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Moroccan Visual Artist & Jewelry Designer, Chama Mechtaly Builds Aesthetic Bridges

Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 29, 2021 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (138)

 Chama-Mechtaly-Builds-Bridges-Honor-of-Abraham-Accords-Morocco-Travel-Blog

A new golden era and the ideology of peace in Middle  East region has the potential to blossom at last. This vision is shared by Dubai-based, Moroccan visual artist and activist Chama Mechtaly. Her focus has been to introduce the unique Jewish History of Morocco, North Africa through multimedia art and jewelry design. Originally from Casablanca, Chama Mechtaly, claims, “I am a romantic and I dwell on the romanticism of Andalusia.”  Mechtaly is the Creative Director of the company, Moors and Saints, which makes handcrafted products in Dubai and is committed to interfaith dialogue and pluralism. In the wake of the Abraham Accords and the recent peace deal between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates along with improving relations between Israel and Morocco, these actions have increased importance and continued to inspire artists like Chama Mechtaly is working with the Jerusalem Biennale on the first Jerusalem-Dubai art residency and exhibition, which will foster co-creation and artistic development through Hebrew and Arabic calligraphy. “I can’t help but think of the golden era of Ibn Ezra and Judah Halevi, Solomon Ibn Gabirol and the giants of Hebrew poetry who developed in close contact and under the influence of Arabic poetry." says Mechtaly.  This is a cultural renaissance that is being ignited in Dubai. Now the flames are being fanned and fed. Dubai and Jerusalem have many similarities, such as ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ and Dubai as a ‘City of Gold.’” Mechtaly grew up in Casablanca, Morocco and moved to Boston when she was awarded a scholarship to study at Brandeis University. Her interest to discover more about about her family's history and the origins of her last name inspired a new, artistic journey. Chama set out to dig through her identity in effort to decolonize her own Moroccan history. She discovered that her father did not share his family story being her grandfather had come from a Moroccan Jewish family and converted to marry a Muslim woman.  Morocco's extensive Jewish Heritage and historic Jewish community are notable with thousands of Israeli Jews having roots in Morocco.

Mechtaly raised the question of what her family’s identity means to them however some of her relatives were sensitive and did not wish to discuss the topic at the time. Intern, she decided to express her  feelings through art. “I had always painted since I was a kid and I took those questions [I had] to the canvas. I used to paint portraits of Amazigh [Berber] women who were Jewish. This is what is referred to intersectionality today; when you sit at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and accumulate layers of invisibility.” With her mother, Mechtaly's objective was to better understand her past by removing the layers of complexity of North African Jewry and also those that exist particularly within the history of Moroccan Jews. Although many Jews emigrated to Morocco during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the origination of their traditions and history run much deeper. Chama discovered another narrative that was shared by her mother, when researching Amazigh Jewry. Her mother shared how Jews were indigenous to Morocco for over 3,000 years, perhaps even more. She observed transformation where her work was exhibited given it  attracted North African communities from the diaspora. People noticed the women featured in her works had similarities to their grandparents yet these women were Jewish. They began to process the resemblance  of Jews and Muslims facial and bone structure within the context of North Africa. It helped to dismantle the idea of the "othering" of people that had gone on for decades.” This “othering” is present when Jews are seen as outsiders instead of part of Middle Eastern countries. That transformation is what pushed Chama to continue to use her art for social transformation.. She received messages from strangers, both Muslims and Jews, about how her work made them feel seen and repaired something within them. Mechtaly moved back to the UAE four and a half years ago. At the time the Abraham Accords were not even a dream. “I couldn’t even access Jewish websites for scholarship and research purposes at the time,” she recalls. I had studied conflict resolution and international relations at Brandeis, so I was interested in reconciliation work and activism for the inclusion of the history of minorities of the region in school curricula, especially because I don’t believe that peace can be sustainable without addressing historical grievances and narratives of trauma," she states.  

Chama-Mechtaly-Aesthetic-Designer-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Mechtaly’s concept of her company Moors and Saints sprung from her experience living in Dubai. Moors and Saints became  more than a jewelry design startup. Its purpose is to connect global cultures in meaningful ways with the goal to reveal powerful examples of tolerance and coexistence throughout history. Her aim is to continue the mission she embarked on through painting in a “language of luxury goods and fine jewelry, Her concept for Moors and Saints involves blending Jewish and Islamic themes similar to how Magen David inspired by jewelry models on Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. “I knew that people were ready to embrace the shared history between Muslims and Jews in the region even if they didn’t necessarily express it in public. This could bring dialogue and reconciliation and highlight the shared history between Jews and Muslims in the region without threatening or offending anyone.” she adds. Mechtaly is a solid example of the hope of the Abraham Accords. Her life embodies this bridge between Jewish and Muslim history, the region and the mosaic of cultures from the Atlas Mountains to Jerusalem and the exquisite nightlife of Dubai. When she was studying at Brandeis, she exhibited in the Boston area and abroad. Chamaa spoke about Amazigh Jewry and the Berber Jews of North Africa. She had friends and colleagues who were baffled when she mentioned the Amazigh Jews... so many people were taken by surprise. The responses  from Chama Mechtaly's works have been primarily positive however at times her work was considered political in North Africa and became the subject of censorship by government authorities. A work she created of the Moroccan Flag Revisited was originally censored yet five years later she was asked to exhibit in Morocco. Her work has been well-received since the news broke of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco. Now people are sharing the painting and displaying it as the profile picture of new WhatsApp groups, and talking about it on videos.

