19 Things Morocco is Known For

Morocco is a unique country in North Africa, with the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea as its border. It is one of the top travel destinations in Africa.

While Morocco is known for impressive geographic diversity and culture, there are so many more positive things the country is famous for that continue to attract visitors and tourists from all over the world. 

Morocco is famous for dazzling and exotic things, which are enough to guarantee a visit to the Mystical Northern African country would be an unforgettable experience.

It is known for its diverse geography, traditional-filled culture, and famous majestic cities. In addition, Morocco boasts a complex history and rich culture, giving you a feeling of Middle Eastern adventure.

The 19 Things Morocco is Known For (Guide)

Here are some of the best things Morocco is famous for:

1. Geographic Diversity

Morocco is located in the northwest corner of Africa and is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Algeria and Western Sahara are the land borders to the south and east. Morocco is about the same size as California.

The high Atlas Mountains separate the mild coastline from the harsh Sahara. Rainfall is unpredictable and is not enough to supply all the water needed for the people.

The impressive geographic diversity of Morocco makes it a unique country suited to anyone’s recreational tastes. Tourists and natives can swim along the coastline, ride camels in the deserts, backpack and mountain bike the towering mountain ranges, or even ski at a Moroccan mountain resort!

Morocco Geographic Diversity

The diversity in the country is not simply drawn by racial or religious lines, however. One will find a startling contrast between the Sunni Arabs living in the Agdal area of downtown Rabat and the Sunni Arabs living in the vast rural stretches of the country.

Even in Agdal, Rabat, one can find Moroccan women wearing blue jeans and tank tops walking next to women in black abayas, complete with a niqab and black gloves.

Even within racial and religious subgroups, one will find diversity and contrasting ideas, not just among those of Arab heritage and culture in Morocco but also among the Amazigh, a people of varied languages, customs, and experiences. Their incremental inclusion into Moroccan society is a progressive step to embracing all the diversity of Morocco.

2. Moroccan Traditional Clothing

Clothing is a major characteristic of any culture. It is today considered a dominant figure that helps attract foreigners’ attention and interest to the culture attached, as globalization has helped cultures from different parts of the world to come together.

Some people view clothes as mere tools for covering the body and protecting it from external elements. 

However, throughout history, it has been proven that clothing transcends this external function and goes deeper to determine the character of the person putting it on.

This allows one to tell others who he is, where he comes from, and which culture he belongs to. Different cultures have evolved various ways of creating clothes out of multiple raw materials, and with time these clothes have become a major part of them and become the way that they show their unique lifestyle.

Although Morocco is an ancient country that goes back in time to thousands of years, Moroccans still wear to this day the traditional clothing of their ancestors with very little change or influence from Western fashion. This long history of the country.

Moroccan Traditional Clothing

In addition to the numerous events that took place in it, affected, directly and indirectly, the clothing style of the Moroccan people. 

An important example of that would be the Moroccan Caftan, known worldwide today as one of the most famous traditional Moroccan dresses. Although the Ottoman Empire had never set foot in Morocco, Moroccan designers adopted this dress and added their special touch.

The Muslims and Jews of Andalusia introduced it to Morocco when they came to take refuge from Spanish prosecution, and it was then a garment reserved for royalty only. The Caftan is still present in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, and today, it is worn by women from all social classes in Morocco. The word kaftan indicates a one-piece dress that can be worn on both casual and formal occasions.

Generally, traditional clothing for women and men in Morocco consists mostly of long robes with hoods, traditional shoes, and leather bags. These magnificent dresses have been worn since ancient Moroccan history and are still used today.

Some of these garments, however, came to be because of necessity, considering the harsh weather in many parts of the kingdom. For instance, the first Djellabas in Morocco were woven from thick wool and worn in the High and Middle Atlas region during the winter months.

3. Moroccan Drinks (Mint Tea)

Although it does not produce its tea, the North African country of Morocco is one of the largest consumers and, therefore, importers of tea worldwide.

Even more so, there is a variety of tea, Moroccan Mint Tea (or Maghrebi mint tea), that has become almost symbolic of hospitality in Morocco and has spread throughout various regions in the Arab world and the Middle East. 

Moroccan Drinks - Mint Tea

Generally, Moroccan mint tea, as the name suggests, is prepared with fresh mint leaves, green gunpowder tea, and sugar. It is believed that the gunpowder tea out of which it is made, which is of Chinese origin, first made its way to Northern Africa through British merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As the Crimean War forced ports in the Baltic region to close, vast quantities of gunpowder green tea were shipped to Morocco instead.

