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Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Ksar of Ait Ben-Haddou

There are 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco, here are brief descriptions of what you can expect to see at each of the sites:

The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is an example of a traditional pre-Saharan habitat, surrounded by high walls and reinforced with corner towers. Aït Benhaddou is a ‘fortified city’, or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ounila River and is known for its kasbahs, although they take damage with each rainstorm. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; however, ten families still live within the ksar. Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

The fortification of The Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida), akin to Renaissance military design from the early 16th century, was taken over by Morocco in 1769. El Jadida is a port city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. From the sea, El Jadida’s old city has a very “un-Moorish” appearance; it has massive Portuguese walls of hewn stone. The Portuguese Fortified City of Mazagan was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, on the basis of its status as an “outstanding example of the interchange of influences between European and Moroccan cultures” and as an “early example of the realisation of the Renaissance ideals integrated with Portuguese construction

Manueline Cistern of El Jadida

technology”. According to UNESCO, the most important buildings from the Portuguese period are the cistern, and the Manueline Church of the Assumption.

The Medina of Fez was founded in the 9th century and features the world’s oldest university. Fes el Bali is the oldest and walled part of Fes. Fes el Bali was originally founded as the capital of the Idrisid Dynasty in between 789 and 808 AD. Besides being famous for having the oldest university in the world, Fes el Bali, with a total population of 156 000, is also believed to be the biggest car-free urban area in the world. Fes el Bali was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1981 under the name Medina of Fes. The world heritage site includes Fes el Bali’s urban fabric and walls and a buffer zone around Fes el Bali.

The Historic City of Meknes was founded in the 11th century and turned into a city with Spanish-Moorish influence during the 17th and 18th centuries…

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