Morocco is a country with a rich culture and civilisation. The culture of Morocco is a blend of Arab, Amazighs, Jewish, African and Western European cultures. It represents and is shaped by a convergence of influences throughout history. Throughout the ages, numerous races have come down to Morocco from the various corners of the world and have been absorbed into the mainstream of Moroccan society. Their particular customs, traditions and beliefs have influenced Moroccan culture, giving it a unique multi-cultural identity.
Morocco is special with its own culture. This sphere may include, among others, the fields of personal or collective behaviors, language, customs, knowledge, beliefs, arts, legislation, gastronomy, music, poetry, architecture, etc…. Magical Morocco culture with its myriad colorful motifs and most of them lie embedded in the rich culture of Morocco. With its vibrant colors, cacophony of sounds, blistering sun, the smells of the spice markets, and thousands of exotic sights, This unique North African country combines a stunning natural landscape with distinctive architecture, a rich culture, and famously welcoming locals.
Moroccan culture is also praised for language diversity. Morocco has always been successful in combining its Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage with external influences such as the French and the Spanish and, during the last decades, the Anglo-American lifestyles. Islam is the official religion of Morocco, but the coexistence with other religions is perfect. Each region possesses its own specificities, thus contributing to the national culture and to the legacy of civilization.
Morocco is a land of art and history, since independence, a veritable blossoming has taken place in painting and sculpture, popular music, amateur theatre, and filmmaking. Exquisite is one word that aptly describes the artistic works of Morocco. The Moroccan artisans are known all over the world for their intricate woodworks, most of which are sculpted and painted ornately. The colorful and the beautifully adorned pottery done by the Berber people of Morocco are also very popular amongst the tourists. Morocco carpets with wonderstruck has story to tell about one particular aspect of Morocco culture and her people.
Moroccan Architecture has been greatly influenced by numerous architectural styles such as Arabic architecture for fountains, Geometric Design and Islamic calligraphy, Persians techniques for tiling concept (Zellige), Al-Andaluz Architecture (Southern Spanish) for Andalusian gardens and arches. More recent buildings are influenced by French architecture due to France occupying Morocco in 1912. Modern buildings keep a balanced combination of all these architecture style.
The multi-ethnic character of the culture of Morocco is nowhere more evident than in her music and dance forms. The village and ritual music brought on by the Berber people, the rock- influenced Chaabi music, the Algerian Gharnati form of music and the languorously mystical Gnawa music of the Sub-Saharan people. There are also many dance forms prevalent in Morocco, the most prominent amongst them being the Guerda Dance, the Casbah Dance and the very exotic and the very enchanting Belly Dance. The Moroccan National Theatre (founded 1956) offers regular productions of Moroccan and French dramatic works. Art and music festivals take place throughout the country during the summer months, among them the World Sacred Music Festival at Fès.
Morocco has set among its top priorities the protection of its diverse legacy and the preservation of its cultural heritage. Museum of moroccan arts dar el Makhzan: collections from different regions archéological museum: superb roman mosaïc of Trois Grâces Museum Dar Jamaï archéological museum Musée of Oudayas: carpets collection Museum Dar Batha: marocan ceramics Museum Dar Si Saïd. Morocco counts museums which group together objects culturally and scientifically of high importance. These objects teach on prehistoric Morocco, crossroads of civilizations, steelyard, Berber or Arabic. Sites of high scientific content deliver regularly secrets on the fact what was the life, the fauna and the flflora, through millions of years.
Morocco is also known for its rich traditional food culture. Subtly composed of a wide variety of striking flavours and scents, Moroccan cuisine draws its originality from a combination between Berber, Arab-Andalusian, and Jewish culinary traditions. Thanks to its rich cultural heritage specific to each region, Morocco has built an undisputed reputation worldwide.
A warm welcome, magnificent landscapes, a secular culture, get a taste of traditional Moroccan experiences in every corner, immersed in the charm of Moroccan art of living. A rich country in long-standing culture, Morocco is home to vibrant preserved traditions through generations. People traditionally get to know each other while having a thirst-quencher tea. Nothing is better than a warm welcoming accompanied by some tasty Moroccan delicacies.
