In our modern day, Morocco has been known as a haven for escapists, artists, those seeking a greater purpose, searching for enlightenment – a place where they would be able to truly find themselves amidst another culture, heritage and tradition.
But before Tennessee Williams and Jack Kerouac began to look to Morocco for inspiration, many a wanderer, worshipper and Berber descendant have grazed its lands, building these magnificent cultural and archaeological works testifying to their presence and heritage.
Journey to Morocco today and discover these sacred World Heritage Sites in and around Morocco.
Historical & World Heritage Sites in Morocco
Historic City of Meknes
Meknes is found in northern Morocco and was once the capital of Morocco from 1672-1727. Long before in 117 AD, the same land was occupied by the Roman Empire. Today, visit Meknes to see the grand gates of El-Mansour that took five years to complete in 1732, using mosaics and marble columns from the ruins of the Roman City of Volbilis (another heritage site, as seen below!).
Fes el Bali or the Medina of Fes
Amongst the two medinas in Fes (also Fez), Fes el Bali or “the Old Fes” is the largest medina in the world and also believed to be the largest car-free pedestrian area in the world (by population). This medina or mediaeval city in Fez includes over 13,000 historic buildings and monuments which include palaces, residences, mosques, fountains, madrasas and fondouks which date from the 13th and 14th century.
Archaeological Site of Volubilis
At the height of the Roman Empire’s conquest through North Africa, Volubilis was founded upon a Carthaginian settlement sometime in the 3rd century. The town served as the western-most administrative post of Rome in northern Africa. After the Romans left, the town was hit by an earthquake in the late 4th century and later in the 1700’s. It was only in the early 1900’s that the French uncovered the remains of Volubilis.
Medina of Marrakesh
When visiting Marrakesh, you’ll find grand Moroccan architecture, the largest traditional marketplace or souk in the world and the best authentic Moroccan arts and crafts that Morocco has to offer. Food stalls and entertainers litter the streets offering entertainment and a glimpse of Moroccan culture: from storytelling to musicians, dancers and acrobats. The medina in Marrakesh holds the oldest buildings, architecture and monuments of Marrakesh when it was first built in 1070.
Ksar of Ait Benhaddou
The fortified city or ksar of Ait Benhaddou was once a stop-over city along the caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh, right near the Ouarzazate River. Within its walls, Ait Benhaddou offers several stunning examples of old fortified palacse in which wealthy families would live protected. Today, most people live in its modern village rather than its old town. Ait Benhaddou is also a very popular filming location, including in its repertoire: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000) and Alexander (2004).
Medina of Essaouira
Essaouira is one of the most important tourist cities in Morocco and features a number of beachside hotels and resorts that are catered to tourists coming to relax on the beach or go kitesurfing and windsurfing. In the past, Essaouira was a highly sought and fought-over destination because of its proximity to the Atlantic and its trading routes through to Europe. While its location has been long popular, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the actual city and its walls were built. The medina of Essaouira is recognized as the perfect example of a late 18th century fortified town. Here in the old part of Essaouira, you’ll find Moroccan arts and crafts, but Essaouira’s specialities lie in its wood carved souvenirs.
Travel to Morocco today