NAME THAT COUNTRY

This is Kasbah Taourirt in Ouarzazate, a Sahara Desert gateway town in the center-south of our mystery country. Taourirt was built in the 19th century by the Glaoui, a ruling clan of the south. UNESCO has restored the palace section of the kasbah and it is open to tourists. The Kasbah was a small fortified village, with multiple single-family dwellings inside, as well as the palace, and several families still live there.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 130

The former Imperial City of Meknes is in the north of our mystery country. Meknes was the seat of the ruling Alaouite Dynasty from the late 17th century to the early 19th century. The dynasty’s founder Sultan Moulay Ismail vowed to make his city rival Versailles and by most accounts succeeded. Some of that grandeur remains, including the glorious Bab el-Mansour gate pictured above. One of the country’s top tourist attractions, the Roman site of Volubilis, is about 30 minutes away from Meknes.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 120

The “blue city” of Chefchaouen is a meditation on the divine, often represented by the color blue in Jewish tradition.The village was founded in 1471 by Jews and Muslims fleeing the Spanish Reconquest. Jews also fled here prior to World War II, but most left upon the founding of Israel in 1948.

Chefchaouen is tucked into the Rif Mountains in the northwest of our mystery country, a compact maze of narrow lanes framed by crisp blue and white Andalusian architecture. Although it’s several hours from the population centers and tourist hubs of the country, more and more visitors are making the trek to experience the crisp air and relatively low-key charms of this mountain jewel.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 111

The cultural hub of one of our mystery country’s most famous cities is pictured above. Jemaa el Fna square is known for its manic atmosphere, especially after the sun sets. Locals and visitors come here to see traditional musicians, dancers and story tellers and enjoy fresh squeezed juice and a hot meal from the many food stalls.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 102

The village of Imlil is tucked into the High Atlas Mountains. Trekkers use Imlil as a base for climbing Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. However, you needn’t be a mountain climber to enjoy the crisp air, soaring views and traditional charms of this Berber village. It makes a great day trip from Marrakech, only 90 minutes away.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 92

This Sahara desert camp is tucked into the Erg Chebi dunes near the village of Merzouga near the southeastern border of our mystery country. Most campers at this spot come through the oasis town of Erfoud, about a 90 minute drive to the northwest. This is glamping for sure. Tents are furnished with very comfortable beds, antique carpets and private toilets, showers and sinks. Sumptuous, multi-course meals are prepared in a kitchen tent right on the spot and served in a dining tent or in the open-air. After dark, local villagers entertain with traditional music and dancing around a central bonfire. Exploring the dunes by camel or on foot is encouraged, especially at sunset and sunrise, but only with a guide.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 83

Volubilis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in a fertile plain at the foot of the Jbel Zerhoun (jbel = mountain), in the northwest of our mystery country.

From about 300BCE, Volubilis was the capital of the indigenous Berber kingdom of Mauritania. In 44CE, the area became the Roman province of Mauritania, with Volubilis as its capital. As a Roman provincial town, Volubilis was about as far out in the sticks as you could go. Despite this remoteness, it developed into a fine little city. Evidence of large-scale cultivation and processing of grains and olives suggests the area was something of a bread-basket for Rome.

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