Click to see tours that include visits to Ait Ben Haddou.
About a 30-minute drive from Ouarzazate, Morocco, or a long day-trip from Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou is a fortified village (ksar) in south-central Morocco. It’s only one of many ksars built by the indigenous Amazighen (Berbers) in the area, but, thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a setting for a long list of Hollywood films, this ksar, unlike its fellows, is well preserved. It sits in the southern foothills of the High Atlas Mountains on the old trade route between the Sahara desert and Marrakech. Continue reading →
This North African country was the first to acknowledge the independence of the United States of America.* In 1777, seeking to expand foreign trade, the country’s sultan opened his ports to several European countries with which he did not have treaties, and to the brand new nation of the USA. In treating the United States just as he did partner countries with formal agreements, he legitimized its independence.
The Americans were focused on their revolutionary war at the time and it took a few years for a proper response. Ultimately, a Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed by both nations in 1786. Although renegotiated some 50 years later, this treaty is still in effect and is America’s longest standing treaty.
*France was the first to formally recognize US independence by treaty, in 1778.
The tannery pictured above operates in the same way it has done for 1,000 years. It’s located in the heart of the old town in one of our mystery country’s most visited cities. Visitors can look out over the tannery from the upper floors of surrounding leather shops. Hides are cured in cow urine, lime and pigeon poop and then dunked in vats of natural dye. A sprig of mint held at your nose will take the edge off the powerful smell.
Can you name that country?What about the site?
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Founded in the 8th century, Fez is the intellectual, cultural and spiritual center of Morocco. The Medina, or Old City, is one of the best preserved medieval cities anywhere. Today, the pungent, labyrinthine Medina pulses with daily life much as it has for over 1,000 years. The Medina consists of the larger and older Fes el Bali, parts of which date to the 9th century, and Fes Jdid, which originated in the 13th century. Fes el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the most interesting sites in the Medina are the many gates that pierce the ancient city walls. Here are just a few: Continue reading →