Ibn-Khaldoun-North-African-Scholar-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Ibn Khaldoun, a North African scholar of Islam, social scientist, philosopher and historian who has been described as the founder of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography claims the Amazigh Jewish community in Morocco was the result of many historic factors.  The wave of Jewish migration after the destruction of the Second Temple Mount and settling elsewhere along with local conversions expanded Jewish communities. Some theories say that Jews settled in the Maghreb region even before. The Amazigh community was pagan prior to the arrival of Jews in the Maghreb therefore conversions or interactions with Judaism go back for at least 3,000 years.  Chama supports the idea that there is a deep connection between Muslims and Jews, this strongly influenced artistry and craftsmanship. “There is a museum in the south of Morocco that shows how this visual syncretism takes place, with the Star of David in jewelry or on old flags and Hebrew scripture on a wooden guillotine.” she says.]

Mechtaly met  many Jews in Dubai who came from Israel who were interested in Amazigh history. The mayor of Yeruham said her dream was to have a museum of Amazigh Jewry in Israel. When it comes to design, Mechtaly emphasizes how important it is to acknowledge  the Andalusian and Sephardi history of the region. Without the influence and pairing of multiple religions, Moorish design and Andalusian architecture would not exist nor would the Golden Era of Islam or Golden Age of Hebrew poetry in Andalusia. Both were crucial to the creation of the golden moment in history referred to as Andalusia.  

Eldridge-Street-Synagogue-New York-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Examples of the synthesis of Moorish design can be found in the Dohány Synagogue in Budapest and the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York . Both were influenced by Moorish design when Jews embraced their Moorish architecture in the 19th and early 20th centuries in architecture. These Moorish synagogue designs were influenced by the Alhambra and the Mezquita; the grand Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba.

For more information about Jewish Heritage Morocco

How to Make a Moroccan Kaftan

Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 25, 2020 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (27)

 Design Your Own Moroccan Kaftan Y

Since the 16th century after the Muslims and Jews emigrated to Morocco from Andalusia, the kaftan has been mentioned in Moroccan culture and fashion. Originally, the lavishly adorned garment was used as a coat or overdress and had the practical job of ventilating the body for both men and women. Starting from the middle 20th century, however, the kaftan became an exotic and desired fashion look. Today it is worn at special events like ceremonies, birthdays, and weddings. Furthermore, many celebrities, political figures, and models worldwide have adopted the kaftan into their wardrobe. In 2019 alone, there have been several occasions where the Moroccan kaftan made a powerful fashion statement. In Spring, Christian Dior launched his 2020 Cruise Collection Fashion Show in Marrakech and featured several kaftan inspired looks. Ivanka Trump was also spotted glittering in a gold Moroccan gown when she met with Princess Lalla Meryem during her November 2019 Women’s Empowerment trip to Morocco. Kaftans were also the focus of Morocco in Abu Dhabi Fashion Festival 2019. Reflecting on the show, designer Sofia Ben Ibrahim expressed “The Kaftan has been passed down through many generations.” Over the years kaftans have been spotted on everyone from the Beatles on their tours, to many influential and powerful figures like Gisele Bundchen, Hillary Clinton, and Saudi Princess Ameera al-Taweel. Even Meryl Streep wore a silky ivory-gold caftan in her 2018 film The Post. England’s British duchess Camilla Parker Bowles also adores the kaftan. After attending the Rabat kaftan fashion show in 2011, she began to be referred to as the “the queen of caftans.” 

Hillary-Clinton-in-Moroccan-Kaftan-Morocco-Travel-Blog

There are several different styles of kaftans. They range from the most basic cotton pieces for lounging or visits with friends to extravagant gowns with unique embroidery. Furthermore, different regions and districts of Morocco have their own kaftan styles. In Rabat, a key feature of kaftans is their colorful threads, floral designs, leaves, and elaborate stitching. Kaftans in Meknes and Fes are patterned with geometric shapes like squares, triangles, and straight lines. These different modes are the result of Morocco’s melting pot history. The kingdom is indigenously Berber but has been invaded and resided in by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even the Ottomans who captured Fes in 1554. Before the Kaftan ever came to Andalusia it was worn by the Ottoman sultans. The dominating Ottomans' presence was felt worldwide for centuries. As a result, kaftans have been a long source of inspiration for designers everywhere. Notably, Lebanese Haute Couture designer Elie Saab and the iconic Yves Saint Laurent have created many collections inspired by the Middle Eastern-North African look. Marrakech’s Yves Saint Laurent Museum even has a dedicated collection of Laurent's kaftan dresses. Travelers to Morocco are often impressed with the beautiful robes they see in the YSL museum and in the souks, and they wish to take a dress home with them. Luckily, due to the popular evolution of the Kaftan it is a fun piece to shop. You can buy them in Marrakech concept stores like 33 Rue Majorelle, Max & Jan, Kaftan Queen, or at Norya Ayron. If you have time, it is also possible to go fabric shopping and commission a local Moroccan tailor to hand-make your kaftan. 

