Delve into Morocco’s rich cultural heritage with our 8-day Imperial Cities private Morocco tour, as you visit each of its former capitals (Meknes, Fes & Marrakech), including its economic capital, Casablanca. Mint Tea Tours’ Imperial Cities tour is the best tour of Morocco if you are short on time but still want to travel to some of Morocco’s best places to visit.
Start your tour in Casablanca, the largest city and economic capital of Morocco.
A must- do: a visit to the impressive Hassan II mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. Originally commissioned to honor the former king’s father as well as create “the” landmark in Casablanca, it is a showcase of Moroccan craftsmanship and can accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers.
Fit in with the locals as you stroll along the Corniche with its beaches, outdoor cafes and seafood restaurants, and visit Morocco Mall, the largest shopping center on the continent!
Compare the original medina of Casablanca with the new medina, the “Quartier Habous” designed by the French to address the expansion of the urban population.
Fans of architecture will appreciate Casablanca’s blend of French colonial- meets-traditional Moorish design.
Get an early start to Rabat, the political and administrative capital of Morocco. It’s also Morocco’s most recent add to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites register. Rabat can be considered a relatively new city, as it was only developed in the early 12th century. Explore the casbah by foot and enjoy the view of Rabat’s rival city and former pirate haven, Salé, from the top of the medina.
Rabat is also home to the King’s palace and its spacious grounds.
Visit the Hassan Tour, the unfinished minaret of the Hassan Mosque. The mosque was designed to be the largest at its time. Construction was halted by the death of Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour and was later destroyed by an earthquake.
Nearby is the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, beloved Sultan, King and the father of Moroccan independence.
Wander around Chellah, site of Roman ruins which were later extended into a necropolis by Merenid rulers. Chellah is also one of many stork colonies in Morocco, where storks are deemed the national bird.
Continue on to Meknes, UNESCO World Heritage Site and imperial capital under Moulay Ismail.
Meknes flourished under Moulay Ismail, the second Alaouite ruler. Be sure to visit Heri es-Souani, granaries designed to store feed for 12,000 horses for up to 20 years as necessary. Another impressive proof of the sultan’s drive: the Bassin de l’Aguedal, a water tank built to supply water not only to the palace but to the entire city as well.
Habs Qara is a more sobering example of Moulay Ismail’s rule. It was used as an underground prison for Christian sailors captured by pirates and used as forced labor for many of Moulay Ismail’s grandiose projects. The sultan’s mausoleum is a calm sanctuary with beautiful curved archways and zellige tile work. Currently, Meknes is home to the Haras de Meknes, one of the national horse studs and stables.
Next stop: guided visit of Volubilis. Just one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco, Volubilis is a fantastic example of Roman colonization, dating from the 3rd century BC.
Carry on to Moulay Idriss, a picturesque hilltop town considered one of the holiest places in Morocco and named after this descendant of the Prophet Mohamed.
Evening arrival in Fes.
Fes is undoubtedly one of Morocco’s jewels. Considered its religious, spiritual, intellectual and cultural center, it is the oldest and longest-running imperial city. It is divided into three parts: Fes el Bali, Fes el Jedid and la Ville Nouvelle.
Start today’s guided tour in Fes el Jedid, the “new city” built in 1276. Dar el Makhzen, the royal palace in Fes, is still home to the king when in town, and its brass doors are a popular backdrop for Fassi newlyweds. Bordering the palace are vestiges of Fes’ important Jewish heritage.
While no longer as populous, the Mellah was the heart of the Jewish quarters as early as the 13th century. Its architecture is notably different than that of the surrounding Muslim neighborhoods.The 17th century Danan Synagogue provides a great view of the Mellah as well as the white-washed tombs of the Jewish cemetery.
Next, venture by car to the southern fortress of Fes, which offers an unparalleled panorama of its vast medina as well as the olive tree-dotted hills surrounding Fes. Stop by a local pottery and mosaic co-operative to see first-hand the craft of Fes’ famous cobalt blue pottery.
Last but certainly not least: Fes el Bali, or “old town”, founded in the late 8th century. The medina is among one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Morocco and is virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. Wander through the maze of narrow, winding passages.From the various souks organized by craft or specialty, along the many medersas, and the unforgettable view and scent of the centuries-old tannery, the medina of Fes is truly a sight to behold.
This morning’s drive takes you through the Middle Atlas Mountains, gateway to the South of Morocco.Traverse the fertile landscape and arrive at Immouzer Kandar, the first Berber city and weekend getaway and summering spot for many Moroccans wishing to leave the heat of Fes and Meknes.
This area is well-known for its inhabitants’ cave dwellings.Pass through Ifrane, a decidedly European town known as Morocco’s Switzerland and home to the Al-Akhawayn University. En route is Azrou, aptly named in Berber for the volcanic rocks on which it is built. Azrou also hosts the area’s largest weekly souk, or market.Feed the Barbary macaques on your way through the area’s cedar forest.
The Middle Atlas Mountains give way to palm trees and the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains as you make your way toward Marrakech. Your early evening arrival makes for a great sunset against the red-colored walls of the medina.
Marrakech, former imperial capital of Morocco, is at the crossroads of the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, as witnessed by palm trees against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks.
Today’s guided tour will take you through the medina, one of several UNESCO World Heritage sites in Morocco. The medina is surrounded by approximately 12 miles of fortified walls and gates, and its skyline is dominated by the minaret of 12th century Koutoubia Mosque.
Nearby is Jemaa el Fna. By day, this huge square is filled with snake charmers, henna artists, dancing monkeys, and even a dentist or two! But it’s at night when the square truly comes alive with more exotic acts such as belly dancers and storytellers, and hundreds of food vendor stalls offering quick eats such as dried fruits and nuts, fruit juices, snails and sandwiches. Take in all of the action from one of many coffee shops and tea houses bordering the square; their rooftop terraces offer great views as you unwind with your beverage of choice.
Cures for whatever ails, along with traditional spices with proven medical benefits, can be found in a traditional Berber pharmacy. Indulge in some retail therapy in the medina’s seemingly endless souks.
Other places of interest: the Saadian tombs and mausoleum were originally built in the 16th century but later sealed and only discovered by the French in the early 20th century. El Bahia Palace gives you a taste of the life of a 19th century vizier and his harem. Ben Youssef Medersa, founded in the 14th century, was the largest Islamic college in North Africa at its time and showcases intricate woodwork and tile work.
In the afternoon, relax in the calm of one of many gardens. Majorelle Garden was designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle and showcases an intense cobalt blue hue named after him. Menara Garden, originally built in the 12th century features a large basin and green-tiled pavilion. Agdal Garden was considered a royal orchard filled with fruit and ornamental trees.
Enjoy Marrakech’s finer cuisine in one of many restaurants off the square. Tangia is one of the local specialties of meat slow-cooked in a sealed clay pot.
Today’s late afternoon departure means you have most of the day to enjoy in Marrakech! Delve deeper into the medina, get refreshed at a hammam, a traditional steam bathhouse, try your hand at Moroccan cuisine in a local cooking class or stroll in Gueliz, the modern section of Marrakech filled with upscale shops, trendy restaurants and many art galleries.
Arrive in Casablanca in the early evening. Many travelers choose to spend their last night at Rick’s Cafe, a cafe, bar and restaurant built to recreate the ambiance of the movie, Casablanca.
Bid farewell to Morocco during today’s transfer to the airport.
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Address: 2 Lot Mseffer Rte Imouzer
Res Zomoroda 2, n°11
30050 Fes, Morocco