The locals took to it almost immediately, adding ingredients like fresh mint (which grows abundantly in the region) and sugar to adapt it to their tastes. Furthermore, a scarcity of coffee in Morocco at the time exacerbated the popularity of mint tea. 

Ever since tea consumption has played an important role in Moroccan life and is often associated with hospitality and prestige. Mint tea is drunk throughout the day and is offered at most, if not all, social engagements.

Its preparation ranges from a more modern, somewhat informal method to a more traditional Moroccan tea-drinking ceremony. 

4. Moroccan Food

For people who travel for food, few destinations stir the imagination quite like Morocco. It’s home to the colorful tagine and a dizzying number of exotic spices and seasonings. When you think of Moroccan food, you think of flavor. It’s an assault on the senses in the best ways possible.

From a tourism standpoint, Morocco needs little introduction. Year after year, it’s consistently one of the most visited countries in Africa. There are many reasons to visit Morocco, but one of the best has to be the food.

Several previous studies have classified Moroccan cuisine among the most famous worldwide, as it always occupies advanced positions alongside French and Italian cuisines.

Moroccan Food

The following are some popular dishes/food in Morocco:

  1. Tagine: It is nearly impossible to stay in Morocco without hearing the locals talking about Tagine. This word, however, has two meanings in Morocco. First, it can refer to a traditional, artisanal baking and serving dish. It is nearly impossible to stay in Morocco without hearing the locals talking about Tagine. This word, however, has two meanings in Morocco. First, it can refer to a traditional, artisanal baking and serving dish.
  2. Couscous is a popular traditional Moroccan dish, which is almost unique to Friday in Morocco, as most Moroccan households prepare it during this ‘sacred’ day of the week. Couscous is present on all occasions in Morocco, be them marriages, funerals, and sacred feasts.
  3. Tangia: We also have Tangia, which is always associated with Marrakech, Morocco. It is the most famous dish that the citizens of the city of Marrakech serve their guests as a distinctive dish with its meat and spices.
  4. Moroccan soup: Moroccans have the most famous soup throughout the year and during the sacred month of Ramadan to break the fast every day. Harira is among the complete dishes in the Moroccan diet. It contains many ingredients, such as pastries, herbs, and tomatoes.
  5. Rfisa: is a family dish par excellence, prepared at family reunions and religious occasions, or what Morocco calls “Zarda.” This dish is prepared mostly on the occasion of childbirth, as it is prepared for women who just gave birth because it contains healthy, beneficial, and milk-producing ingredients.

5. Moroccan Spices

Moroccan food is an amazing mélange of cuisines from the mid-eastern world. With Mediterranean African, Jewish, Arabian, French, and Moorish influences to name just a few, the spices and herbs used in Moroccan food are as diverse as the cultures mingling together at the crossroads of Morocco.

Today, Moroccan food has piqued the interest of the western world. Spice mixes from Morocco blend extremely well with several Western meat and vegetable dishes, enriching them into savory, delectable fusion dishes. Moroccan seasoning recipes are innumerable, as the spices used can vary with the chef’s tastes and preferences and the dish being prepared.

The spice mix adds sweet, zesty, and spicy flavors to sauces, salads, and main dishes.

A few famous traditional dishes utilizing the Moroccan spice mix are:

  • Couscous with Vegetables: prepared with lamb or chicken, or beef stewed together with the couscous. Usually, a simpler spice mix consisting of earthy, nutty cumin and coriander and the fruity and slightly bitter flavor of sweet paprika and sometimes cayenne pepper is used. The flavors of sweet paprika and cayenne pepper differ only in their heat and are a good combination to induce a well-balanced spicy savor.
  • Bastilla: It is a complex and elaborately prepared sweet and savory pie. Elements of the Moroccan seasoning recipe are distributed from the pastry shell, meaty stuffing, and sweet topping. Cinnamon forms a large proportion of this spice mix.
  • Tagines: The Kefta or lamb meatball tagine is one of the most popular tagines utilizing earthy cumin and coriander, spicy ginger and lemony galangal, allspice, peppers for heat, and the punchy-warm-bittersweet caraway. It is a well-rounded dish to be shared with friends and family with some Moroccan bread.
Moroccan Spices

The Western Uses of Moroccan Seasoning:

The western world has been obsessed with Mid-eastern food for decades now. Moroccan seasoning spices go hand in hand with spice mixes from other parts of the world.