Stroll the streets of each medina, observe the hidden details of Moroccan daily life. As a meditaranean country, Morocco is renowned for its friendly gatherings: from a refreshing tea ceremony to a delicious Couscous, the staple of solidarity, to a colourful folklore celebration. Every festival, ritual or special gathering is a symbol of the the living arts in the country.
Traditional clothing, which is still commun during festivals and ceremonies, is now adopting an innovative style. From caftan to babouche, it is available in all styles and many designers offer models both arty and trendy. The traditional dress for men and women is called djellaba (جلابة); a long, loose, hooded garment with full sleeves. The djellaba has a hood that comes to a point called a qob. The qob protects the wearer from the sun or in colder climates, like the mountains, the qob keeps in body heat and protects the face from falling snow. For special occasions, men also wear a red cap called a bernousse, more commonly referred to as a Fez. Women wear kaftans (قفطان) decorated with ornaments.
Nearly all men, and most women, wear balgha (بلغة) – soft leather slippers with no heel, often dyed yellow. Women also wear high-heeled sandals, often with silver or gold tinsel. The distinction between a djellaba and a kaftan is the hood on the djellaba, which a kaftan lacks. Most women’s djellabas are brightly colored and have ornate patterns, stitching, or beading, while men’s djellabas are usually plainer and colored neutrally.
Among some traditional cultural and artistic traditions, jewellery of the Berber cultures worn by Berber women and made of silver, beads and other applications was a common trait of Berber identities in large areas of the Maghreb up to the second half of the 20th century. Home to original handmade jewelry, many silver jewels are also produced in cities such as Goulimine, Agadir, Essaouira, Tiznit or Taroudant. In gold or silver, they are made by craftsmen and sold in the souks of the old medinas.
Morocco is also a country of craftsmanship. Carpets in Ouarzazate, Leather in Marrakech, and clay in Safi, Fez or Zagora. Traditional craftmanship and design are one of the deep-rooted cultural heritage. Various and multiple materials are finely worked by hand using machines and traditional tools, to make decorative daily objects. From table art, furniture, to jewellery and clothing. From slippers, to lounge articles discover a range of charmful creations, and aesthetic innovations.
Rabat, Fez and Tetouan, offer you a wide range of Moroccan handicrafts including a variety of rugs and carpets for a different types of use. Depending on the region, rugs often tell stories through their patterns and mixed colours. Decorate the floors, seating covers, bed covers or blankets, For a urban use or rural use, these rugs are traditionally handmade mostly by women using the typical knotting techniques steming from Amazigh culture.
In Rabat, the potteries illustrate the interweaving of Amazigh and Andalusian culture. Ceramics are also in common use. The shapes and colours used vary from region to region: blue patterns in Fez, yellows in Safi and greens in Meknes. Go to Safi to discover unique, multicoloured pottery. In Azemmour, women artisans have their own structure. A visit to the potters’ complex, the Oulja in Salé is a must.
Magnificent woven objects made of wicker and raffia and palm tree can spot anywhere in Fez, Marrakech or Salé. The marquetry which are decorations in typical wooden plates. In Essaouira, you’ll be able to buy items made of Thuya, a precious wood from the Atlas Mountains. For centuries, wood decoration has been an artisanal Moroccan speciality which has wona place in the world of decoration.
In Marrakech, Fez or Safi, you come across icons of Moroccan wrought iron work. These fascinating objects made the reputation of Moroccan designers. Copperware are in common use in Fez, Marrakech and Tetouan: frames, pots, knockers, lamps and many other objects are finely worked on copper, silver or brass. Candelabras, lanterns, mirrors or lampshades will perfectly fit into your interiors.
The old medinas of Morocco, especially the medina of Fez brim with leather objects in its souks. Originating from ancient tanneries that looke like a palette of watercolours, the tanneries of Fez is where the skins of cows, goats and goats are processed for use in leather goods. Coats, shoes, bags and shoes… these are true icons of traditional craftsmanship.
Moroccan architecture reflects Morocco’s diverse geography and long history, marked by successive waves of settlers through both migration and military conquest. This architectural heritage includes ancient Roman sites, historic Islamic architecture, local vernacular architecture, 20th-century French colonial architecture, and modern architecture.
