Imperial Cities: A Journey through Morocco’s Imperial Capitals

Imperial Cities of Morocco are Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, and Rabat. These cities have all served as the country’s capital at various points in history, each with its own charm and personality. Rabat, for example, has been the country’s capital since 1921, a choice made by Marshal Lyautey because of the city’s strategic location and a mild climate tempered by the Atlantic.


1- Marrakech

Marrakech is located in western side of the country
The original name of the city is “murr n akush”  which is a Berber name that means land of the gods. Also nicknamed as the red city related to its red tinted buildings and walls.
The founder of the city was Abu Bakr Iben Umar.
Marrakech is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and it has been an essential location for trading between the tribes in the Sahara desert and Sub Sahara in the past. Now it is considered as the main gateway to the Sahara desert. Marrakech is the first tourist destination in Morocco, Many tourists from around the world come to Morocco to visit Marrakech and visit the main interesting sites which are many but the main ones are. First of all, Djemaa El Fna which is the biggest square of storytellers, musicians, restaurants, snake tamers and monkeys.

Bahia Palace was built in the late 19th century. Both Menara and Majorelle gardens for amazing pictures. Also Saadian Tombs are a must to see and Le Jardin Secret which is Islamic garden slap bang in the middle of the Medina. You must also pass by Koutoubia Mosque, one of the most important religious places in the city and it is an example of Almohad architecture. In addition you can explore the Madrasa Ben Youssef that was built by the Saadians, and the largest theological school in all Morocco. Finally you can enjoy walking inside the old Medina where the locals sell and buy all kinds of traditional food and things. 



2- Fes

Fes is located in the western side of Morocco and it is known as the capital of religion and science. It was founded by Idriss I.

It is the second populated city in the country after Casablanca. Fes consists of three main parts which are Fez El Bali or Medina, Fez El Jedid, and Ville Nouvelle or the modern part. Fes is known with its biggest Medina in Morocco with more than 10 000 narrow streets, which is a tourist destination that consists of the main cultural, religious, and interesting sites, among them the famous Bab boujloud or known as the blue door related to its blue color. The university of Al Quaraouiyine which is the oldest university in the world. Also there is the biggest Tannery in Africa, where the locals make and dye leathers.

The shrine of Moulay Idriss, to honor the founder of the city Idriss I. The Najjarine museum where the locals do the wooden arts and crafts. The Fakharine is one of the biggest markets of Ceramic.

The locals use a traditional and special way of delivering, they use donkeys and horses to deliver the shops and stores. Moreover, Medina is full of fabulous architecture, mosques and Riads.



3- Rabat

Rabat is the main capital of Morocco since 1912 it is where  the king lives. It was founded by the caliph Yaakoub al Mansour. It is a exotic city because it is a very modern and ancient city.

Rabat represents the diversity of Moroccan culture. Things that you can see in Rabat are the Hassan tower that was supposed to be the biggest Mosque in the world during the Almohades dynasty but that did not happen be cause they did not finish that project. Also Kasbah des Oudaya is located near the Bouregreg river. Other places to visit are Chellah ruins where the natives gather for picnics and enjoy the green spaces. The biggest tower in Africa of Mohammed VI is 250 meters tall.


4- Meknes

Meknes is located a few miles from Fes. It is a combination between the Islamic and European architecture which made it the religious and cultural capital of the country. Meknes is nicknamed as Ismailia capital which is related to the founder Ismail Ibn Sharif. It was the capital of the country during the Moulay Ismail ruling in the 17th Century. 


Meknes is famous for its Square called Lahdim and Bab Mansour Gate that is located in front of the square. Another special site in Meknes is  Kara prison that is built underground by a Portuguese prisoner in return asking the emperor for freedom.

This prison caused many prisoners and visitors to die because they could not find the way out, that is why not is no allowed visitors to enter inside it.

Also you can visit the museum of the founder Moulay Ismail, and the old Medina of the city.

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