Some of the fusion western recipes that adopt Moroccan seasoning are:

  • Burgers: the all-star lamb or hamburger can be prepared by flavoring the patties with a spice mix. Additional use of thyme, parsley, mustard powder, mace, and anise in the spice mix adds that extra zing to the patty, not to mention lending a familiar yet exotic taste to the dish.
  • Stir fries: the multi-faceted dish can be assembled using just about anything in a kitchen, be it vegetables, meats, or seafood; they taste terrific with just a hint of Moroccan seasoning. Stir-fried chicken with beans and potatoes flavored with aromatic sweet and spicy peppers, fennel, cumin, coriander, turmeric, saffron, ginger, and cinnamon, makes the dish something special indeed.
  • Salads: surprisingly, Moroccan seasoning pairs well even with salads, particularly seafood-based salads such as tuna salad. Its earthy and zesty tones make the dish much more delicious and healthier than a salad.

The perfect balance of sweet and savory that’s found in the Moroccan seasoning mix undoubtedly appeals to western and eastern tastes. With increasing interest across the globe in trying new foods, herbs, and spices, it’s no wonder that the Moroccan seasoning mix is something of a worldwide sensation.

6. Moroccan Artisanat

Rich in Amazigh, European and Arab influences, Moroccan arts and crafts keep age-old traditions alive, modernizing them with the times. Designs combine Arabic calligraphy, foliage, and geometrical patterns with Amazigh (Berber) stylized birds, animals, triangles, and squares.

These crafts are a perfect marriage of local resources like stone, wood, minerals, leather, and clay with imported materials like marble and silk.

The artisans of Morocco make unique arts and crafts by utilizing techniques passed down from generation to generation for centuries. These unbroken knowledge transfer chains can be attributed to specialist guilds, where a master artisan or mâalem trains apprentices for years.

Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Safi, Casablanca, and Rabat have historically been artisan centers, with master craftsmen and women gravitating there due to their bustling marketplaces.

Moroccan Artisanat

Below is the range of charmful creations and aesthetic innovations by Moroccan Artisans:

  • Carpets: rich in vibrancy and color, Moroccan carpets are handwoven to create intricate designs. The country is world-renowned for its carpets and tapestries, with most weavers hailing from Rabat or Fez. Each region has a distinctive style, with the patterns and colors telling different stories.
  • Textiles: Morocco’s indigenous people use woolen yarn to weave cloaks, bedding, cushion covers, and clothing. They traditionally used non-dyed white, black, or brown yarn but soon started dyeing it. By the 16th century, Fez emerged as Morocco’s principal city for weaving wool and silk for local and international markets. The master artisans of the city also use gold and silver thread to embroider elaborate floral and foliage designs on silk, velvet, and leather. This is then used for ceremonial and wedding garments, home furnishings, and horse trappings.
  • Leatherwork: Moroccan leather is famous around the world for its softness, especially that originating from Fez and Marrakech. Traditionally, leather is made from goatskin in Morocco, but artisans also use the hides of cows, camels, and sheep. The process of making leather is an art in itself: the hide is soaked in two different mixtures, then kneaded to soften it, then placed in dyeing pits filled with indigo, henna, cedarwood, mint, saffron, or natural vegetable dyes. The final step is drying it under the sun. You will find artisanal belts, handbags, footwear, gloves, jackets, cushions, poufs, and book covers during your trip.
  • Ceramic Pottery: Morocco is known for its unique designs, patterns, and geometric shapes painted on ceramic pottery and cookware made from local clay. Most of the country’s pottery is produced in Safi, where potters introduced polychrome decoration to ceramics.
  • Calligraphy: Morocco’s most esteemed visual art form has been perfected by its artisans for the last thousand years. Three main kinds of calligraphy are practiced: square Kufic with angular letters, foliate Kufic in which the letters bloom, and knotted Kufic in which they intertwine. Contemporary artisans have combined the elegant ancient scripts with a pseudo-graffiti process to create a new style.

7. Moroccan Cosmetics

Moroccan women respect and adhere to ancestral beauty traditions using only natural products and treatments. Throughout the ages, they have relied on natural herbs, oils, and extracts known for their excellent health and beauty properties.