Much of Morocco’s traditional architecture is marked by the style that developed during the Islamic period, from the 7th century onward. This architecture was part of a wider tradition of “Moorish” or western Islamic architecture, which characterized both the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and al-Andalus (Muslim Spain and Portugal). It blended influences from Amazigh (Berber) culture in North Africa, pre-Islamic Spain (Roman, Byzantine, and Visigothic), and contemporary artistic currents in the Islamic Middle East to elaborate a unique style over centuries with recognizable features such as the horseshoe arch, riad gardens, and elaborate geometric and arabesque motifs in wood, carved stucco, and zellij tilework.
The magical Medina is on of the traditional Moroccan culture embedded in people’s daily life. Typically walled, the traditional Medina invites you to explore its deepest treasures while meandering its narrow streets. Artisan shops, fountains, mosques …Hundreds of people live and work inside of its ochre walls, passing their know-how on to other generations.
In Fez, Tetouan, Essaouira and Marrakech, these car-free and most best conserved historic towns have quickly become World Heritage. Fez El-Bali, the ancient city with a disctinct history, is a medina bubbling with bright colors, architecture and traditional craftsmanship. With its arabesque style and its historical drawings, Fez tells you the story of the early Moroccan dynasties footprints. Founded by the Idrissides, this medina is home not only to numerous palaces, but also to the oldest university in the world, Al-Quaraouiyine.
With a shape of a typical Kasbah, the medina of Tetouan, formerly called Titawin, has embraced Arab and Spanish while keeping the core aspects of its heritage and culture. Its intertwined alleyways hums to the rhythm of the exogenous Spanish traditions that have taken place. Let yourself dive into a sea air mixed with the songs of the birds, and taste the charm of its treasures as well as the particular selling atmosphere in its souks. The old medina also offers its visitors an ethnographic museum and an archaeological museum, which protect the most precious treasures of the city.
The World heritage medina of Marrakech, is the most historic and most visited district of the city. Beautifully surrounded by walls, forming several gateways, it is the beating heart of the “ochre” city. Not far from the entry, the charming Koutoubia mosque built under Almoravid dynasty’s reign, is located in the southwest medina of Marrakesh near the so called Jemaa el-Fna. Surrounded by gardens, this emblematic figure served as a model for the La Giralda mosque in Seville. Stroll in its traditional quarters, you’ll find bazaars, traditional souks, museums, Riads, and café terraces.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage since 2001, Essaouira is a splendid city with historical streets and houses. Also known as the “Mogador”, this mid-18th century fortified city is perfectly sealed and enclosed by a Vauban-style wall, with a kasbah that cannot be overlooked. A fresh breath with the Atlantic Breeze, and the beautiful sights of the city, offers its visitors a comfortable pace in its narrow streets, its romantic ramparts, its cultural wealth and its numerous art galleries. Go exploring the beautiful landscape with Portuguese drawings on the buildings, and taste the charm of the magnificent sights of La Skala. Don’t forget to visit the port and the El Mellah district to immerse yourself in the history of this coastal city.
Medina of Rabat shower with its charm. Embeded in the hustle and bustle of a modern city, its cultural aspect emerges from its narrow streets, fortified walls, Kasbah and souks. A culture that covers all the architectural details, the daily lives of the inhabitants and the arts and crafts. Soak up in the history of the Kasbah of the Oudayas, city of the Andalusians expelled from Spain by Philip III, with its bluish streets similar to those of Chefchaouen. Also visit its Souika street and its Souk Sebbate for a total immersion in traditional craftsmanship with the scent of leather. The rue des Consuls avenue shows a different setting: a marvelous painting of multicoloured carpets that symbolizes the city’s wealth of craftsmanship.
Morocco has many beautiful gardens, including the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech and the Andalusian Garden in the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat. The richness of Morocco is also in its fauna and flora diversity, amongst which are the stunning gardens. Morocc is filled with hundred of stunning gardens that take you on a journey to the past. As you stroll the gardens you’ll find peace and serenity in these magical places.
