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The Highlights of Morocco Imperial Cities

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Travelers visiting Morocco are enchanted by the varied architecture, the medinas on cobbled streets, the dazzling sands of the Sahara, and the stunning snow-capped Atlas Mountains whilst staying in brilliant riads (traditional homes sometimes converted to hotels that have unique courtyards that conveniently ventilate the structure) on lush gardens in a labyrinth of culture, history and beauty. Surely Westerners have heard of the film Casablanca, the romantic 1942 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. It takes place in the enticing city in northwest Morocco. What some of us do not know is Morocco has four “Imperial Cities – each having been capital at least once and several times for a couple. They are, in no particular order: Fes (Fez), Marrakech, Rabat and Meknes. Interestingly, Casablanca isn’t necessarily the most captivating city to visit. To the north of Casablanca, and also on the shores of the Atlantic, is the current capital of Rabat.

Rabat (meaning “fortified place” showcasing its prominent military importance) has a lesser population than Casablanca – slightly over one million inhabitants. It has a heavy French influence and houses the King and embassies. Its main languages are Arabic and French. Most escorted group tours go to the abandoned mosque (the Almohad ruler who started it died) with the incomplete Hassan Tower which is about half the intended size –approx 140 ft. Also commonly visited are the Royal residence (Dar-al-Makhzen), Pietri Square, the Bouregreg Marina, the Kasbah of the Udayas, the Rabat Archaeological Museum and the Riad district. Stop at a zoo (Zoo de Rabat), the gorgeous Andalusian Gardens or perhaps Les Jardins Exotiques de Bouknadel, the Mausoleum of Mohammad V, the Museum Mohamed VI of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the must-visit Chellah, an ancient Roman ruin. The weather and food are blissfully Mediterranean, therefore beach activities and lounging are constant go-tos.

Meknes, partially surrounded by ancient walls encompassing exquisite gates (such as Bab Mansour) considered some of the best-preserved of the Islamic world, was capital from 1672-1727. It is about 80 miles inland from Rabat and is a bustling, though less populated and noticed, city that some feel is easier to navigate. Intended by its creator, Moulay Ismail, to rival Versailles, a lot of it (including the walls) was leveled by an earthquake in 1755. The prices here may be more reasonable and the people more friendly. Some noteworthy sights are the Bou Inania Medersa, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Dar Al-Makhzen, Jamai Palace (inside is the Museum of Moroccan Arts) and the El Hedim Square (Place El Hadim) providing entertainment such as snake-charmers, story-tellers, horse riding and medicine men. Nearby are souks and famous confectionary merchants. Fortifications were key to Ismail so there is an impressive stable (for 12,000 horses!) and granary. Maybe stroll through Moulay Idris if you have a good sense of direction. Take a guided tour through the rolling hills to the nearby amazing Roman ruins of Volubilis, perhaps the best preserved ruins in northern Africa.

Fez is considered the heart of Morocco – at least in a religious or intellectual sense (and it is more inland than coastal, like Marrakech). It also has a population of just over a million. See the medinas of old Fez (Fes el-Bali), the streets resplendent with an onslaught to the senses – narrow winding paths through food stands, silk and tapestry shops, brass and copper souks, mosques and bazaars and lots of people! Delight in bakers, butchers and spice vendors selling their delicacies. Along with the old Fes see the Chaouwara Tanneries, the Kairaouine Mosque and University (possibly the oldest university in the world), the Jewish Cemetery & Habarim Synagogue and the Medersa Bou Inania. The New Fez, Ville Nouvelle, was built by the French so it has the feel of a French provincial town. It has wide boulevards with delicious dining (cap the night off with some of the famous mint tea) and local entertainment.

Last of the Morocco Imperial Cities is Marrakech. It is dubbed the Red (or alternatively, Ochre) City because of red sandstone buildings built by Ali ibn Yusuf in 1122-1123. It is nestled about fifteen or so miles from the base of the Atlas Mountains, has a more semi-arid climate (compared to the coastal cities) and is replete with local markets (souks), gardens, monuments, palaces, food, fun and entertainment. Namely: Djemaa el Fna Square – the main entrance square that comes alive with vendors and performers that change throughout the day, the Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, Ben Youssef Madrasa and Almoravid Koubba, for a start. You can browse the medina for wares such as traditional Moroccan lanterns or slippers. And of course, see craftsmen at work, purchase Berber carpets and dine sumptuously. Don’t forget your mint tea!

