Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage sites
Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage sites
Morocco has numerous world heritage sites which have been authenticated and added to the UNESCO World Heritage list which ensures that member states work together to protect the sites as in acted under law whilst providing training, funding and assistance to states ensuring the importance of our worlds heritage is protected for the future generations.
For a site to be listed it goes through strict assessments and must meet internationally agreed criteria and then information placed before a panel of experts where a decision is made whether to add the site to the List.
Since the establishment of the UNESCO World heritage program in 1972 a total of 193 states parties have signed the convention. In September of 2017, 1073 sites are listed of which 832 are cultural, 206 natural, and 35 are mixed properties.
Morocco’s many historical sites are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites which showcase the rich historical significance and culture Morocco maintains.
Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) (2001)
An exceptional example of a 12th Century fortified town, since its foundation it has been a major international trading sea port linking Morocco to Europe and the rest of the world with contemporary European architecture where the architecture took influences from Brittany this medina offers the classic winding and labyrinth style streets but it’s the well preserved walls in its authentic materials and diverse cultural ethnic groups historically living side by side.
Medina of Fez (1981)
Founded in the early 9th century with what is believed as the world’s oldest University and religious schools the medina of Fez certainly has earned its place on the UNESCO heritage list. The Medina offering sanction to many of the cities monuments and monumental buildings enabling for them to be reasonable preserved with many intrinsic mosaics and artistic works Fez was the first historic Medina to be added to the list in 1981. As the world’s largest car free urban area you are sure to get lost around the labyrinth of Narrow lanes within the medina observing very little has changed here for hundreds of years with donkeys still pulling carts.
Ksar of Ait ben Haddou (1987)
This ksar is made of Earth and is a group of buildings built together and sounded by a defensive wall with corner towers to strengthen the wall the Ksar is an exceptionally good example of architecture of Southern Morocco. This once was an important city believed to have been established in year 757AD on a caravan trading route the city also had Jewish and Muslims living together in harmony with two cemeteries one Muslim and one Jewish.
Medina of Marrakesh (1985)
Marrakesh was founded around 1070-72 by the Almoravids serving as the Political and economical hub for the western Muslim world for a long period of time throughout history the Medina has many remarkable monuments and mosques from that period the Koutoubia Mosque with its 77 metre tall minaret is an example of Muslim architecture from this time. The walls were not built until 1126 -27 a 7KM circuit which replaced thorn bushes.
Portuguese city of Mazagan (El Jadida) (2004)
This Portuguese fortified city was built in the early 16th century and is an early example of Renaissance military design the surviving Portuguese buildings are the cistern and Church of the Assumption built in late Gothic architecture. This city was one of the first Portuguese settlements as they travelled towards India the city was later taken over by the Moroccans in 1769 whilst what remains is considered an unspoilt example of interchanges of culture and influence between Morocco and Europe within the 16th to 18th centuries.
Historic City of Meknes (1996)
Founded initially as a Military settlement by the Almoravids in the 11th Century and then becoming a capital city under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl turning it into a spectacular city in Spanish-Moorish style and surrounding the city in High walls and large doors which are still noticeable today. This impressive city with 45 km of defence walls 20 guarded gates , over 50 palaces and enormous stables, military academy and a complex water storage cistern were Sultan Moulay Ismail’s noted achievements in creating his capital.
Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City (2012)
Rabat might be Morocco’s modern capital city built it is still a city steeped in history with many historic places and monuments. The city dates back to the 12th century. The newer areas of the city were built under the French protectorate starting in 1912 until the 1930’s. The older parts including the Hassan Mosque which begun in 1184 the city also has the Jardins d’Essais botanical and pleasure gardens located there.
Medina of Tetouan (1997)
Tetouan formally Titawin was of great importance to the Islamic world from the 8th century onwards serving as a main place of contact between Andalusia and Morocco the town was rebuilt by many Andalusian refugees following their expulsion by the Spanish. The medina is probably one of the smallest Medinas however it is the most complete and untouched or changed by outside influences. Spread across the steep slopes of Jebel Dersa in the northern Rif region with a stunning mountain backdrop many mosaics and a blend of architecture with a blend of Moroccan and Andalusian styles and influences.
Archaeological Site of Volubilis (1997)
This previously important Roman Empire outpost prior to that the Mauritanian Capital founded in the 3rd century B.C unfortunately many of its buildings and artefacts have been damaged over time due to exposure to the elements, looting and earth quakes. The remaining mosaics and structures tell the story of fine buildings and an elaborate thriving city. Today archaeologists have unearthed many interesting mosaics, a third century Triumphal arch and the Casilica. The site of Volubilis has been occupied with many civilisations namely Libyco-Berber and Mauritanian, Roman, Christian and Arabo Islamic the area was rocked by an earth quake in 1755 which is believed to have caused the cities final abandonment.
Morocco has a wealth of history and historical places mostly in reasonably good condition considering how old they are, Morocco feels like the land time has forgotten walking down the street in a cosmopolitan city modern coffee shops and cars but turning the corner could lead to a leap back in time a century or two with donkey and carts, street traders and buildings reminding you of the distant past.
Morocco’s many historical places may start to appear on the UNESCO heritage list as they are assessed and considered by the committee now is an exciting time to see this undiscovered historical country.
If you want to consider exploring some of the historical sites listed by UNESCO or even some of the sites that are still to be assessed or explored contact one of our travel designers.