The Amazigh people, indigenous to Morocco, were the first to utilize various plants and herbal mixtures as beauty remedies and cosmetics. Later the Arabs arrived, bringing their own Middle Eastern beauty traditions through ancient trade routes.

Moroccan Cosmetics

Morocco is home to many trees and plants providing essential oils, water, and other mixtures for enhancing beauty. Among them are the olive tree, almonds, bitter oranges, roses, lavender, prickly pear, and argan tree.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the argan tree. Argan oil is well known for its anti-aging properties and as a skin and hair treatment and is widely used and distributed throughout Morocco and now the rest of the world.

Also, we have Moroccan Natural Rose water for the face and skin. This is one of the essential beauty secrets used in North African and Middle-eastern countries for decades. The Moroccan native ingredient is used to treat the skin from acne and acne scars and prevent acne.

8. Animals Of Morocco

When travelers think about Morocco, thoughts of busy souks in Marrakech or picture-perfect riads often emerge. But little do tourists know that Morocco is also home to several great wildlife spots found deep.

Sadly, the Moroccan landscape is starting to succumb to deforestation and overgrazing livestock, which means several animals are now endangered. But despite this, the country is trying to reverse these issues to preserve what’s left for visitors.

Set deep within the High Atlas Mountains, Paradise Valley is one of Morocco’s most beautiful areas. It’s a haven for nature lovers, allowing them to see exotic birds in their natural habitat and winding rivers, cliffs, gorges, cacti, and acre upon acre of palm trees.

The donkey is the most common means of locomotion to reach the market Issani`s souk is an authentic market at the doorstep of the desert. In this traditional souk, you can breathe magical air. Here, you will find animals, people, and chaos. Nothing is missing.

The souk is held 3 days a week Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, Sunday is the most interesting day, it is not a tourist market, but a place where locals buy or trade merchandise in a completely different way from the souks of the city. 

Animals Of Morocco

Chefchaouen, Morocco, has become famous on Instagram thanks to its overwhelming blue hue. While Chefchaouen (or just Chaouen, as it’s sometimes called) is famous for its blue walls, the city also has another unique characteristic. Cats!

Cats are an inherent part of Moroccan culture & everyday life, living harmoniously with the country’s people. The reason stems from Islamic beliefs, which have made them ubiquitous across the Muslim world. Cats are everywhere in Morocco — they love them and consider them godly animals. 

Also, Camels are of the major animals in Morocco; they have long been domesticated, and, as livestock, they provide food (milk and meat) and textiles (fiber and felt from hair). In Merzouga, Camels are working animals especially suited to their desert habitat and are a vital means of transport for passengers and cargo. 

9. Moroccan Architecture

There are many attractive and unusual buildings to admire all around Morocco, from sacred mosques, revered shrines, and opulent palaces, to ornate gates, traditional riads, and mountainous dwellings built from clay.

Morocco’s architecture displays influences from various cultures and periods. One element that makes many Moroccan buildings stand out is colorful tiles arranged into beautiful patterns, known as Plaster and zellige.

Zellige (sometimes called Zellij) is a form of Arab art that occupies an important place in Moroccan architecture. The attractive tiles are geometric tiles attached to the plaster floor to create surprisingly intricate patterns.

Moroccan Architecture

Today, Moroccan tiles decorate the walls of elegant hotels and houses, decorate hammams (hotel complexes), add sophistication to royal palaces and illuminate swimming pools and fountains.

10. Unique Historical Monuments

From the North to the South, Morocco is renowned for its breathtaking monuments and interwoven history and legends.

The country is perfectly preserved with fortified walls, medinas, minarets, monumental gates, or even ksar and kasbahs. It allows you to discover the architectural treasures of Morocco.

Aït Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s best-preserved examples of a ksar, a fortified Berber settlement made of clay. This is in part due to its popularity as a film location, and you may recognize spots from films like “Gladiator”, “Sodom and Gomorrah”, and “Lawrence of Arabia”

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, it’s becoming more and more like an open-air museum and increasingly popular with travelers who prefer to stay here instead of nearby Ouarzazate for its more relaxing atmosphere.

While it has fewer facilities, the opportunity to explore the area when it’s not full of day-trippers is worth taking advantage of.

Another is Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, built to celebrate the previous king’s 60th birthday. Sitting next to the water, part of the mosque overhangs the ocean. One of the largest mosques in the world, the mighty prayer hall can hold 25,000 worshippers. Unlike many of Morocco’s religious sites, public members can observe the lavish interiors as part of a tour.

