There are very many features that make Morocco so strikingly different and entrancing. Visitors detect something of the colour and variety of India, the wild beauty of waterfalls, the mingling of races with ancient histories, a California-like blue-sky climate which, in season allows you to ski in the High Atlas and three hours later, bask on the white dune beaches or surf in the sparkling Atlantic.
More than a touch of Indiana Jones adventure can be experienced in our grand, imperial cities, the sophistication and bustle of a great city like Casablanca or the beauty of the turreted coast towns of the old Portuguese traders and explorers, defending their routes to the East Indies whose canons bearing the arms of their Kings remain as fresh as the day they were abandoned.
At such a town, El Jadida, a shopkeeper making improvements found that below was a dramatic Portuguese vaulted cistern and fencing academy undetected for centuries. On reflection, I believe that elusive quality making Morocco so vital and so different is the survival in Africa of the glittering old Moorish civilisation that created a tolerant and scientific empire in Spain that lasted there 800 years and influenced the Renaissance in all of Europe.
Even today, you can still encounter cuisines and linguistic survivals of Old Castile and Andalucía, especially in the green Rif Mountain areas.
Learning was valued in Morocco which in Fez still runs the world’s oldest university. Even the feared ocean-roving corsairs operating out of the city of Sale at one point declared its own republic and schooled its recruits at an academy of piracy!
The vivid colours of sky, mountain, valley and seas drew famed artists like Delacroix and Matisse and a host of international writers who decided to stay in the country. In 1903 the remarkable American author, Edith Wharton, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 19th century New York society, “The Age of Innocence”, recently made into a leading film, visited Morocco and was so entranced she stayed three years and produced the first ever book on Moroccan cuisine. American author, Paul Bowles, who was a friend, arrived, wrote about Morocco and stayed the rest of his life. Jimi Hendrix succumbed to the charms of the country and lived in the home of a Moroccan family. Tangier, often portrayed as the city of wartime international intrigue boasts the attractive El Minzah Hotel constructed in 1930 by Scots aristocrat, Lord Bute.
A haven of peace and style, it has a guest list that resembles a roll of honour of the 20th century’s glitterati including, film star, Errol Flynn, tycoon, Aristotle Onassis,
Sir Winston Churchill, underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, and many others.
I trust you will be as impressed as they were and, from experience, I assure that you will find a warm welcome wherever you go and discover that this is truly a land of beauty, thrills, colour and wonder.
My very best wishes,