The exotic gardens of Bouknadel, peacefulness, bird songs, floral species, everything comes together to re-create a paradisiacal garden, where the rarest floral species are enchanted by the touch of the small rays of sunshine. Designed by Marcel François, several brightly coloured gardens traces the aspects of jungles and exotic forests, cracked by streams of water and arranged in several labyrinth-like alleys. A garden, an exotic journey that pulls you away from present moment, leaving you with the vegetation and the scenery.
Jnan sbil Gardens are the lungs of the city of Fez and the green capital of this imperial city. The green parks symbolize Morocco’s history and ancient architecture; it was during the time of Prince Moulay Abdellah that this botanical garden was built to serve as a public park. The garden is divided into several spaces: each space takes you into its own universe, there are 7 hectares of space where you can walk, stroll and rest amidst century-old trees of all kinds and fountains that give a breath of fresh air to the place.
The Majorelle Garden is a small peaceful land, located inside of the ochre city. A green and colourful scenery and lush vegetation rise in all shapes and forms around the Majorelle blue ornaments. The Majorelle garden of Marrakech is a masterpiece that highlights the Amazigh culture and modern art. Since its opening and thanks to the inspiration of Jacques Majorelle, the garden has been hosting several plants from different continents: bamboos, palms, cacti, flowering pots and plants.
Morocco is undoubtedly been able to preserve its traditions and make its cultural heritage prosper through generations, using them as levers for development. In the mid to late 20th century, architects such as Elie Azagury, Jean-François Zevaco, Abdeslam Faraoui, Patrice de Mazières, and Mourad Ben Embarek marked the architecture of Casablanca and other parts of Morocco with significant works of modernist and brutalist architecture.
In Marrakech, the Medina and its magnetic souks shower you with its traditionnal side, while Guéliz and Hivernage offer the most modern facilities and infrastructure. Leaving the old medina where the history of Marrakech takes hold of all the architectural details, you’ll discover modern districts. Grand boulevards, European-style buildings in ochre color charm its visitors. In a notable contrast with the old medina, the districts of Gueliz and the Hivernage give the city another level of fascination: a more modern, lively and revolutionary aspect.
Gueliz, which is the beating heart of the city, is the business district. Walk along its boulevards, a Western-style setting: the headquarters of banks and companies. The district is also home to the Marrakech train station, the Royal Theatre and the “Palais des Congrès”. A similar atmosphere reigns in the Hivernage district, with less economic activity. Far from the hustle and bustle of Gueliz, the Hivernage is quieter and more residential. Numerous prestigious hotels have taken up residence there.
Moroccan literature is the literature produced by people who lived in or were culturally connected to Morocco and the historical states that have existed partially or entirely within the geographical area that is now Morocco. Most of what is known as Moroccan literature was created since the arrival of Islam in the 8th century. Moroccan literature was historically and mainly written in Arabic.
Moroccan music is characterized by its great diversity from one region to another. It includes Arabic music genres, such as chaâbi and aita in the Atlantic plains (Doukkala-Abda, Chaouia-Ouardigha, Rehamna), melhoun in the cities associated with al-Andalus (Meknes, Fes, Salé, Tetouan, Oujda…), and Hassani in the Moroccan Sahara. There is also Berber music such as the Rif reggada, the ahidus of the Middle Atlas and the Souss ahwash. In the South there is also deqqa Marrakshia and gnawa. In addition, young people synthesize the Moroccan spirit with influences from around the world (blues, rock, metal, reggae, Moroccan rap, etc.).
The decorative arts have a long and important history in Morocco. One of the traditional elements of artistic expression in Morocco is Maghrebi-Andalusian art and architecture. Carved plaster Arabesques, zellige tilework, carved wood, and other expressions of Islamic geometric patterns are typical features of this style. Maghrebi Arabic script is an important feature of the history of visual art in Morocco. Contemporary art in Morocco is still developing. with considerable potential for growth.
Discover a land of art and history, heritage seamlessly blend to form a rich and varied culture preserved by museums and art galleries. Several Moroccan cities brim with with treasures. Enough to fuel up your imagination.