Morocco Historical Monuments

When thinking of the oldest universities in the world, probably the first ones that come to most people’s minds are Oxford and Bologna, but according to UNESCO and the Guinness World Records, Al-Qarawiyyin University (also written as Al-Karaouine) is the “oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world.”

It was founded as a mosque by Fatima al-Fihri, an Arab woman in 859 who is believed to have used the money inherited from her father to build the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque.

The mosque building is a significant complex of historical Moroccan and Islamic architecture encompassing elements from many periods of Moroccan history. To this day, the university keeps its traditional ways of teaching students by sitting in a semi-circle, called halqa, around the sheik or the instructor.

With a name that means ‘brilliance,’ it’s no surprise that Marrakech’s dazzling El Bahia Palace is among the most exquisite buildings in Morocco. Constructed over 14 years, expert artisans were brought from all over the country to work on the palace. Built-in the late 1800s, the palace showcases the Alaouite designs that were popular then.

11. Welcoming People & Hospitality

Morocco’s exceptional multiculturalism is reflected in its people, including Berbers, Arabs, Andalusians, Muslims, and Jews. Like any other cosmopolitan location, each neighborhood features its unique customs, although there are many common ethnicities.

Moroccans are known for their hospitality, one of the common threads that bind them. 

Tourists to the country of spectacular sunsets will discover that the art of greeting visitors is an important aspect of local culture.

This hospitality, generally delivered with sincerity, takes on many forms, ranging from an invitation to try a renowned cup of tea to a visit to a destination planned spontaneously around a delicious family dinner.

Refusing an invitation can be viewed as disrespectful because hospitality is so essential. Accepting these charming gestures boosts your prospects of meeting new people and knowing more about a nation.

12. Old Medinas

In Morocco, a medina refers to a city’s old town or historical center. Seven of Morocco’s medinas are included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and are fascinating places to visit.

King Mohamed VI recently inaugurated Bayt Dakira, a restored building highlighting Jewish heritage, in the Essaouira medina. The magic of Marrakech never ceases to enchant, while wandering through the narrow alleyways of Fez feels like a journey back in time.

Understandably, a stay in a riad within the walls of these centuries-old cities is on the must-do list of most travelers visiting Morocco.

In the old cities, travelers find themselves in the heart of the action – cavernous carpet shops where hours are whiled away sipping mint tea to find the perfect rug. Spice shops lined with perfumes, hand-written signs describing potions for the adventurous, and perfectly displayed spices. And, of course, workshops passed down from generation to generation where artisans still produce handmade crafts.

Morocco Old Medinas

In Morocco, almost every city has its own Medina, and to help you discover the beauty of each one.

Here are some of the most beautiful Medinas in Morocco:

  • The old Medina of Marrakech: the enchanting city of Marrakech attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. This tourist hub, famous for its warm weather, mosques, and stunning crafts, offers luxury living. Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, the Medina of Marrakech is known for its natural and culturally important value.
  • The Medina of Fez: when you hear the question, what is Morocco famous for? One of the first things to come to mind is the bustling medinas in Fez. Fez is the second largest city in Morocco and is a favorite among tourists looking to experience Morocco’s art and culture. The city is known for its historical museums, gardens, and tanneries.
  • The Medina of Chefchaouen: the city of Chefchaouen is also called “The blue pearl” for its blue and white colored streets and houses, which is why it is considered one of the most beautiful Medinas in Morocco.
  • The Medina of Essaouira: previously called “Mogador” (A name the Phoenicians gave), Essaouira is a charming city along the Atlantic Ocean. Also called “The windy city” for its wind, blowing throughout the year, Essaouira was considered a commercial center until the end of the 19th century. The city holds multiple water sports competitions and music festivals thanks to its weather and free spirit ambiance. Besides the astonishing architecture, the medina is known for its numerous artisans, argan oil, and spice shops.
  • The Medina of Taza: listed as a national cultural heritage, the medina of Taza is located between the Middle Atlas and the Rif mountains in northeastern Morocco. It has a rich artistic and cultural heritage left by the Idrissides dynasty, which ruled the area for more than a millennium.

13. Rich History

Whether you’re strolling through the narrow streets of a medina, shopping for spices in a busy souk, or following a tour guide up to a remote Berber village, you can’t escape the power of Moroccan history and the unique influences from the Berber, Arab, African, and later Spanish and French. 

