JEWISH CULTURE IN MOROCCO TOUR
JEWISH CULTURE IN MOROCCO TOUR
Jewish heritage tours Morocco has an exotic atmosphere, beautiful, landscapes, picturesque, markets, and Jewish community with strong ties. Jewish heritage tours in Morocco are an opportunity to discover the old Jews shelters (Mellah) and their Andalusian architectures; the unique Jewish Museum in African and the Islamic world; the Jewish cemeteries; the synagogues and Jewish families’ antics in some fine stores of the old cities.
Day 1: Casablanca
Arrival to Casablanca The most important city in Morocco Casablanca. Continue to the capital of Rabat for overnight.
Day 2: Rabat –Meknes – Fes
We will visit the capital of Rabat, where we’ll visit the Tour Hassan, the yet to be completed mammoth mosque. Then it’s off to see the King’s Palace and the mausoleum of King Hassan V as well as numerous other important sites. After our visit we will travel to the city Meknes which was built by Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century and which is fondly known as the “Versailles of Morocco.” Meknes was a lively Jewish center until its Jewish inhabitants made aliyah with the founding of the State of Israel. We’ll tour the many sites that adorned the city in the times of Sultan Ismail, including the famous Mansur Gate. After our visit we will continue Fes for overnight.
Day 3: Fes
Today will be mostly devoted to the religious and cultural capital of Morocco, which combines old and new. There will be a guided tour with a local English-speaking guide. The area of Fes is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its narrow lanes with their workshops remain as they have been for hundreds of years. We’ll visit the square of the Royal Palace, which is alongside the Jewish quarter – the oldest Mellah in Morocco, as well as the Jewish cemetery and the Abu Danan Synagogue in the Mellah. We’ll view the Dynastic Tombs and city as a whole from the green roofs and walls of Fez. From the rooftops we’ll see the tannery quarter where hides are treated, and we’ll visit a ceramics factory where we’ll learn about this unique local craft. The city’s ramparts surround a maze of winding alleys and a bustling market divided according the guilds of its artisans.
Day 4: Fes – Ifran- Midelt – Merzouga
After breakfast we travel to Ifran, a Swiss-type Moroccan town, located at 1600 meters above sea level. The entire area is surrounded by magnificent monkey inhabited cedar forests. The town also hosts the Peace University, where members of the three monotheistic religions were supposed to have studied together. Follow the old caravan trail south. Stop for lunch in Midelt, a market town set in the high plains between the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges. Continue along the palm-fringed Ziz Valley, famous for date cultivation, to the Tafilalt oasis on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Arrive to Merzouga on the afternoon. You’ll be welcomed with a glass of mint tea then get guided by an experience Camel Guide taking the best care of you. Overnight will be at the berber camp.
Day 5: Merzouga dunes – Todra Gorge – Ouarzazate
Early in the morning, your camel man will wake you up to see the spectacle of the sunrise – what well may be the best sunrise of your life -over the dunes of the Sahara. You’ll peacefully camel-trek back to your riad for luxurious breakfast and a shower. After breakfast, we will leave for Rissani. If it is a Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday this is an opportunity to explore the souk, once a meeting place for many caravans coming from Timbuktu in Mali. Rissani, once Sijilmassa, is the foundation of the Alaouite Dynasty, the current ruling family. With most of the woman veiled, and men hooded, this is a very traditional Moroccan town .we will continue to Tinghir, one of the most beautiful oases in southern Morocco.Toward evening we‘ll arrive to the French built regional city Ouarzazate. we will see the traditional villages and picturesque Kasbahs which are often used as backgrounds in the production of Hollywood movies.
Day 6: Ouarzazate – Aït Benhaddou- Marrakesh
Today we will Visit Aït Ben Haddou in the High Atlas Mountains. Continue through the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass to Marrakesh – the ‘Red City’. Like many other former imperial cities in Morocco, Marrakesh is comprised of an old fortified city – the médina – and an adjacent modern city. Marrakesh is home to Morocco’s largest traditional market (‘souk’) where you might like to do some shopping…well arrive to our hotel and star preparing for Shabbat.
Day 7 Shabbat: Marrakesh
After Shabbat services and lunch we‘ll take a walking tour. In the evening, we’ll all go out to see “Fantasia” a Berber folklore show.
Day 8: Marrakesh – Ourika valley – Marrakesh
“The Red City” or the “Pearl of the South” are but two of the names given to Marrakesh the most beautiful city in Morocco that lies at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The city is divided in two: the new and the ancient. We’ll visit the Almanara Gardens and the city center with its lively markets. We’ll pass through the Mellah, and stop by the Koutoubia Mosque, visit a Berber pharmacy and the Bahia Palace. We’ll visit a Mellah where Jews no longer live, but where there is an ancient synagogue that is more than 500 years old. We’ll tour the “medina” the market quarter of the city. The market is a mass of colors, voices and smells, a polyglot of all the treasures that exist in this country. The “medina” is divided according to type of product: an area for silver houses silversmiths and silver dealers, while gold is dealt in a different area, and rows upon rows of stalls sell leather, copper and jewelry. We‘ll end the day with a visit to the Ourika valley also known as ‘Valley of the Jews’ where enjoy the view of the red wild scenery and the picturesque villages among the mountains. We‘ll return to Marrakech for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Marrakesh – Essaouira- Safi
Today our sightseeing will begin in Essaouira, ex Portuguese Mogador stronghold. In the 18th century, the Alaouite Sultan Mohamed Ben Abdallah charged some prominent Jewish families to promote international trade from the port of Essaouira. Essaouira’s mellah covers over 10 percent of the town, but Jews constituted almost 40 percent of the population in the late 1880’s. Jewish stars on the doors to the mellah show the degree to which Jews were accepted in Essaouira, to the point that some of the richer Jews did not even live in the mellah. Commemorative plaques indicate the buildings in which synagogues were located. Former inhabitants of Essaouira, most of them Jewish, formed a committee to rehabilitate the town. The Jewish cemetery, just outside the city gates, is extremely well-kept. Two historical synagogues should be renovated soon “Slat Rabbi Haןm Pinto and Slat Attias”. Continue to Safi and visit the Mellah in the Northern part of the medina, the sanctuary of Oulad Ben Zmirou and the Portuguese fortress.
Day 10: Azemmour – Casablanca
This morning we will visit Azemmour and explore the historic Kasbah and the attractive Jewish quarter. After the tour we will continue to Casablanca. Upon arrival we’ll take a panoramic tour of the city during which we’ll see the newer part of this North African metropolis, including the United Nations Square, renowned for the Neo Moorish buildings that surround it, and for the fountain, which sprays water all around. From there we’ll head to Great Mosque built half on land and half on water. Many of Morocco’s finest artists and artisans worked for many years to create this magnificent edifice. In fact, every Moroccan citizen donated funds for the project in one way or another to ensure that the project’s costs, which soared to over $800 million, would be covered. The mosque’s minaret rises to a height of 200 meters, and its central prayer hall can contain thousands of worshippers. This is a true architectural wonder. We’ll visit the new and old cities, the colorful bazaars and the promenade along the ocean.
Day 11: Casablanca – flight back home
After breakfast we’ll bid a sad farewell to Morocco. Our tour is now over and we take our memories with us as we head to the airport from where we take our flights home.