5 Things you can only see in Morocco
Morocco is a land of wonders that tickles the senses with amazing views, vibrant colors, and fresh flavors. Traveling through Morocco is an experience unlike any other. Morocco is truly unique with a wealth of beauty here and plenty of magical sights that you won’t find anywhere else.
Here are five things you can only see in Morocco:
A completely blue city
The city of Chefchaouen (lovingly called Chaouen by the locals) is also known as "The Blue Pearl". This isn’t a metaphor; the town is actually blue! All buildings in the old Medina were painted different shades of blue - and according to the stories, it was the Jewish refugees who settled in Chefchaouen that painted their houses blue to ward off mosquitos. Whether that worked or not, the result is striking. No wonder it is one of the most photographed places in Morocco. Walking through the Medina, there is something beautiful around every corner. The contrast between the blue of the houses and the bright colors of the doors, flowers and other adornments is absolutely stunning. For the best view, you have to walk up to the Spanish Mosque from which you can see the blue city sprawled out on the hill.
Goats in a tree
You might have seen goats climb mountains, but have you ever seen them climb a tree? Traveling through southwest Morocco, you might see this bizarre scene: goats climbing in trees to eat the fruit. They don’t climb just any tree; this strictly happens with argan trees. This tree might be prickly and thorny, but it contains a real Moroccan treasure: argan nuts. Unlike the goats, humans don’t actually eat the fruit of the argan tree. Instead, they are strictly interested in the seeds. When the goats eat the fruit of the argan tree, they don’t digest the nuts. The nuts soften while passing through the goat’s system, making them easier to handle. Argan nuts are used to make precious argan oil, a nourishing oil perfect for cosmetics. Although the goats are helpful for the production of argan oil, they are now mostly encouraged to climb for the entertainment of tourists. Be aware that some farmers have started tying the goats to the trees and charging for photographs!
Famous TV and film sets
Did you know that Morocco has the most prominent film sets in the world, after Hollywood? The city of Ouarzazate is nicknamed “Hollywood of Morocco” and is home to some of the biggest film studios in the world. Whenever someone needs desert scenery for their film, this is where they tend to go. Big Hollywood films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Kundun (1997), Legionnaire (1998), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Alexander (2004), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Prince of Persia (2010), Hanna (2011) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) were made here. Fans of the TV series Game of Thrones will surely recognize the UNESCO World Heritage Site Aït Benhaddou as slave city Yunkai.
A full starry night
Is there anything more romantic than stargazing? Stars are undeniably lovely everywhere, but few places have a starry night as impressive as the Sahara Desert. The lack of light pollution in the desert means that you can see a lot more stars than anywhere else. As remarkable as the Sahara is during the day, it is even better once the sun goes down. A tour of the desert in Morocco will not only reward you with a stunning sunset but also views of millions of stars, including the Milky Way!
Traditional leather tanneries
If you don’t mind strong smells, then a visit to the leather tanneries is a must in Morocco. Morocco is known for its fine leather goods, and a lot of leather is processed by hand using traditional techniques. The north Morocco city of Fez is especially well known for its tanneries. The Chouara Tannery is the largest and oldest in the city and a major tourist attraction. The tradition of leather tanning is as old as the city itself and has not changed since the 11th century. The hides are soaked for 2-3 days in a mixture of cow urine, quicklime, salt, and water. As you can imagine, this produces a pungent smell. They are then scraped off and kneaded by foot for 3 hours in pigeon poop and water to soften the hides. Ultimately, the hides are dyed with natural plant dyes such as saffron, mint, indigo, and henna. It is a fascinating process to see, but because of its popularity, many fake guides try to scam people here. If you want to see the Chouara Tannery, it is best to book a licensed guide.