Moroccan-Kaftan-Hand-made-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Our FAQ Kaftan Guide Make Your Own Kaftan (Caftan)

In determining what kind of kaftan is right for you, it is important to consider where you will wear your kaftan. Some kaftan materials are made from easy and light fabrics. These include cotton or chiffon silk and best for casual situations like relaxing at your home or meeting a friend in the medina. Morocco has a hot desert climate so women enjoy dressing in casual kaftans to feel at ease and cool down their bodies. For evening events and parties, a silky and more textured kaftan fabric is recommended. How To Make a Kaftan:

1. How many yards to make a kaftan? Naturally, this will be determined by your body type and height, however, the recommended quantity of fabric is 3 yards. In making your purchasing decision, you must determine your desired length, width (cinched waist or belted), and what kind of neckline is most flattering for your body type.

2. Where to purchase fabric for a kaftan? All four of Morocco’s imperial cities Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, and Tangier have medinas with shopping districts with kaftan shops that sell kaftan fabrics. It is fun to explore the fabric souk, touch the materials, and discover which ones you like best. Shopping in person also ensures that you can choose the color, style, and print pattern. The most common fabrics for a kaftan are cotton, chiffon, silk, and satin.

3. How long does it take for a kaftan to be made? Kaftans with embroidery can require a lot of work and therefore patience is needed. These detailed looks can take up to a few weeks to be made. You must also be properly fitted. Some tailors will offer international shipping upon completion.

4. Where can I get inspiration for my Kaftan look? As kaftans have become haute couture items, there are many fashion designers whose creativity will be a great source of inspiration. Among them are Dahab ben Aboud and Mohamed Lakhdar, both of who have taken the traditional kaftan and turned it into a more accessible and contemporary look. Their kaftans can be seen regularly in runway shows in both Morocco and Europe. Similarly, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Beyonce, and Uma Thurman have appeared in red carpet events wearing a kaftan style g

Moroccan-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

5. Where can I find Sfifa (embroidery) inspiration for my kaftan?Sfifa is a traditional Moroccan craft that can be seen on certain textiles and fabrics. Unfortunately, it is dying out in Morocco. but certain designers are working to keep it alive. Morocco’s Fadila el Gadi opened up the Ecole Broderie in Sale-Rabat to teach underprivileged children the lost art of stitchery. Recently Ivanka Trump asked El Gadi to design her an embroidered jacket for her November 2019 visit to Morocco.

6. What is the best way to accessorize a kaftan look? Moroccan women pair their kaftans with gold or silver heels, sparkly earrings, and a glamorous makeup look.

7. Can I rent a kaftan? If you are in Morocco and want to experience wearing a kaftan without purchasing one, there are kaftan rental shops that offer a wide selection of choices. Depending on the look and detailing of the kaftan, they cost between $5-40 USD to rent for one or two days.

Is a Kaftan the same as a djellaba? Sometimes people confuse these two words because both garments are long and can be used as a cover-up. However, they are worn in different contexts and have different histories and styles. Furthermore, a djellaba has a hood whereas a kaftan does not. Djellabas are traditionally worn by Berber or Amazigh men living in the Atlas Mountains and they are made from wool. Today it is possible to see lightweight cotton djellabas in different colors worn by Moroccan men and women in the medina.

Hillary-Clinton-in-Moroccan-Kaftan-Morocco-Travel-Blog

There are several different styles of kaftans. They range from the most basic cotton pieces for lounging or visits with friends to extravagant gowns with unique embroidery. Furthermore, different regions and districts of Morocco have their own kaftan styles. In Rabat, a key feature of kaftans is their colorful threads, floral designs, leaves, and elaborate stitching. Kaftans in Meknes and Fes are patterned with geometric shapes like squares, triangles, and straight lines. These different modes are the result of Morocco’s melting pot history. The kingdom is indigenously Berber but has been invaded and resided in by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and even the Ottomans who captured Fes in 1554. Before the Kaftan ever came to Andalusia it was worn by the Ottoman sultans. The dominating Ottomans' presence was felt worldwide for centuries. As a result, kaftans have been a long source of inspiration for designers everywhere. Notably, Lebanese Haute Couture designer Elie Saab and the iconic Yves Saint Laurent have created many collections inspired by the Middle Eastern-North African look. Marrakech’s Yves Saint Laurent Museum even has a dedicated collection of Laurent's kaftan dresses. Travelers to Morocco are often impressed with the beautiful robes they see in the YSL museum and in the souks, and they wish to take a dress home with them. Luckily, due to the popular evolution of the Kaftan it is a fun piece to shop. You can buy them in Marrakech concept stores like 33 Rue Majorelle, Max & Jan, Kaftan Queen, or at Norya Ayron. If you have time, it is also possible to go fabric shopping and commission a local Moroccan tailor to hand-make your kaftan.

