of leather making in the Old Town have not changed since the Middle Ages.

The Fez Mellah was home to the Jewish population and is part of the Middle Town.  Its architecture is distinct and different from the rest of the city.  The New Town, also called the Ville Nouveau, was built by the French.

Chefchaouen is a gorgeous mountain city in the Rif Mountains, located inland and to the east of Tangier.

It was originally built as a fortress to protect the area from Portuguese invaders and greatly expanded with waves of Moriscos and Jews arriving during the Spanish Reconquista.

It was under Spanish rule in 1956 when Morocco gained its independence.

Known for white-washed homes with powder blue accents and gorgeous mountain views, Chefchaouen is the perfect place to relax.

The maze-like medina is the focal point of interest for most visitors to Chefchaouen.

The blue walls, painted in many different shades, were said to be introduced by Jewish immigrants who considered blue to symbolize sky and heaven.

Other points of interest are the old Mosque and the Bridge of God, an impressive rock arc, which is about 30 minutes from Chefchaouen.

Ouarzazate, although a small city by Moroccan standards, is the largest city with the most charm in Saharan Morocco.

Its name comes from a Berber phrase meaning ‘without noise’ or ‘without confusion’.

It was a crossing point for African traders heading towards the north of Morocco for many centuries. During the French period, it expanded as an administrative center and a customs post.

Today it has a populaton of about 55,000 and has over 200 hotels.

One point of interest is the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah which is located about 30 minutes (15 miles) north of Ouarzazate.

It is a mud brick city consisting of multiple homes and a high mud brick wall. It was settled by nomads and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

As many as 10 movies have been shot here, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.

The Atlas Studios which is located about 2 miles from the town center, works in the production of the movies in this area. They welcome visitors, offering tours of old movie sets.

Located east of Marrakesh near the small Berber village of Tanaghmeilt in the High Atlas Mountains, is one of Morocco’s most glorious waterfalls, the Cascade d’Ouzoud.

Ouzoud means ‘the act of grinding grain’ in Berber.

This name is confirmed by the numerous grain mills found in the region.

At the bottom of the falls, a path shaded by olive trees winds along the river while a dozen old grain mills are located at the summit.

These waterfalls flow into the El Abid River and offer respite from bustling city life.

This region is especially popular in the spring and summer where numerous hikers are found along the river.

It is a favorite place of the local village people and several local and national associations have been formed to protect and preserve the site.

Moulay Idriss is located close to Volubilis and is considered to be the holiest city in Morocco.

The founder, Moulay Idriss, arrived here in 789 bringing with him the religion of Islam and the start of a new royal dynasty.

In addition to founding the city named after him, he also initiated construction of Fes.  This was continued by his son.

Just off the main square is the Mausoleum of Idriss I which is a sacred destination for Muslims and open only to them.

The tomb of his son is located in the Old Town of Fes.

Essaouira is an ancient city in Morocco with a population which is about 90% Berber.

Most residents speak both Arabic and Berber. It is known for its beaches and excellent windsurfing as well as its numerous blue fishing boats and seaside restaurants serving freshly caught fish.

It has a picturesque medina (old town) which is now a World Heritage Site. The old town is surrounded by seawalls which were constructed for fortification and have the original canons still in place.

It was a home to hippies in the l960’s and both Jimmie Hendrix and Cat Stevens spent some time here.

Orson Welles filmed part of his movie ‘Othello’ in the old town and there is a square west of the medina named for him.

Essaouira has a number of historical attractions, including the Simon Attias Synagogue built in 1882, the Galeries Frederic Damgaard and Ben Youssef Mosque.

CASABLANCA has had many changes of rule. It was founded by the Berbers in the 10th century BC and subsequently has been ruled by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Merenids.

In more modern times, both the Portuguese and the French have controlled the city and both left their influence on it.

During the period of the French protectorate, the Ville Nouveau (New City) was built. Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956.

Today Casablanca is the most modern and progressive city in Morocco and boasts of one of the world’s largest artificial ports.

A city of 4 Million; It is a city of extremes in terms of wealth and opportunity.

Not to be missed here is the Hassan II Mosque.

It is the largest mosque in Morocco as well as in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. The minaret is the worlds tallest at 690 feet (60 stories high).

The mosque stands on a promontory and was built partially on land and partially over the ocean.

Other destinations not to be missed (and included on a tour of the city) are the Old City and its winding alleyways, the beachfront known as Corniche and Rick’s Cafe.