Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace) – “the incomparable palace” -- Marrakech, Morocco, is a ruined palace that was commissioned by the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty some

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace) – “the incomparable palace” — Marrakech, Morocco, is a ruined palace that was commissioned by the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty sometime shortly after his accession in 1578

 

Palais Badii (El Badi Palace) “(Arabic:قصر البديع‎; meaning the incomparable palace) is a ruined palace located in Marrakesh, Morocco.  It was commissioned by the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty sometime shortly after his accession in 1578.  The palace’s construction was funded by a substantial ransom paid by the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings.  The palace took fifteen years to build, with construction finally completed around 1593 and was a lavish display of the best craftmanship of the Saadian period.  Constructed using some of the most expensive materials of the time, including gold and onyz, the colonnades are said to be constructed from marble exchanged with Italian merchants for their equivalent weight in sugar.  The original building is thought to have consisted of 360 richly decorated rooms, a courtyard (135×110 m) and a central pool (90×20 m).  After the fall of the Saadians and the rise of the Alaouite dynasty, the palace entered a period of rapid decline.  Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif stripped the building of its contents, building materials and decorations, to be used in the construction of his new palace in his new capital at Meknes.” – Wikipedia

The most unusual architectural and landscape design at Palais Badii (El Badi Palace) is that the four square courtyards in the center of the palace are lower than the walkways and are planted with orange trees so that the top of the trees is at the shoe level of visitors walking around the palace (see photographs, below).

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #2; note the High Atlas Mountains, to the south, visible in the background

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #2; note the High Atlas Mountains, to the south, visible in the background

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #3; the orange trees were full of fruit

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #3; the orange trees were full of fruit

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #4

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #4

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #5

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #5

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #6 – while all the marble and carved decorations of the palace were removed years later, these mosaic floors remain

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #6 – while all the marble and carved decorations of the palace were removed years later, these mosaic floors remain

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #7 – a view of the city from the top of the palace

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #7 – a view of the city from the top of the palace

 

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #8 -- a view of the city from the top of the palace

Palais Badii (El Badii Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #8 — a view of the city from the top of the palace

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #1

PaPalais Bahia (Bahia Palace) is a palace and a set of gardens in Marrakesh, Morocco, built in the late 19th century and intended to be the greatest palace of its time; the name means “brilliance”

 

”Imagine what you could build with Morocco’s top artisans at your service for 14 years, and here you have it.  The salons of both the petit riad and grand riad host intricate marquetry and zouak (painted wood) ceilings while the vast grand courtyard, trimmed in jaunty blue and yellow, leads to the Room of Honour, with a spectacular cedar ceiling.  The harem offers up yet more dazzling interiors with original woven-silk panels, stained glass windows and rose-bouquet painted ceilings.  The floor-to-ceiling decoration here was begun by Grand Vizier Si Moussa in the 1860s and embellished from 1894 to 1900 by slave-turned-vizier Abu ‘Bou’ Ahmed.  In 1908 the palace’s beguiling charms attracted warlord Pasha Glaoui, who claimed it as a suitable venue to entertain French guests.  They, in turn, were so impressed that they booted out their host in 1911, installing the protectorate’s resident-general in his place.  Though today only a portion of the palace’s eight hectares and 150 rooms is open to the public, there’s still plenty of ornamental frippery on show.  While admiring the tranquil grand courtyard with its floor laid in white Carrara marble, remember this is where people waited in the sun for hours to beg for Bou Ahmed’s mercy.  Bou Ahmed’s four wives and 24 concubines all lived in the lavish interiors of the harem’s small salons.” — http://www.lonelyplanet.com

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #2

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #2

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #3

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #3

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #4

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #4

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #5

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #5

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #6

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #6

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #7

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #7

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #8

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #8

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #9

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #9

 

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #10 – quite unusual in a Moorish-design palace- a Mogen David (Star of David – the “Jewish star”)

Palais Bahia (Bahia Palace), Marrakech, Morocco, #10 – quite unusual in a Moorish-design palace: a Mogen David (Star of David – the “Jewish star”)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Marrakech, Morocco

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was complete

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157

 

Marrakesh, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces and gardens.  The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry.  Today Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco (after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier) with a population approaching one million.  “Red baked-mud medina palaces beneath the snow-capped High Atlas and a powder-pink ring of ramparts around 19 kilometres of seething souqs, Marrakech is Morocco’s most memorable experience.  Founded almost 1000 years ago on the edge of the Sahara, this southern market town grew to become one of the great cities of the Maghreb and a Unesco Heritage site to boot.  But Marrakech isn’t some petrified piece of history that tourists come to gawk at, it’s bursting at the seems with an intense density of life and a modern entrepreneurialism that puts Manhattanites to shame.  This isn’t a place where you can gracefully glide through.  Instead you’ll find yourself telling jokes with snake charmers, dining outdoors in the Djemaa el-Fna, hankering after the latest henna tattoos and getting a hands-on scrub down in the local hammam.  Pause for unexpected beauty and banter often with multi-lingual locals, because what are the chances you’ll come this way again? “ – www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/morocco/marrakech/

“Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls (the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), bordered by modern neighbourhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz.  Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination.  Tourism is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, with the goal of doubling the number of tourists visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020.  Despite the economic recession, real estate and hotel development in Marrakesh has grown dramatically in the 21st century.  Marrakesh is particularly popular with the French, and numerous French celebrities own property in the city.  Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks selling wares ranging from traditional Berber carpets to modern consumer electronics.  Crafts employ a significant percentage of the population, who primarily sell their products to tourists.” —Wikipedia

On our first afternoon in Marrakech our terrific guide, Nor, took us to several of the “must see” highlight spots, along with a long walk through the Mella (old Jewish quarter) and to the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue [see our previous blog, “Hayel Mella”].  The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech, and the most important mosque, is the Koutoubia Mosque (or Kutubiyya Mosque), the largest mosque in the city.  The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers.  The sandstone minaret tower is 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire, itself 8 meters (26 feet) tall.  Construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157.  The minaret is very unusual in that the top of a minaret’s tower traditionally has three globes of copper.  “Supposedly, the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque was to be built with three gold globes.  Ones topping the tower today are composed of copper.  The wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour broke her fast during Ramadan.  To pay her penance, she had her gold jewelry melted and made into a fourth sphere.  Completed during the reign of her husband, this unique minaret was quite a feat of engineering for its time.” – http://www.journeybeyondtravel.com

 

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure g

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure gold from wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour; Morocco

 

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each nigh

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each night, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Unique in all of Morocco is Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter (old city).  It is the main square of the city and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.  “During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, youths with chained Barbary apes and snake charmers despite the protected status of these species under Moroccan law.  As the day progresses, the entertainment on offer changes: the snake charmers depart, and late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines.  As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls as the number of people on the square peaks.  The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market catering both for the common daily needs of the locals, and for the tourist trade.  On other sides are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.” — Wikipedia

“The idea of the UNESCO project ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ came from people concerned about the Jamaa el Fna.  The place is known for its active concentration of traditional activities by storytellers, musicians and performers, but it was threatened by economic development pressures.  In fighting for the protection of traditions, the residents called for action on an international level, to recognize the need for the protection of such places — termed ‘cultural spaces’ — and other popular and traditional forms of cultural expression.  UNESCO encourages communities to identify, document, protect, promote and revitalize such heritage.  The UNESCO label aims to raise awareness about the importance of oral and intangible heritage as an essential component of cultural diversity.” — Wikipedia

 

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

 

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa squa

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is co

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is cooked by placing the entire vessel in hot coals, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “do

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “donuts” on the end used to “catch” a soft drink bottle which is the prize; Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

The entrance to Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter) filled with small shops, apartments and the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue; Morocco

The entrance to Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter) filled with small shops, apartments and the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue; Morocco

 

The fact that Morocco has more than 2,000 years of Jewish heritage surprises many people around the world, including many Jews.  The last remaining Jewish synagogue (temple) in Marrakech – which we visited (see photographs, below) — notes: “The Moroccan Jewish heritage is as diverse as the landscape of Morocco.  This fact adds to the complexity and the plurality of the Moroccan Identity at large.  The Moroccan Jewish diaspora counts more than one million members in the four corners of the world.  A diaspora that continues to cultivate ties to their homeland, Morocco.”

Moroccan Jews are the Jews who live or have lived in the area of the North African country of Morocco.  History records that the first Jews who settled in Morocco arrived around 500 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era, a Jewish term, equivalent to “B.C.” – Before Christ) when the area was under Carthaginian rule.  The first large wave of Jews settling in Morocco were those fleeing Jerusalem and Judea after the Roman army’s defeat of the Jews in 70 C.E. (Common Era, a Jewish term, equivalent to “A.D.”) and the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  These Jews mingled with the Berbers and settled in with them.  Another major wave of immigration occurred with the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 with the “Alhambra Decree” by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in Spain (and subsequently the expulsion in Portugal).  At its peak in the 1940s, the Jewish population of Morocco exceeded 250,000.  Following decades of mass emigration, particularly to Israel, the current population of Jews in Morocco is estimated to be under 5,000, perhaps as few as 2,000 to 2,500.  The vast majority of Moroccan Jews now live in Israel, where Wikipedia reports that they and their families constitute the second-largest community there, numbering nearly one million Jews of Moroccan descent.

The city of Marrakech was home to more than 50,000 Jews, according to a 1947 census.  Now, 71 years later, around 100 are thought to remain, many of them extremely elderly.