Moroccan-Kaftan-Hand-made-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Our FAQ Kaftan Guide Make Your Own Kaftan (Caftan) In determining what kind of kaftan is right for you, it is important to consider where you will wear your kaftan. Some kaftan materials are made from easy and light fabrics. These include cotton or chiffon silk and best for casual situations like relaxing at your home or meeting a friend in the medina. Morocco has a hot desert climate so women enjoy dressing in casual kaftans to feel at ease and cool down their bodies. For evening events and parties, a silky and more textured kaftan fabric is recommended.

How To Make a Kaftan:

1. How many yards to make a kaftan? Naturally, this will be determined by your body type and height, however, the recommended quantity of fabric is 3 yards. In making your purchasing decision, you must determine your desired length, width (cinched waist or belted), and what kind of neckline is most flattering for your body type.

2. Where to purchase fabric for a kaftan? All four of Morocco’s imperial cities Marrakech, Rabat, Casablanca, and Tangier have medinas with shopping districts with kaftan shops that sell kaftan fabrics. It is fun to explore the fabric souk, touch the materials, and discover which ones you like best. Shopping in person also ensures that you can choose the color, style, and print pattern. The most common fabrics for a kaftan are cotton, chiffon, silk, and satin.

3. How long does it take for a kaftan to be made? Kaftans with embroidery can require a lot of work and therefore patience is needed. These detailed looks can take up to a few weeks to be made. You must also be properly fitted. Some tailors will offer international shipping upon completion.

4. Where can I get inspiration for my Kaftan look? As kaftans have become haute couture items, there are many fashion designers whose creativity will be a great source of inspiration. Among them are Dahab ben Aboud and Mohamed Lakhdar, both of who have taken the traditional kaftan and turned it into a more accessible and contemporary look. Their kaftans can be seen regularly in runway shows in both Morocco and Europe. Similarly, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Beyonce, and Uma Thurman have appeared in red carpet events wearing a kaftan style gown

Moroccan-Sfifa-Morocco-Travel-Blog

5. Where can I find Sfifa (embroidery) inspiration for my kaftan? Sfifa is a traditional Moroccan craft that can be seen on certain textiles and fabrics. Unfortunately, it is dying out in Morocco. but certain designers are working to keep it alive. Morocco’s Fadila el Gadi opened up the Ecole Broderie in Sale-Rabat to teach underprivileged children the lost art of stitchery. Recently Ivanka Trump asked El Gadi to design her an embroidered jacket for her November 2019 visit to Morocco.

6. What is the best way to accessorize a kaftan look? Moroccan women pair their kaftans with gold or silver heels, sparkly earrings, and a glamorous makeup look.

7. Can I rent a kaftan? If you are in Morocco and want to experience wearing a kaftan without purchasing one, there are kaftan rental shops that offer a wide selection of choices. Depending on the look and detailing of the kaftan, they cost between $5-40 USD to rent for one or two days.

Is a Kaftan the same as a djellaba? Sometimes people confuse these two words because both garments are long and can be used as a cover-up. However, they are worn in different contexts and have different histories and styles. Furthermore, a djellaba has a hood whereas a kaftan does not. Djellabas are traditionally worn by Berber or Amazigh men living in the Atlas Mountains and they are made from wool. Today it is possible to see lightweight cotton djellabas in different colors worn by Moroccan men and women in the medina.

Morocco Discovery Tour, A Moroccan Jewish Odyssey

Posted by Alecia Cohen on November 2, 2018 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (27)

Moroccan Jewish Odyssey Tour, Fes Cemetery Morocco’s unique history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs are a key factor in why Morocco is a safe today and continues to be a perfect choice for travelers interested in discovering Morocco's rich Jewish Heritage. The cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco reflects its historic vantage point as a gateway to Europe and the world. Moarocco’s Jewish Heritage sites and holy spaces offer visitors an encounter with ancient traditions, old world customs, architecture, monuments and sites that have permeated Moroccan society for centuries.

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Lazema Synagogue, Marrakech For couples and families interested in traveling to Morocco for an educational cultural vacation we recommend our Moroccan Jewish Odyssey Tour. On a Moroccan Jewish Odyssey tour you can expect to experience dramatic contrasts they encounter Morocco's Jewish Heritage sites in the Imperial Cities and magnficient landscapes as you cross the High Atlas region. This once-in-a- lifetime comprehensive Jewish Cultural Tour will take you on a journey to unexpectd places. Explore sacred Jewish sites in Medieval ciites, hear Stories of the Mellah, Discover the Roman Ruins of Volubilis and an endless Sahara Desert. On this Moroccan Jewish Odyssey Tour you will visit colorful souks, Kasbahs and ksars and Sip Tea with a Berber family who has historic Jewish roots.

