“A civilization rich in types and models unchanged for centuries… ideas and customs, moral and physical aspects of mankind that are eternal simply because they have never changed… But that it has survived until our own times, that we can see it, we can touch it, we can mix with its people, is a miracle that never ceases to astonish.“
Morocco is the tantalizing lower lip on the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, a land rich in mystique and home to mysterious and magical places such as Tangier, Casablanca and the medieval Almoravid and Almohad capital Marrakech, from which the country gets its name. Inhabited since ancient times, Morocco was explored by the Phoenicians as early as the 6th century BC, and was an important outpost of the Roman Empire, as shown at the glorious Roman ruins at Volubilis. Following the Barbarian invasions, it became part of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century before the Islamic conquests began. Centuries of contested rule among myriad Arab dynasties gave way in the colonial era to European conquests, when Morocco fell under French and Spanish domination until achieving independence in 1957 under Sultan Mohammed V, whose name adorns many a boulevard and hotel in modern Morocco.
Its diverse landscape includes the High Atlas mountain range running through the middle of the country, fine beaches along its Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as vast expanses of desert in the south. In its cities one can find all the glories of Islamic art and architecture, the souks or medinas in which all the plenty of paradise is on offer along with mountains of tourist trinkets, and one of the richest and delectable cuisines in all of the Mediterranean. Morocco can be visited at any time of year, as long as you are prepared for the regional variations in climate. The Atlas can be rugged, with near-Alpine conditions up on the peaks, and the desert areas of the south will throw the occasional mirage your way. In between, the rural roads will pass by glorious scenery of date palms and flowering river valleys, and wide open vistas of dramatic gorges and cliffs.
© Michel Koven