As of 2017, according to The Economist, “No Arab country has gone to the lengths of Morocco to revive its Jewish heritage.”  The country has restored 110 synagogues and has the Arab world’s only Jewish museum.

More than 50,000 Israelis visit Morocco annually.  Additionally, Morocco and Israel are understood to be working on joint projects in low-water agriculture, desalinization of water, and other economic projects.  Officially, Morocco has neither diplomatic nor economic ties with Israel, as this is a sensitive topic.  (Note that Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries that have signed peace treaties with Israel.)

 

A small shop selling brilliant colors of paint pigments in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

A small shop selling brilliant colors of paint pigments in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Goods being delivered to shops in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter) arrive by hand, hand-cart, and mule carts; Marrakech, Morocco

Goods being delivered to shops in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter) arrive by hand, hand-cart, and mule carts; Marrakech, Morocco

 

Brightly colored spices displayed conically in a shop in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

Brightly colored spices displayed conically in a shop in Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

The entrance to the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue that dates back to 1492 and the Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain and the Inquisition after the expulsion or

The entrance to the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue that dates back to 1492 and the Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain and the Inquisition after the expulsion order, Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

On our walking tour of Marrakech, our guide took us to Hayel Mella, the old walled Jewish quarter.  The area for decades had been slowly taken over by Arab families as the Jews emigrated.  The quarter is now mostly filled with small shops, comparable to those in the Kasbah and souks around the city.  In recent years there has been major investment in and refurbishment of the Mella, including the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue.  This place of worship and study was built originally in 1492 with the arrival of Jews fleeing the Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Spain.  Known as the “synagogue of the exiles,” it hosted generations of young Berbers who converted to Judaism and were sent from villages in the region to learn the Torah, before finally being deserted in the 1960s.  It has been carefully restored and now is used for weekly Shabbat services as well as holiday services. Many of its former classrooms have been converted into a museum telling the history of Morocco’s Jews and their culture.

 

The main prayer room of Slat el-Azama Synagogue, Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

The main prayer room of Slat el-Azama Synagogue, Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Old photographs in the museum section of Slat el-Azama Synagogue (former classrooms), showing some of “Les Juifs d_Atlas” (The Jews of the Atlas Mountains), Hayel Mella (the old wa

Old photographs in the museum section of Slat el-Azama Synagogue (former classrooms), showing some of “Les Juifs d’Atlas” (The Jews of the Atlas Mountains), Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

The inner courtyard of Slat el-Azama Synagogue, open to the sky, has upper level railings in the design of menorahs (candelabras), Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech,

The inner courtyard of Slat el-Azama Synagogue, open to the sky, has upper level railings in the design of menorahs (candelabras), Hayel Mella (the old walled Jewish quarter), Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

The narrow arched street entrance to Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco, does not convey the size or architectural elegance of the riad (a traditional Moroccan medina house) where we

The narrow arched street entrance to Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco, does not convey the size or architectural elegance of the riad (a traditional Moroccan medina house) where we stayed in the city

 

Taking the recommendation from some good friends, we booked our stay in Marrakech, Morocco, at Villa des Orangers.  We thoroughly enjoyed staying in an oasis in the heart of the city, on the edge of the Medina (old city).  The architecture is traditional Moorish style with elegantly carved decorations throughout the riad – as seen in the photographs, below.  [“Moorish architecture is the articulated Islamic architecture of North Africa and parts of Spain and Portugal, where the Andalusians were dominant between 711 and 1492.” – Wikipedia]

 

The villa is named Villa des Orangers because of the large number of orange trees on the property – seen here is the main patio-courtyard with a beautiful fountain; Marrakech, Morocco

The villa is named Villa des Orangers because of the large number of orange trees on the property – seen here is the main patio/courtyard with a beautiful fountain; Marrakech, Morocco

 

“Located close to the famous Jemaa El Fna square, the Villa des Orangers is a riad, a traditional medina house.  This elegant and pleasant hotel with 27 rooms and suites is built around three verdant patios with a fountain, leading to galleries with carved plaster arcades.  Upstairs, suites with private terraces overlook the medina.  Rooftops converted into swimming pools, gardens, and sun decks overlook the old town and the Koutoubia Mosque, and have an unobstructed view of the Atlas mountains.  The three lounges each have a fireplace, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are unique places to unwind in the calmest of settings.  On the garden side, the hotel also has sumptuous suites with balconies overlooking a large heated pool and two restaurant rooms, where you can savour Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.” — http://www.relaischateaux,com

 

The fountain in the main patio, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

The fountain in the main patio, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Elaborately carved doors with Moorish geometric designs, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

Elaborately carved doors with Moorish geometric designs, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A view of the orange trees, arches and columns of the main patio-courtyard as seen from the upper level, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

A view of the orange trees, arches and columns of the main patio/courtyard as seen from the upper level, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Architectural details, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

