Take A Trip Back In Time At Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Morocco is tied with Ethiopia in having the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa, with an impressive nine. Many are thousands of years old, and some have been continuously inhabited ever since they were founded. Here are all of Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites — From ancient Roman ruins to bustling medinas — and why you should go.

medina essaouira

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Medina Of Essaouira

The entire medina of Essaouira is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the area in and around it has been populated since prehistoric times. The medina was also featured in the Game of Thrones TV show.

Why you should go: 

The many streets and alleys of the medina are fascinating to explore for a day. While there, you can admire all the old architecture, soak up the local culture, and take home a few souvenirs.

el jadida

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Portuguese City Of Mazagan (El Jadida)

El Jadida is located a little over an hour south of Casablanca and is famous for the Portuguese buildings throughout the city. The large fortified wall is one of the most impressive in the city.

Why you should go: 

Spend some time walking around the historic environment before heading to one of the numerous cafes by the sea to relax.

volubilis ruins

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Archaeological Site Of Volubilis

Volubilis is an ancient Roman city that was abandoned 1,000 years ago. After it was abandoned, many of the stones were used to build the Bab Mansour Gate in Meknes, so you’ll have to travel there to see the rest of what is left.

Why you should go: 

Despite the stones that were taken, the site is still one of the most well-preserved sites in the country, and it’s worth going just to see the edge of the Roman Empire without going to Italy.

Fez tanneries (Shutterstock)

Fez tanneries (Shutterstock)

Medina Of Fez

The medina of Fez is one of the grandest in the country and includes close to 9,000 streets running through it. It’s also filled with artisans that still make the same things they have for centuries.

Why you should go: 

One of the most interesting parts of the medina is the tannery. While you might have to cover your nose because of the smell, it’s the oldest in the world and worth watching for awhile.

medina of tetouan

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Medina Of Tétouan

The lovely medina of Tétouan is covered in hundreds of white houses that ascend to the top of the hill to create a dramatic effect. It was the main point of contact between Morocco and Andalusia for centuries, and was the home of Andalusian refugees after they were expelled by the Spanish. The medina is the most complete in the country.

Why you should go: 

Wander around the streets to explore the incredible architecture, then pop into a shop to discover the crafts from the leather workers and artisans.

tour hassan rabat

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Rabat, Modern Capital And Historic City

Both the modern and historic part of this coastal Moroccan city are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The new city was built by the French in the early 20th century while the old parts of the city date back to the 12th century.

Why you should go: 

Be sure to visit the Hassan Mosque (which started construction in 1184), Chellah (an ancient Roman outpost), and the bustling medina.

ait ben haddou

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Ksar Of Ait-Ben-Haddou

The fortified city of Ait-Ben-Haddou seems to appear like a giant mirage in the desert and is one of the most picturesque of the UNESCO sites in Morocco. The city was built of mud adobe hundreds of years ago, but has been mostly abandoned. Ait-Ben-Haddou has also served as the backdrop in Game of Thrones and Gladiator.

Why you should go: 

You can spend a few hours getting lost in the ancient paths of the city, or stay overnight in one of the guest houses. You’re sure to be amazed that a city like this still exists.

posztos/Shutterstock

posztos/Shutterstock

Medina Of Marrakech

Not much has changed in centuries in this medina, except the throngs of tourists flocking to see it all. The medina was founded way back in 1070 by the Almoravids and has been a thriving area ever since.

Why you should go: 

The experience in Marrakech is like no other. Be sure to see the Djemaa El Fna, Koutoubiya Mosque, Kasbah, and dozens of monumental doors throughout the area.

meknes gate

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Historic City Of Meknes

Like Marrakech, Meknes was founded by the Almoravids. It was also the capital for a time under Sultan Moulay Ismail, who turned it into a Spanish-Moorish style city. Today, both European and Islamic styles of architecture are apparent throughout the city.

Why you should go: 

The city contains some of the best architecture of any Moroccan city, and just walking around will be a feast for the eyes. Be sure to see the Bou Inania Medersa, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Bab Mansour gate.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Bonus:

Outside of the wonderful UNESCO sites Morocco already has, there are several that are on the tentative list. Some of the places worth checking out include Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, El Gour, and Parc Natural De Talassemtane.

Why you should go: 

Just because it isn’t on the UNESCO list doesn’t mean it isn’t of value. If you’re a cultural or history buff, Morocco has plenty of sites to see everywhere you go.
Related content on AFKTravel: 

Why You Should Visit Ethiopia’s Remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites
QUIZ: Can You Name These UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Africa?
10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa That Will Blow Your Mind


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