Ibn Danan Synagogue, Fes Travelers on a Moroccan Jewish Odyssey tour will disocver sacred Jewish sites in Medieval ciites, hear Stories of the Mellah, visit the Roman Ruins of Volubilis and traverse an endless Sahara Desert. On this Moroccan Jewish Odyssey Tour you will visit colorful souks, Kasbahs and ksars and Sip Tea with a Berber family who has historic Jewish roots. Travel Exploation's Guided Jewish Hertiage Tours offer an insiders experience for travelers to engage with the local Jewish community, experience the remarkable and traverse the country from the mountains to sea coast.

MOROCCAN JEWISH ODYSSEY TOUR - TRIP HIGHLIGHTS - 11 DAYS

► Visit Temple Beth- El Synagogue & Explore Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca

► Discover the Jewish Mellah of Rabat & birthplace of an 18th Century scholar and Kabbalist in Sale

► Attend Shabbat Services a in Fes ► Dinner at a Rabbi’s Home or Kosher Restaurant

► Witness a private exterior view of the former home of Maimonidies in Fes

► Afternoon Excursion to Seffrou once referred to as the “Little Jerusalem”

► Up Close Meeting with Local Jewish Community in Morocco

► Historic Sites of Jewish Heritage in Fes, Meknes, Seffrou and Marrakech

► Overnight in the Sahara Desert under the Morocan Stars ► Discover the province of Tinerhir and it’s rare Jewish past ► Visit Tiliit the 15th Century ancient city of Jews in the Dades Valley region

► Explore Coastal Essaouira, an artist enclave and one of the first Jewish Ports in Morocco

► Visit the Tomb of Rabbi Shlomo & the Setti Fatima 7 Waterfalls in the Ourika Valley

► Stays at the Best Boutique Riads and Hotels in Morocco

For more information about Moroccan Jewish Heritage Tours  Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Art Deco Gueliz, Architectural Walking Tours

Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 11, 2018 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (26)

Cine-Palace, Gueliz

A great way to discover the Moroccan city of Marrakech is through a Guided walking tour of its Art Deco Architecture in the new city of Gueliz. You can spend an afternoon gallery hopping, shopping at designer boutiques and eat your way through Marrakech's, trendsetting new town. As one of the most sought-after Colonial cities in Morocco, Gueliz is all the rave. Morocco’s Colonial history and the beginning of Art Deco Gueliz dates back to 1912 when an agreement was signed with France, called “Protectorat.” A French army general and colonial administrator named Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey had the vision to modernize Morocco with the preservation of its cultural traditions and local customs. Lyautey created the Ville Nouvelle (new town) Gueliz, originating from the French word Église, which means church. Gueliz was the first town to be built outside the Marrakech medina with views of the Atlas Mountains and a referendum requiring no building to stand beyond 3 stories high or the equivalent of a palm tree.

Avenue Mohammed V (Former avenue Mangin 1930) Gueliz

First built as a military camp, Gueliz was small and occupied primarily by the French. This French quarter grew rapidly and architects embraced Parisian Art Deco by creating large avenues, bustling cafes and theatres, along with charming villas and a central market. Gueliz was designed by French architect, Henri Prost. Its original main tree-lined avenue was called Avenue de France. Today Avenue de France has been renamed Boulevard Mohammed VI and is filled with modern office buildings, banks, boutiques that are surrounded by magnificent Art Deco facades that remain from the city’s colonial past. Travelers and locals frequent Boulevard Mohammed VI for evening walks and picnics, sipping Moroccan tea at its sprawling cafes on sunlit terraces and to shop at luxury boutiques as they take in the glorious flora and fauna in full bloom year round. One of the Art Deco highlights of Gueliz is the Church of Holy Saints-Martyrs, built in 1928 and inaugurated in December 1931. It was also designed by the architect and urban planner French Henri Prost and commission Marshal Lyautey,

Le Petit Cornichon, Gueliz, Marrakech

Art Deco Guide to Gueliz, Marrakech's Trend-Setting New Town- Art Deco Buildings,  Art, Shopping & Eating

A city that has long been the home of jet-setters, fashion designers, hippies and artists, today, Gueliz is all the rave. Bustling with chic restaurants and celebrity chefs, designer boutiques, concept stores and art galleries, Gueliz is one of Morocco’s most sought-after city's for its nightlife, shopping and Art Deco facades.

What to See: Art Deco Facades, Sites & Gardens Gueliz Church of Holy Saints-Martyrs - Built in 1928, designed by the architect and urban planner French Henri Prost this was the only church in Gueliz at the time. Cine-Palace - Built in 1926, this cinema is a replica of  Cinema Eden in La Ciota France. Dilapidated it's charming facade and open air theatre, in ruin,  is a memory of an Art Deco past.

The Villa Bel Air - Located on the Avenue Hassan II, is one of the few villas in Gueliz that has not been affected by new construction.