In Rabat, many institutes are celebrating, as in many Moroccan cities, tradition rituels and new creations. At the Mohammed VI Museum, discover artefacts of modern artists such as those of Giacometti, exhibited in 2016. The Museum of History and Civilization reveals the richness of Morocco’s long-lasting history, from prehistoric times to the Islamic era. There is a guide through the archaeological discoveries of Volubilis, Thamusida and Banassa. The remains of the Merinids are spread all over the city of Salé, the Rabat sister city, amongst which the famous Merinid Médersa. It’s both an architectural and historical museum, which symbolizes two fundamental pillars of the culture of this dynasty: architecture and the learning of Islam and science.
In Marrakech, the Bahia Palace is a living brochure of Moroccan Islamic architecture. A masterpiece that combines bright colours, the art of zellige and marble, lush gardens and appealing stories. In the Amazigh museum, the former workshop of Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent located inside the walls of the Majorelle garden, where emblatic Amazigh artefacts are on display: ornaments, jewelry, costumes and ceremonial utensils. The Yves Saint Laurent Museum is the cultural capital of the Ochre city and pays tribute to the famous couturier who revolutionized the world of fashion. It is an absolute heritage of Yves Saint Laurent as his sketches, creations and photos showcase.
In Meknes, the ethnographic museum of Meknes is a perfect showcase of the cultural richness of the city. Unlock the mysteries of traditional arts and crafts: from carpets, costumes, to pottery and decorative objects. At the Dar Jamaï Palace, an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts from Meknes takes you on a journey exploring one of the cultural aspects of the imperial city of Meknes. Take time inside the museum and contemplate the outstanding architecture inside. Taking its name from the Great Ismaili Wall, the Borj Bel Kari Museum is a living story of Rif and Pre-Rif pottery. The pottery collection displayed takes you to a trip from the prehistoric to the Islamic era.
Batha Museum is a museum of arts and crafts that showcases the traditional crafts of Fez and its region. Located inside the Batha palace, you’ll find precious objects, blue ceramics, carpets, wooden decorations and costumes. While in Safi, the capital of pottery and ceramics, is home to the National Museum of Ceramics, which offers a rich collection of pottery and ceramics objects from across the country. These ethnographic and archaeological handicrafts come from several Moroccan museums and are intended for donations.
Land of culture, civilization and authenticity, the charm of Morocco do not only attract tourists. Many production companies flock to the country being attracted by the diversity of the landscapes and the ambient lighting ideal for the filming. Morocco’s geographic position and unique landscapes make it an attractive investment destination to the biggest players in the film industry.
Series, films and blockbusters are regularly shot in Morocco. For over a century, Morocco has been one of the world’s major film-shooting site. The city of Ouarzazate (nicknamed “Ouarzawood”) sits at the doorstep of the Sahara and its film studios have become one of the favorite destinations of many film Directors such as Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese and Paul Greengrass.
Inception (2010), Gladiator (2000), Babel (2006), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1995)… This is just a short selection of the films shot in Morocco. Martin Scorcese used the biblical settings of Morocco for his film The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Morocco’s landscapes were also a great asset to replicate ancient Rome in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) and Egypt in Alain Chabat’s Mission Cléopatre (2002). Kasbahs and desert landscapes were used to reproduce the imaginary kingdom of Westeros in the Game of Thrones series and will also be used for the new House of Dragon series, whose events take place 300 years before those of Game of Thrones.
As you enter the Studio CLA in Ouarzazate, you’ll instantly dive into the sets that have been used in the making of many films. Outside the site, you’ll witness a geuine reconstruction of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. If you’re staying in Ouarzazate, the Studio is a place you can’t afford to miss. As you leave Ouarzazate heading to Marrakech, the Atlas Studio offers a view that covers several sets from several films: Gladiator, Kundun, Asterix mission Cleopatra, Kingdom of Heaven, Ben-Hur…
The Marrakech international film festival is one of the most beautiful cinematographic and cultural events. It welcomes and pays tribute to personalities and actors who have succeeded in promoting cinema all over the world. Created in 2001 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the Marrakech International Film Festival is a real gathering as it offers uncensored films, masterclasses, tributes, but also the best of Moroccan cinema. Special attention is given to young talents, through the “Cinécoles” competition which rewards the best short films made by students.