The indigenous Berber people are thought to have lived in Morocco, especially the Atlas Mountains range, for thousands of years. They survived through the Ancient Roman period and a cycle of rising and falling Islamic dynasties. In 1884, Spain established a protectorate in coastal areas of Morocco.

Then the French came in 1912 and made Morocco their protectorate (while Spain was allowed to operate in Zones of influence in northern and southern Morocco).

All through the late 1800s and early 1900s, France and Spain battled for power over Morocco, and the country didn’t gain independence until March 1956, when it separated itself from Spain and France.

14. Very Changing Climate

Morocco’s climate is moderate and subtropical, cooled by breezes off the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The weather is unpredictable and can be changeable, swinging from extreme heat to unexpected cold.

The attraction of both the interior cities and villages and the resorts along the coast means that Morocco is a year-round tourist destination. There isn’t an “off” season, just different tourists coming at different times with different interests.

The only time you will find things closed in Morocco, aside from the public holidays, are during Ramadan or other religious festivals such as Eid-Fitr (just after Ramadan) and Eid Kabir.

Morocco’s climate is very diverse, varying with the season and region. In general, the country has a tropical climate, with temperatures reaching as high as 35°C (95°F) and as low as 5°C (41°F) in the Sahara.

The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds, while inland areas have a hotter, drier continental climate.

In the country’s south, the weather is scorching and dry most of the year, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night, especially in December and January.

Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas, and the country is mostly dry, with high temperatures in summer and a cooler climate in the mountains. Marrakech and Agadir enjoy an average temperature of 21°C (70ºF) during the winter.

15. The Moroccan Imperial Cities

Morocco is such a feast for the traveler’s senses. It’s a country of variety, with mountains, deserts, coastlines, Kasbah valleys, and intriguing nature.

From place to place, you’ll constantly witness new cultures, languages, foods, and variations of the minty Moroccan tea. But Morocco also has a range of exciting, vibrant, and historic cities.

Four of the country’s most famous cities are commonly referred to as the Imperial Cities. All have, at one point in time, been the capital of the country; each one has ancient medinas and royal palaces.

imperial cities of morocco

Yet each has its unique vibe, from Rabat’s laid-back coastal feel to the small yet chaotic Meknes, the huge and cultural Fes, to the red painted walls and the wild square of Marrakech. 

 These four exotic cities are bursting with life. Visitors can experience endless sensations: colors, scents, tastes, sounds, and textures that make each one special and give it its particular character.

Morocco’s imperial cities are ancient religious, cultural, and political centers and are compulsory stops on a visit to the country. 

16. Music Genres

Moroccan music is just as magical as the country itself. Different styles of music include Amazigh folk, Gnawa, Rai, Chaabi, and Andalusian.

What’s special about Moroccan music is the number of cultural influences that are reflected in it. However, the separation of the sea has allowed Morocco to create their musical vibe with inspiration from surrounding cultures.

Music in Morocco is as diverse and intricate as the country itself. The type of music most widely enjoyed typically depends on the region. That being said, Moroccan music has six primary genres: Berber, Chaabi, Gnawa, Rai, and Sufi music.

1. Berber 

There are three different subcategories of Berber music: in villages, in rituals, and in the professional circuit. Within these three subcategories, instruments range from flutes, drums, and voices to the more complex variety led by a poet, or amydaz, accompanied by drums, a rabab (a type of single-stringed fiddle), and a double kind of clarinet.

Other Berber traditions add in lutes and cymbals and unfold the performance in set stages, from a single rabab to sung poetry to dance.

2. Chaabi

Chaabi is a hybrid of numerous varieties of Moroccan folk music. Originally performed in markets, Chaabi can now be found at many celebrations and important events. During the 1970s, Chaabi music gained popularity as it found a place alongside Egyptian and Lebanese music.

Early Chaabi music consisted of a lute, a percussion instrument called a hadjuj but evolved to include a type of chordophone called a buzuq and even electric guitars.

3. Gnawa

Gnawa is generally associated with mysticism and spiritual practices. Gnawa found its way to Morocco from Sub-Saharan Africa, blending the Sufi traditions with early African animistic traditions.

Because of this, some similarities between Gnawa and other musical traditions of the African diaspora in Brazil, Haiti, and Cuba can be found.

4. Rai

Though more closely associated with Algeria and Egypt, Rai music has a distinct presence in Morocco, partly due to many Algerian-born Moroccans in the Eastern part of the country.