Comptoir des Mines Galerie – Founded by Art Holding Morocco, this new gallery is a contemporary art space located in an Art Deco building that was once a mining company. Recently renovated into an Art Gallery, Comptoir de Mines features Contemporary Moroccan Art.

Comptoir des Mines Galerie – Founded by Art Holding Morocco, this new, chic gallerie is a contemporary art space located in an Art Deco building that was once a mining company. Recently renovated into an Art Gallery, Comptoir de Mines features Contemporary Moroccan Art.

Jardin Majorelle - This is the former Art Deco home, with Moorish charm, of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. It houses a fashion designer’s collection of decorative arts and artworks by Jack Majorelle with rotating exhibitions. The Majorelle Gardens has burbling streams and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers and is painted with vibrant primary colors, with an intense blue the Jacque Majorelle saw in the Atlas Mountains.

The Renaissance Hotel - Located in Gueliz The Renaissance is a Marrakech institution. This historic hotel was built by the French architect, Henri Prost. The hotel has preserved its façade which was built in 1952.

La Mamounia Hotel & Gardens- Perfect for afternoon tea, sunset cocktails or pool lunch, this Art Deco historic hotel  is where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the movie The Birds. It is situated on the edge of the walls of the old city of Marrakech and is named for its 200-year-old gardens, which were given as an 18th Century wedding gift to Prince Moulay Mamoun by his father.

Jnane El Harti (Harti Gardens) - A creation of the urban garden Jnane El Harti dates back to the end of the 1930s.  Translated as "janân al-harthî", which means, "Gardens of my plowed earth" this garden was originally created to produce food. The current Jnane El Harti occupies six hectares is decorated with wooden benches and maintains a sprawling cactus garden, a restaurant with views of the garden and a sports hall. Perfectly representative of East and West, the Harti Gardens is a mixed space of Mediterranean vegetation with olive, citrus and ficus surrounded by European lawns, shrubs, palms and cactus.

Where to Shop in Gueliz: Designer Boutiques & Concept Stores 33 Majorelle -
  With two levels of design, fashion and accessories created by Moroccan and international designers, as well as the traditional Moroccan goodies like the green pottery from southern Morocco and a selection of funky babouche, this is the shop for trendy souvenirs and gifts. Like a high-end department store, new designers are exposed with a collection hanging regularly, giving this concept store the leading edge on the latest trends. A small gallery is attached and features a changing art exhibit. The location is perfect – across from Majorelle Gardens. 
Address: 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent

Majorelle Gardens Boutique -
 Easy to find and with a friendly owner Toufik, this is one of the best up-market boutiques for fine Moroccan fashion with a Western twist. Using the finest silks, Toufik creates a stunning collection of kaftans, velvet vests, and cotton tunics are part of the collection that changes regularly. But if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, custom orders are possible and take up to two weeks.
Address: 9-11 Soukiat Laksour

MOOR
  - Owned by fashion designer Yann Dobry of Akbar Delights in the medina, Moor features a selection of upscale Moroccan couture. Using the finest artisans and materials, Moor is known for its embroidered silk, cotton and linen tunics. The cool and calm colors throughout the shop create a relaxed shopping experience. Look up or even just on the walls – the décor, a selection of Moroccan home wares sourced from around the Kingdom, is also available! 
Address: 7 Rue des Vieux Marrakchis , Guéliz

Yahya Creation 
-  If the patterns created by Moroccan lampshades and lanterns peak your interest in taking a fine lantern or lampshade home with you, be sure to stop by Yahya Rouach’s showroom. Clients including Harrods and Neiman Marcus have been known to stop by to commission orders. Yahya’s pieces are unique and one-of-a-kind. His pieces light up various areas of the Royal
 Mansour hotel and other boutique raids in Marrakech.  
Address: 49 passage Ghandouri, Rue de Yougoslavie, Guéliz

Where to Eat in Gueliz: Trend-Setting Restaurants & Classic Art Deco Cafe's Grand Cafe La Poste  - Gueliz's chic Brasserie which has kept the charm of the time Liautey is part of the history of Marrakech. La Poste has a 1930's ambiance with a grand staircase and cozy upstairs large nook with a fireplace along with chic dark spaces reminiscent of the days at Parisian literary cafes. This traditional Brasserie's menu makes it perfect place for brunch, cocktails or an evening meal. Address: Avenue Imam Malik, Gueliz

Le Petit Cornichon - A one-of-a-kind bistronomique culinary experience in the heart of Gueliz with an excellent wine list. The menu is lovingly created by resident manager, Erwann Lance. Lance has several Michelin restaurants in Paris and New York. He also the former head of dining at the Royal Mansour, in Marrakech. Le Petit Cornichon is one of the hottest tables in town and serves up some of Marrakech's most delightful French cuisine with a twist. Each dish is full of local flavor and stylishly presented on plate. The weekend's three-course tasting menu including fois gras is a must. The wine list offers local Moroccan wine traditionally not found in other restaurants along with a large selection of exceptional international wines. Address: 27, Rue Moulay Ali, Gueliz

