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Taking you from tetouan to marrakech

{{cta(‘b3e1cbc4-a2f6-4430-b8af-5bc850119534′,’justifycenter’)}}A few years ago I took a trip through the country of Morocco. But before I tell you where I started and where I ended up, let me give you a bit of a backstory. I am originally from Tetouan even though I’m born and raised in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tetouan is where my family is originally from and in the summer of 2018, we decided to take a trip with a car down to Marrakech. This was a trip for the ages and what shocked me the most is how different the culture is between the two cities.

Today I will tell you about my journey, the history’s and cultures of these cities and how I experienced a major amount of cultural differences and possibilities between these two cities. But I will also let you know a little bit more about the origins of the city, how it came to exist and what role they play in the country of Morocco. But let’s start with the city of Tetouan.

Tetouan: The white dove

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 22.20.55Tetouan or تطوان‎ in Arabic is the 11th biggest city in Morocco, with a population count of roughly 380.000. It lies in the far north of the country about 60 km from Tangier. A funny fact about Tetouan is that during the Spanish occupation in 1913, it became the capital of the country, it remained the capital until Morocco gained independence in 1956.

Tetouan is a renowned multicultural centre. The medina of Tetouan is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997 and is also renowned in the area of crafts and folk art since 2017. Tetouan’s culture actually originated from how the city was built. Because there were many different kinds of people building this city it created a vastly different culture and aspects of living than other cities. It is actually characterized by the Andalusian style and the Spanish influences that it got from during the occupation.

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 22.20.53There are also Berber and Jewish influences present in this city. Because of how multicultural the people are that live in this city this creates actually a unique city culture and perspective. For example, the architecture of the city best represents the architecture that you can find in cities like Granada and Gibraltar in Spain. This shows you how the Spanish and Andalusian influences have gotten to not only the people but also how they live.

Tetouan is called the white dove because if you approach the city from Tangier the white buildings in Tetouan look like a white dove.{{cta(‘b3e1cbc4-a2f6-4430-b8af-5bc850119534′,’justifycenter’)}}

The journey

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 22.20.20The fastest route from Tetouan to Marrakech will take you around seven hours with a car. But that is only if you can take the astounding heat that will rise when you go inwards in the country. First, you pass through Tangier, a city that was actually a free city during the colonial age of Spain and France, who both held the North and South of Morocco. They had an argument during the deal where they split the land and decided to keep Tangier international territory. Tanger differs in Its culture a lot. This became about because of the people Tangier attracted during their period as a “free” city. And also, because the Colonizers, France and Spain didn’t have any influences on this city it differs a lot from the rest of the country. Luckily the first four hours you will travel along the east coast of Morocco having a sight of the enormous Northern Atlantic Ocean. This will help you cool off and take a beautiful trip in between highways to mountain roads and through small little towns with amazing pottery and food. Seafood is a big part of the people that live here and there are small and big restaurants that have their own specialities spreading from tuna to prawns.

WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 22.20.54Around 3 to 4 hours into the trip you come across Rabat or الرباط‎ in Arabic.  Rabat is at this time the capital of the country of Morocco. The monarch of the country lives here most of the time during a calendar year. This is also because Rabat is the centre of political power in Morocco. Rabat has a lot of French influences and you can see this in the architecture and that the people in Rabat talk French and not Spanish like in the north. An hour later and you come across Casablanca which means the white house in Spanish. Casablanca is the social-economic centre of Morocco. All the big companies from the country have their headquarters in Casablanca. This means that Casablanca’s culture can spread very far, across the whole country actually. Because the companies that make TV-programs and the news reside there. Casablanca also has one of the biggest mosques in the world. Mosque Hassan II which the old king (Father of the current king) ordered though build. They actually named it Hassan II which is the same name as the king.

And after a long journey, you go inwards in the country, going towards the east. This is where you feel a more dry and high heat because of the Sahara that is on the south side. And then you will eventually arrive at the Red City: Marrakech.

Marrakech: The red city

pexels-nicolas-postiglioni-943510Marrakech or مراكش in Arabic is the touristic centre of power in Morocco. It brings a lot of income through the touristic activities and the culture that attracts the tourists. It has around one million people living in this city that come from countries all around the world. A funny thing about the name is actually that Marrakech is where the name Morocco comes from. Because the country in Arabic is called: المغرب‎ which you can translate to The west. This is funny because this means that a country’s name is actually based around a city in the country where it normally is the other way around.

Marrakech is called the red city for one particular reason, around and in the city, every building is made out of the red clay that is in that area, that is how it has got its name the Red city. Marrakech is positioned against two very different areas. In the north-east, you find the Atlas Mountains, which is fresh and green a vivid. But in the south, you can find the Sahara Desert which actually is the explanation for the extremely hot weather that can reach 50 degrees Celsius during midday. Marrakech is influenced by the Sahara and West-Afrika in different aspects, for example, you have the music style Gnaoua which originates from West-Afrika.WhatsApp Image 2020-10-28 at 22.02.48

Another fact about the red city is that it is only one of two places in Morocco where they can make Argan Oil. The world-famous oil that is used in a lot of hair products and food. The plants that make this oil only grows in Marrakech and Agadir. Marrakech in the past was also the capital of the Berber kingdom in the middle ages until the Arabs came from the middle east.

The culture of Marrakech is highly influenced by the French, West- Afrika, Arabs and Berbers. Marrakech different from the north has no Spanish influences because Spain did not own Marrakech in the colonial age. If you want my advice, you need to visit the Koutoubia, the big square of Marrakech is the place to be if you want to experience its culture and people, during the night. The square will be full of food stands, music, snake charmers and art. If you want to experience the culture of Marrakech, you have to go to the Koutoubia, it is amazing.


An end to a journey:

So now the question is because these cities are so different, is it worth visiting them all? In my opinion, of course, they are. The Andalusian heritage and culture of Tetouan that resembles diversity and change throughout the centuries. How it’s a metropolis of people that live, visit or just pass through. And how during the summertime it’s so busy and full of music and cosiness. And on the other hand, the city’s of Tanger, Rabat and Casablanca all amazing in their own way, whilst keeping the same morocco flavour in them, but still at the same time being completely different from one another. And if we are talking about Marrakech, is there any doubt that you should visit this amazing city? Hell no, in my opinion, it’s a must-see for every person that wants to travel the world.

The Koutoubia will be one of the most amazing places you will ever see in your life.  And the gigantic mosque of Marrakech filled which such heritage and class are amazing to visit for every person that want to see the influences of the Arabic’s from the middle east.

So tell me? Are you now convinced to visit one or more of these amazing cities and take a beautiful trip through beaches, mountains, amazing cities and the dessert, that you can all find in the beautiful country of Morocco.{{cta(‘b3e1cbc4-a2f6-4430-b8af-5bc850119534′,’justifycenter’)}}

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