By: Judi Phillips
The medinas in Morocco and, in other cities I’ve visited in North Africa, are the oldest part of a city, built in medieval times with a high wall encircling the perimeter as a defense against invaders. The streets were intentionally narrow to prevent the entrance of chariots. And doorways were low to keep out men astride horseback.
These are the dry facts. They don’t begin to convey the magic and excitement of being there. There are shops of all kinds, shoes, traditional clothing, poufs (we would call them hassocks), antiques and souvenirs. Each medina has a different feel.
Originally named Mogador, Essaouira was first a Phoenician trading settlement, followed by Cretan, Greek and Roman settlements. The present medina is relatively new, having been built in the 18thcentury. Parts are covered over with narrow passageways. Other streets are open and wider. In this picture, you can see the wall on the right. There are several restaurants, cafes and coffee bars as well as many small shops.
The medina in Fez is much older, having been established in the 6th century. Pedestrians, motorbikes and donkey carts share the narrow maze of streets. [picture of medina-fez] Shops filled with colorful wares line the streets. Fez is famous for the leather tanneries with large, open vats of colorful dyes.
As I mentioned last week, Rabat was founded in the 3rd century. I always go to the medina with my son. He knows it very well and I know I would get lost in the winding streets. We usually enter the gate on the ocean side. The first picture above is taken just before that entrance. People still live inside the medina. There are hidden courtyards [hidden courtyard picture] and delightful restaurants. One of my son’s favorites is in a Ryad (residence), Dinarjet. This picture doesn’t begin to show the elegance of these homes.
Across the Bou Regreg River from Rabat is Salé. Originally a Phoenician colony it is more famously known as the Barbary Coast, a haven for pirates during the 16th and 17th centuries. Here’s me standing in front of the Barbary Coast.
As before, as a thank you for visiting Morocco with me, one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to receive ahandcrafted bookmark, made of embossed metal with a fancy tassel attached, that I brought at the medina in Marrakech.
I hope you enjoyed a personal look into the country of Morocco and why I love it there. You’re always welcome to visit me at my website, www.judiphillips.com.