Baromètre Marrakech - A new chic address in Gueliz, Baromètre is a type of underground culinary lab where Mediterranean fusion tapas and contemporary fare are served alongside exotic cocktails. The food is beyond delicious therefore make sure to leave space for more the one dish.  Be prepared for a speakeasy, mysterious atmosphere that is perfect for the food enthusiast.  Address: Rue Moulay Ali Gueliz | Résidence Al houda, Gueliz

Cafe Les Negociant - A landmark cafe in the center of Gueliz. Built in 1919, this is one of the city's historic "man cafe's" and a meeting place for a morning traditional Moroccan nous-nous or mint tea.  Cafe Les Negociant has been refurbished in keeping with it's Art Deco architecture. Address: 110 Mohammed V, Gueliz

Pâtisserie Amandine - Perfect for a late afternoon hot chocolate or cappuccino. Amandine offers  wide range of French pastries, Moroccan cookies and one of the best mille-feuille in town. It's macarons in rainbow colors, zesty lemon tarts and delightful, raspberry panna cotta pots should be on every foodie's bucketlist. Address: 177 Rue Mohammed Al Béqal, Gueiz

For More Information about Gueliz Art Deco or visit my Instagram Feed

Marrakech's Top Rated Museums & Palaces, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on December 26, 2016 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (9)

Marrakech is home to several magnificent, must see Palaces located in the historic district, also referred to as the medina. When visiting Marrakech on a Private Tour to Morocco these Top Rated Palaces are historically significant and offer a window into the former lives of royalty who built and managed these century old lavish homes. The palaces of Marrakech are essentially riads (courtyard homes) based upon the concept of Roman villas with lush interior courtyards, ornate architecture, hand crafted cedar wood and painted ceilings and succulent gardens. Marrakech's palaces are typically surrounded by walls given this was a tradition of protection and to prevent those passing by from seeing inside. Many of the Marrakech palaces and riads have been been transformed into boutique hotels and guest houses. Several of the palaces such as the Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace, Dar Si Said Palace, are historic landmarks, that have remained open to the public as to visit on a Guided tour of Marrakech. These palaces are also used by art organizations such as the Marrakech Bienalle and the Marrakech International Film Festival for both public and private events.  

Bahia Palace

The Bahia Palace was built at the end of 19th century by Si Moussa, grand vizier to the sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abderahmane 1859 -1873, as his personal residence. The work on the palace was continued by his son Ba Ahmed who was grand vizier to Sultan Moulay Hassan and the powerful regent to the young sultan, Abdel Aziz. They brought craftsmen from Fes who created carved and painted and guided wooden ceilings and reception rooms and numerous courtyards. The haphazard warren of rooms is partly due the growing number of official wives and concubines with their children. The most imposing feature is the vast courtyard used for official occasions and decorated with a central basin. It leads onto to gardens and palm trees. When Ba Ahmed died all his possessions were seized by the sultan and the palace is completely empty of fixtures and fittings. The Bahia has an imposing entrance through the main gate, which is just up from the Jewish Mellah. It was the headquarters of the French military during the French Protectorate and the American novelist Edith Wharton stayed there as a guest of Marshal Lyautey in 1917. The Royal family still uses the Bahia palace for official occasions.

Ben Youssef Medersa

Visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa, an Islamic college in Marrakech, Morocco, named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (reigned 1106–1142), who expanded the city and its influence considerably. It is the largest Medrasa in all of Morocco.The college was founded during the period of the Marinid (14th century) by the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hassan and allied to the neighbouring Ben Youssef Mosque. The building of the madrasa was re-constructed by the Saadian Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557–1574). In 1565 the works ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib were finished, as confirmed by the inscription in the prayer room. Closed down in 1960, the building was refurbished and reopened to the public as a historical site in 1982.

 

El Badi Palace The El Badi Palace was built in the 16th century by the Saadian Sultan Ahmad al-Mansour following his victory over the Portuguese at the battle of the three Kings in 1578. This epoch making event changed the course of history as King Sebastian of Portugal and his allies were defeated and Portugal never again held sway in Morocco apart from a few costal outlets like El Jadida, Essaouira and Azemmour. The Sultanate of Morocco was at the pinnacle of its power. Portuguese ransoms and captured booty as well as Sub Saharan African gold and the sugar trade paid for the construction of the palace. Sultan Ahmad al-Mansour died shortly after the El Badi’s completion in 1603. He had asked his court jester what he thought of his palace and the jester replied that it would make a fine ruin. By 1690 this came to pass, as Sultan Moulay Ismail stripped the El Badi completely to adorn his palace in Meknes. What you see today is a mere shell but it does give a sense of the massive proportions involved along with sunken gardens and dungeons. As so often in Moroccan history buildings were destroyed by conquerors or successors building their own stately palaces. There are fine views from the towers of the Medina and the Atlas mountains. Storks nest on the ramparts as they do along the high walls of the Royal Palace adjoining it. The Marrakech Folklore Festival Son et Lumiere with Berber dances and music takes place in July in the grounds of the El Badi and its huge ramparts and walls provide an imposing historical venue. The El Badi Palace has a museum and exhibits of which includes and a 12th-century minbar that once stood inside the Marrakech Koutoubia Mosque. The Royal Palace, whose high walls and gates follow on from the El Badi, is also known as Dar el-Makhzen, is part of the imperial grandeur of Marrakech. It was built on the site of the Almohad Kasbah, by the Almohads in the 12th century and underwent changes by the Saadians in the 16th century and the Alaouites in the 17th century. It was one of the palaces owned by the Moroccan king, and the palace employed the most accomplished craftsmen in the city. The rooms are large, with unusually high ceilings for Marrakech, with zellij and cedar painted ceilings. At the entrance is an ancient pulley fastened to the ceiling.