Morocco’s culinary heritage embraces the deep-rooted traditions and cultural variety of the country. Couscous, Tajine, Pastilla, Mrouzia, and R’fissa, are some of the emblematic dishes of the country that you can’t resist. Moroccan cuisine is typically a mix of Mediterranean, Arabic, Andalusian and Berber cuisine. It is highly influenced by its interactions and exchanges with other cultures which shows how multicultural Morocco is. The spices most usually used are cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, coriander, caraway, mint, ginger, paprika, turmeric and saffron.
Moroccan cuisine is generally a mix of Arab, Andalusi, Berber and Mediterranean cuisines with slight European and sub-Saharan influences. Berbers had food staples such as figs, olives and dates and prepared lamb and poultry dishes frequently. This has heavily influenced Moroccan cuisine as all of these are used in abundance. Morocco is known for dishes such as couscous, tajine, and pastilla. Moroccan cuisine uses many herbs, including cilantro, parsley, and mint; spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and saffron; and produce such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant. One of the defining features of Moroccan cuisine is the interplay between sweet and savory flavors, as exemplified by tfaya, a mix of caramelized onions, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins often served with meat.
Historically, couscous has been the staple of the Moroccan diet. On special occasions, more complex meals like the traditional Moroccan pastilla and some special pastries such as gazelle ankles and briwates are served for guests. Mint tea, called atay in Morocco, is commonly regarded as the national beverages. Coffee is also universally enjoyed from espresso to cappuccinos.
The local moroccan products are of an incomparable richness: spices such as saffron, also called “red gold”, olive oil, honey and orange blossom water, not forgetting the exquisite taste of argan oil. The hammam ritual uses henna, rose water, black soap and ghassoul. Morocco makes the most of its generous nature. Skilled craftsmen use inherited know-how to shape beautiful products.
Argan oil, also know as “Liquid gold”, “precious oil” or even “gift of God”, extracted from the argan tree, this oil that originates from the South include numerous cosmetic and therapeutic virtues. Saffron is a spice with a red colour has a very imposing scent, its use is no longer limited to cooking. For years, its therapeutic and medicinal virtues have been proven by several research and clinical studies. The Prickly Pear with an exquisite taste is very common in the South-West of Morocco and is health freindly.
In the Dades Valley, between Kelaa M’gouna and Boulmane Dades, there are small villages that live mainly from the cultivation of roses. Also known as the valley of roses, this place with its captivating scents bears well its name. Rose water, which is the star of the Moussem of roses and an icon of traditional Moroccan cosmetics. Orange blossom water is highly in-demand in cooking and cosmetology. Grown and distilled in the Khemisset region, orange blossom water or Neroli flower water can be used to flavour cakes.
Celebrations and Festivals
Morocco’ official religion is Islam. The rhythm of life for Moroccans is dictated by religious celebrations throughout the year, such as Ramadan and Eid Al Adha. During these celebrations, most of them being public holidays, Moroccans focus on praying and spending time with their family. Several Moroccan events and celebrations take place in all Moroccan cities. These cultural and religious events that perfectly symbolize Moroccan traditions, are held during the famous Moussems and festivals.
Taburida, or mawsam or fantasia, is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship in the Maghreb performed during cultural festivals and for Maghrebi wedding celebrations. There are also several annual festivals that take place in Morocco, such as the Betrothal Festival in Imilshil, the rose festival in Qalaat Megouna, or the saffron festival in Taliween.Don’t miss the Tan-Tan festival, which is particularly renowned and has been listed as part of the cultural and intangible heritage of humanity since 2008, the Cherry Festival in Sefrou, the Moussem of Roses in Kalâat M’gouna or the Gnaoua festival in Essaouira.
Gnaoua music takes us on a spiritual but also cultural journey. Being classified by UNESCO as World heritage since 2019, Gnawa music tells the story of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa. This ritual song with traditional music and dancing let you just go with the flow. The artists put on colourful costumes and sing to the beat of “Lguembri” and “Qraqeb”, which are the two musical instruments of the Gnaouas.