Men traditionally sang Rai music, but by the 20th century, female singers were gaining popularity. Originating among the poor, Rai music often deals with social issues in lyrical narratives.

5. Sufi music

Music is integral to the spiritual traditions of Sufi brotherhoods (called tarikas), which have a strong presence in Morocco.

While the mysteries of Sufism are difficult for outsiders to grasp, Sufi music knits into their meditative rituals wherein participants reach a trance-like state of higher consciousness. Not surprisingly, Sufi music is known for its hypnotic and otherworldly nature and is generally without rhythmic structure.

17. Rich Culture & Traditions

Like all other countries, Morocco is special with its own culture. Furthermore, it is also a place of acceptance of differences. Celebration is an important aspect of Moroccan culture. Morocco is an exciting and entertaining country that claims cultural, historical, and religious holidays and festivals. 

Morocco Culture and Traditions

During Moroccan festivities, one can expect to encounter fasting, dancing, and feasting – all depending on the type of holiday being celebrated.

The Muslim festivals and religious holidays are traditionally observed by all Moroccans regardless of how long they last. They are also often observed by foreigners living in Morocco.

The medinas (ancient urban centers) are the ideal place to visit if you want to immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and traditions. Observe the hidden intricacies of Moroccan daily life as you walk through the alleyways of each medina.

Morocco is known for its peaceful gatherings as a Mediterranean country: from a cool tea ceremony to a delectable Couscous, the staple of solidarity, to a vibrant folklore event, you’ll return home with incredible experiences to report and share.

18. Moroccan Hammams

For every tourist coming to Morocco, visiting a traditional Moroccan hammam and experiencing the wide range of benefits is undoubtedly on their bucket list. While public bathhouses might be associated with Turkish and Roman cultures, the Moroccan hammam is a unique experience.

Moroccan Hammams

Moroccan hammams take their inspiration from the first original bathhouses created by the Roman empire more than 2000 years ago, built to increase public hygiene.

Roman rule over North Africa left its pronounced influence on Moroccan culture, seen in the architecture of Roman ruins remaining across the country. Rome’s thumbprint in modern Morocco is most noticeable in the Moroccan hammam.

The Moroccan hammam quickly became a traditional weekly ritual among Moroccans, especially since having a bathing room was not common in Moroccan houses. Another reason the Moroccan hammam grew in popularity is that water is a significant symbol of purification and cleanliness in Islam.

In Morocco, there are various types of hammams. Moroccan bathers frequent the local, more traditional hammams. These are typically located in smaller towns, though sometimes you can find one in more popular neighborhoods in big cities.

These are the hammams that Moroccans regularly use as their public bathhouse.

19. Moroccan Souks & Riads

Speaking of medinas, we can’t miss the souks. One of the things Morocco is known for, a souk, is the medina’s market. 

Souk is the Arabic word for bazaar or market, and these are commonly found across North Africa and the Middle East. Souks reflect their country and region’s local traditions, culture, and agriculture.

Souks in Morocco sell various goods, and you can buy tagines, spices, clothing, leather goods, home decor, tea sets, lanterns, shoes, jewelry, cosmetic products, rugs, and countless more. 

Moroccan souks and riads

The vibrant souks of Morocco sell everything from textiles and ceramics to jewelry and spices. Have you seen a Moroccan house? Probably not. That’s because most Moroccans don’t live in houses but in riads. 

Deriving from the Arab word Ryad (meaning garden), the riads are townhouses built around an inner courtyard or garden. They look a bit shabby from the outside, but their interior is the opposite – opulent and well-crafted. 

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Final Thoughts

Morocco is undoubtedly a marvelous land of contrasts, a magnificent meeting point of western and eastern influences, and a unique land of co-existence and tolerance.

So many influences from cultures like America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have encouraged native people to create their own practical and open culture that picks and chooses what works best for them.

The cities, palaces, forts, mosques, and other buildings built by these various dynasties are distributed throughout the country. Many of them are regarded as architectural marvels.

Morocco was also the cultural hub of the medieval Islamic world, and Islamic scholars from different parts of the Arab world would gather to discuss religion and science. The country is associated with a rich history and culture, making it a unique place worthy of a visit.

That’s for today’s blog post. Thanks for reading!


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The Editorial Team

Optimos Travel is a travel blog to help you travel the world, and explore different lifestyles, traditions, foods, and everything in between.