Architectural details, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Details of one of the columns in the main patio-courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

Details of one of the columns in the main patio/courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A second patio-courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

A second patio/courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Details of the columns and ceiling of the second patio-courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

Details of the columns and ceiling of the second patio/courtyard, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

The door to our room with finely carved designs, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

The door to our room with finely carved designs, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

The 25-meter swimming pool was heated and offered a refreshing break each afternoon after our touring, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

The 25-meter swimming pool was heated and offered a refreshing break each afternoon after our touring, Villa des Orangers, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: A Typical Berber Breakfast in a Berber village home, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited i

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited into a family’s home; Morocco

 

From the viewpoint in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, we hiked down to one of Asni’s Berber villages.  On the way into town we saw a little girl, about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her to her home where we were warmly greeted (in the Berber language, translated by our Berber guide from Imlil) by her mother and invited in for a traditional Berber breakfast.  Afterwards we hiked back (about 15 minutes) to our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, and passed a number of women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that were heading south to open public lands where the flocks could graze.  A pretty idyllic scene!

 

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Our hostess -- the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother_s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home -- se

Our hostess — the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home — served us a traditional Berber breakfast; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

“The Amazigh (Berber) cuisine is a traditional cuisine with a varied history and influence of numerous flavours from distinct regions across North Africa. The traditional cuisine draws influences from Morocco’s Atlas mountains and heavily populated Berber cities and regions, as well as Algeria’s Berber cities and regions.” – Wilkipedia

On the breakfast tray were (pictured clockwise, from the lower left) a bowl of nuts and roasted chickpeas (garbonzo beans), amlou (see below), olive oil, green olives, honey, savory crackers, black olives and (center) homemade cheesey butter.  Separately we were served a bread basket with two large rounds of homemade bread (flour and semolina).  And, of course, there was freshly made mint tea, the national drink.

Amlou, a thick brown paste with a texture similar to organic peanut butter, is a Berber recipe that consists of a mixture of argan oil (grown in Morocco) and almonds and honey.  Amlou has been likened to a sort of Moroccan nutella (made from Hazelnuts in the Piedmonte region of northern Italy).

 

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess_ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess’ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Moro

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Hiking in Toubkal National Park from Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

As we started our uphill hike in Toubkal National Park from near our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, we looked back at one of the nearby Berber villages that are districts of Asni, High Atlas Mo

As we started our uphill hike in Toubkal National Park from near our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, we looked back at one of the nearby Berber villages that are districts of Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Down the road from Kasbah Tamadot, just south of the town of Asni, Morocco, is a path that leads uphill into Toubkal National Park, which was created by the Moroccan government in 1942.  We had hired an expert on trekking in the High Atlas Mountains (from Imlil, a Berber village home to many mountain muleteers, cooks and guides) to be our guide for a “two hour hike” that ended up being a 4.5 hour hike up to a fantastic panoramic viewpoint plus a 45-minute visit to a nearby Berber village. The highest point in the park, visible from both our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, and the upper parts of the trail we hiked, is snow capped Jebel Toubkal (4,167 meters/13,671 feet),

 

The setting of Sir Richard Branson_s resort, Kasbah Tamadot, as seen from uphill in Toubkal National Park, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The setting of Sir Richard Branson’s resort, Kasbah Tamadot, as seen (in the foreground) from uphill in Toubkal National Park, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

A close-up view of Sir Richard Branson_s resort, Kasbah Tamadot, as seen from uphill_

A close-up view of Sir Richard Branson’s resort, Kasbah Tamadot, as seen from uphill in Toubkal National Park, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

The trails in Toubkal National Park are very well maintained, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The trails in Toubkal National Park are very well maintained, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

The highest peak in Toubkal National Park is snowcapped Jebel Toubkal (4,167 meters-13,671 feet) – [upper center, left] -- High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The highest peak in Toubkal National Park is snowcapped Jebel Toubkal (4,167 meters/13,671 feet) – [upper center, left] — High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

A panorama of our 180 degree view from a spectacular viewpoint at about 5,500 foot (1,676 meters) elevation in Toubkal National Park, that we reached after about 10 minutes of cross-coun

A panorama of our 180 degree view from a spectacular viewpoint at about 5,500 foot (1,676 meters) elevation in Toubkal National Park, that we reached after about 10 minutes of cross-country hiking uphill from the main trail; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Toward the north, the mountain range turned into iron-rich clay soil covered lower hills, Toubkal National Park, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Toward the north, the mountain range turned into iron-rich clay soil covered lower hills, Toubkal National Park, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

From the viewpoint, we climbed down the mountains to the closest Berber village (technically, a district of Asni) – in the foreground of the photograph -- High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

From the viewpoint, we climbed down the mountains to the closest Berber village (technically, a district of Asni) – in the foreground of the photograph — High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.