World Heritage Sites are sites in certain countries that have been deemed by UNESCO to be of outstanding cultural or natural importance. This value is universal and so preserving such sites is seen as being beneficial to the entire world’s population. Most of the cultural heritage sites are historical in nature and provide evidence of the way early cultures lived their day-to-day lives. These sites provide a wealth of information and form part of a world of history that would remain dead and buried were it not for the discovery and study of such amazing archaeological ruins. There are as many as eight designated World Heritage Sites in Morocco.
These ancient Roman ruins were originally part of the Mauritanian capital that was established in the area in 3 BC. In its prime Volubilis graced with many stunning buildings and although today all that remains are some ruins, the remaining structures and intricate mosaics have been preserved as a reminder of a city that once thrived.
Founded in the 11th century as a military settlement, this great city developed into a place of great beauty, filled with superb examples of Spanish-Moorish styled architecture, much of which is still present today. Parts of the city, such as the enormous doors of the city, were constructed from materials looted from Volubilis.
Ait Ben Haddou:
Lying along the ancient caravan route between the Sahara Desert and the city of Marrakech, this amazing group of earthen buildings is a striking example of the ancient and practical architecture used in the southern parts of Morocco. Situated in the Quarzazate province, the buildings are surrounded by high, defensive walls which are reinforced by corner towers. This uniquely beautiful site has been used in a number of movies, including The Jewel of the Nile, The Living Daylights, Gladiator and Alexander.
This once humble fishing village developed into a strategically significant seaport which was used by pirates in the 1500s. Within the city’s fortified walls, the Medina of Essaouira has been preserved and many buildings remain much the same as when they were constructed back in the 18th century.
With a history that goes right back to the 9th century, the Medina of Fez is Morocco’s cultural and spiritual centre. The Medina consists of numerous beautifully preserved historical buildings, including mosques, palaces, residential home and squares with fountains, all set in a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways which are fascinating to explore.
The Medina of Marrakech was established in the 11th century with successive occupants leaving their mark on the fascinating architecture of the city. The Almoravids built some of the most impressive structures in the Medina, including the Kasbah, a number of magnificent mosques and an open-air theatre which still stands today. The tombs of several prominent figures are located in the Medina of Marrakech and attract visitors from all over the world.
Kingdom of Morocco
King: Mohammed VI
Population: 2014 - 33 Million
Currency: Moroccan Dirham, DH (MAD)
Morocco Country Code: 212
Location: North Africa
Official Language: Arabic,Tamazight (Berber), On July 1st, 2011 Tamazight was recognized as an official language of Morocco.
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy
Area: 710,850 / 274,460 sq mi
Largest Moroccan City: Casablanca
Morocco Independence: March 2, 1956 from France. April 7, 1956 from Spain
Fun Facts about Morocco
The Sahara is the world's largest desert. Only a small part of the Sahara is fertile and it is here that corn, dates and other fruits grow. These parts are fed by underground rivers and oases. The Sahara can be an inspirational experience at night, with the air being crisp, clean and clear and the stars being so close you can almost touch them.
The Sahara desert stretches across much of North Africa covering over 9,000,000 square kilometers (roughly the size of the United States). In fact, the Sahara covers some 30% of the entire African continent. It is the hottest place in the world with summer temperatures that often exceeds 57 Celsius. It has an annual rainfall of 0 - 25 millimeters and is very windy with windstorms sweeping the sand up to heights of 1000 meters and moving the sand dunes constantly.
The Sahara consists of one quarter volcanic mountains, one quarter sand, rocks and gravel-covered plains and small areas of vast permanent vegetation. The vegetation includes shrubs, grasses, and trees in the highland and in the oases along the river beds. Some of the plants are well adjusted to the climate since they sprout within three days of rain and sow their seeds within two weeks after that.
Animals in the Sahara are mainly Gerbils, Cape Hare, Deer, Weasels, Baboons, Jackals, Sand Foxes, Mongooses, Desert Hedgehogs and over 300 bird species.