The author of this article, Nil Aykut, is the Marketing Manager of Anatolia Travels. Anatolia Travels offer private and escorted tours to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai & Morocco. More information at

Morocco Tour Packages

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
13 Morocco Tour packages for every budget and taste by Anatolia tours and Travel


Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast of Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.
Our Greece Group and Private Tours that covers Santorini;

New Morocco Private Tour

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

8 day Morocco tour covers all Imperial cities and accommodation at Authentic Riads. For more info
For all other Morocco Group and Private Tours visit

TripAdvisor Fined $600,000 for False Reviews

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Italy’s antitrust authority has fined the travel planning website TripAdvisor US$600,000 following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers’ association and a consumer protection agency.

The antitrust authority said in a statement that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine”. It has given TripAdvisor 90 days to present a remedy.

The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of “defamatory” reviews that have appeared on the site.

TripAdvisor said in a statement that it would appeal the findings and believed its processes, including a team to detect fraudsters as well as automated tools and algorithms, were “extremely effective in protecting consumers from the small minority of people who try to cheat our system”.

“We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good — both for consumers and the hospitality industry,” the company said.

A UK regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor must stop claiming that all the reviews on its site were written by independent travellers and therefore reliable.


Travel Info for Canadian Travelers

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Anatolia Tours and Travel added new pages for travelers joining Turkey tours from different Canadian cities.
Please click the city name you live in;

Turkey Tours from Toronto, ON

Turkey Tours from Vancouver, BC

Turkey Tours from Ottawa, ON

Turkey Tours from Victoria, BC

Turkey Tours from Montreal, QB

Turkey Tours from Calgary, AB

Turkey Tours from Edmonton, AB

Turkey Tours from Winnipeg, MB

Turkey Tours from Saskatoon , SK

Enchanting Turkey Tour 2014 – 2015

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Enchanting Turkey tour 2015 prices are published. This tour is a 14 day Turkey group tour departs on Wednesdays from Istanbul. For all our Turkey tours please visit:

New Small Group Tour for Turkey

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Classical Turkey Tour is a  10 days small group Turkey tour departing on Fridays and prices starting from $1250 per person. For more info please visit

Tripadvisor: Istanbul is the Top Destination for 2014

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

TripAdvisor unveils travelers’ top destinations for 2014 and Istanbul is on top of the list.  There are 25 other destinations on the list; Istanbul is  followed by Rome, London, Beijing, Prague, Marrakesh and Paris.  The largest city in Turkey has pulled off an impressive feat in the sixth edition of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Destinations 2014 report, moved up 11 places from last year and Paris lost its standing as the top travel destination this year.

Tripadvisor uses an  algorithm that goes through millions of reviews and takes into account the quantity and quality of ratings for hotels, attractions, restaurants and destinations around the world over a 12-month period.

Istanbul’s epic history, ancient architecture, rich culture, mouth watering cuisine and modern night life makes it a great destination for travelers all around the globe for all age groups. Yet Turkey has more to offer such as Cappadocia with its unique landscape, another unique UNESCO site Pamukkale, one of the best preserved ancient sites Ephesus and lots of charming small towns along the Mediterranean coast. Travelers can visit the major highlights  in approx. 7-8 days, however  it is also possible to stay in Istanbul and enjoy the vibrant culture of this beautiful city at your own pace.  Anatolia Travels offers 26 different Turkey Tour Packages ranging from 4 to 18 days,  accommodations ranging from tourist hotels to award winner boutique/cave hotels, several tour packages which can cater to variety of interests/budgets.

Best of Turkey Tour - Turkey Travel Packages

Anatolia Travels offers romantic Dubai package for Valentine’s Day

Monday, January 27th, 2014

A romantic moonlight swim at Burj Al Arab if you book a luxury Dubai tour

Romance is in the air at Burj Al Arab with the introduction of the Romantic Moonlight Swim – an exclusive spa experience designed to set guests’ hearts aflutter. Promising an evening of sheer luxury, the Romantic Moonlight Swim takes place in the serene environment of Burj Al Arab’s Talise Spa 150 metres into the sky.

The treatment commences with a soothing massage to relax and unwind. The next step leads the couple to their own infinity pool adorned with floating rose petals, with the glimmering moonlight and sweeping views of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf serving as the only backdrop. The experience would not be complete without bespoke Burj Al Arab’s beverages and personalised music to refresh the body as well as the soul. As a memento to keep the memories of the evening alive, guests are presented with a white-chequered Burj Al Arab bathrobe.

Burj Al Arab’s Romantic Moonlight Swim includes:
•Private infinity pool at 150 metres above Dubai
•55-minute couples massage
•Bespoke Burj Al Arab refreshments and personalised music
•Burj Al Arab signature white-chequered bathrobes

Source: Jumeirah.