Morocco is one of my favorite countries to visit (no surprises there!) and to be honest, there’s just so much about the country that people don’t know about. Having been there several times, I still constantly find myself amazed and learn something new each trip. If you’re thinking about somewhere new to explore for your next holiday, you should definitely consider Morocco. With its combination of delicious food, impressive architecture, amazing shopping, the Sahara Desert, and rugged mountain ranges, a trip to Morocco is for sure, something you want to add to your bucket list! To give you a quick insight about the country, here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Morocco (or at least, I didn’t!).
The Moroccan population is approximately 40% Berber.
As the Berbers are descendants of the first inhabitants of Morocco, there are approximately 13 million Berbers there. In fact, of all the cities in North Africa, Marrakech has the largest Berber population and is considered more Berber than Arab. That’s why the Kingdom of Morocco is also known as the Land of the Berbers.
Many people in Morocco don’t live in regular houses or apartments.
The traditional type of Moroccan housing is called a riad. Riad comes from the Arabic term for ‘garden’ and a traditional riad is usually built around a garden or courtyard. These riads are often two stories or higher. From the outside they look pretty normal but, on the inside, they can be very luxurious with some riads having on-site swimming pools and private hammams (steam baths) for their guests.
The mountains are calling
Before travelling there, I imagined Morocco as a place filled with sandy dunes. I’ve always thought of Morocco as a desert country for some strange reason. Instead, I was greeted with a view of mountains that seemed to go on forever. Specifically, the Atlas Mountain that starts at the central north and ends at the southwest of the country (approx. 1,350 kilometers!).
Medinas = Human Mazes
Many Moroccans don’t live in normal neighbourhoods but rather, human mazes. If you think certain European countries have very narrow alleys and resemble labyrinths, you clearly haven’t stepped foot in a medina. Think: alleys narrow enough just for one person with several meters of high walls all around you. It’s not an experience we would recommend for a claustrophobic person but certainly, an experience you shouldn’t miss out on in Morocco!
A souk is an open-air market that locals relied on for selling and buying essential items. Historically, these souks were thriving hubs for trade and commerce and travelling merchants would pass through about once a week or month to sell their goods. Amongst all, the souks of Marrakech are the largest you can find in Morocco. Being strategically located in the heart of the country, many traders came through Marrakech every day, bringing in goods from all over Morocco. Even though the souks now cater to modern tastes and especially the large crowds of tourists they attract, many traditional Moroccan items can still be found somewhere in the souks. Be it pottery, patisseries, jewellery, textiles, spices, carpets or even traditional Moroccan lamps which are absolutely beautiful, there is definitely lots of variety when it comes to shopping in a souk and we highly recommend this experience!
If all these hasn’t convinced you to take a trip to Morocco yet, I don’t know what will. But here’s one more: Moroccan people are hands-down the warmest and friendliest people I have ever met. They make you feel like family from day one, and they will always be happy to serve you a cup of mint tea or cook you a delicious couscous meal even if they barely know you. If you ever have the chance to visit, be prepared to be amazed and wowed by the hospitality, rich culture and imperial grandeur. You will definitely find it the trip of a lifetime.