Dar Si Said Palace & Museum of Moroccan Arts

Dar Si Said, also known as the Museum of Moroccan Arts, is located to the north of the Bahia Palace, right from the Rue Riad Ziroun el-Jedid. It was formerly the house of the brother of Bou-Ahmed, Sisi Said. The collection of the museum is considered to be one of the finest in Morocco, with jewelry from the High Atlas, the Anti Atlas and the extreme south; carpets from the Haouz and the High Atlas; oil lamps from Taroudant; blue pottery from Safi and green pottery from Tamgroute and leatherwork from Marrakesh. There is also a fine small garden laid out in classic Moroccan style but the glory of Dar Said is the carved and painted ceilings on the top floor which are the finest example of painted ceilings in Marrakech. Some of the wooden screens and frames were recovered from the El Badi palace. Today in the Middle East, Moroccan craftsmen are sought after as creators of Moroccan carved and painted ceilings in palaces and corporate headquarters. Their craftsmanship was displayed in the New York Metropolitan Museum exhibition “The Moroccan Court” in New York in 2011 and in the following year at the Shangri-La residence in Honolulu as part of a promotion for Moroccan business and cultural exchange between Morocco and Honolulu.



Dar Menebhi Palace The Dar Menebhi Palace close to the Medersa Ben Youssef was built at the end of the 19th century by Mehdi Menebhi. The palace was carefully restored by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation and converted into a museum in 1997. The house itself represents an example of classical Andalusian architecture, with fountains in the central courtyard, traditional seating areas, a hammam and intricate zellij tile work and carvings. The museum’s large atrium (originally a courtyard, now covered in glass and fabric) contains a very large centrally hung chandelier consisting of metal plates decorated with fine geometric and epigraphic cuttings. Several features of the original courtyard, including the floor-set basins and mosaics have been retained. The museum holds exhibits of both modern and traditional Moroccan art together with fine examples of pottery and ceramics from Fes and Moroccan Jewish, Berber and Arab cultures.   Dar El Bacha The Dar El Bacha on the Rue Bab Doukala was the palace of the Pacha of Marrakech, Thami El Glaoui, who was Pacha from 1912-1956. He entertained the cream of western high society with parties at Dar El Bacha with Winston Churchill, Colette, Maurice Ravel, Charlie Chaplin and many others. As he collaborated with the French protectorate and contrived to remove Sultan Mohamed V into exile in Madagascar, he was and remains, unpopular to this day. Although Sultan and later King Mohamed V forgave him on his return from exile, all Thami’s properties were confiscated after his death in 1956. The Dar El Bacha is now a Royal Palace and a trade union federation occupies part of its imposing edifice. It was rumored that a museum was to open there but nothing has transpired. Many would like to visit this palace but it remains closed.

For more information about Marrakech's Palaces on a Guided Tour Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.
Travel Exploration Morocco donates 5% of our proceeds to Berber Villages through our charity organization called Project Feed. We are an ASTA approved travel agency and has won several accolades for our travel expertise.

The History of Jewish Fes on a Jewish Heritage Tours

Posted by Alecia Cohen on October 17, 2016 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (2)

View of Fes Medina & Jewish Mellah

The city of Fes, Morocco is a historic landmark and must see for those interested in Moroccan Jewish Heritage. On a guided Jewish Heritage Tour of Fes the magnetic culture of Moroccan Jewery will be revealed through the eyes of a local expert. Fes is the oldest contiguous free, working medina in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of Moroccan Jewery of Fes is fascinating and engaging. Stories of the Fes Jewish Mellah are those of co-existence, culture, love and prosperity along with alienation which was followed by a severe population decline once Israel became a state.

Jews of Fes

On a guided Jewish Heritage Tour of Fes you will learn about the roots of Moroccan Jews and how a population that once reached 300,000 + gradually disappeared. You will go beyond what is written in guidebooks and history books to hear an insiders perspective about co-existence between Moroccan Arabs and Moroccan Jews, that once described the livelyhood of the Jewish Fes pre and post World War II. As recent as the 1940's there were still over 200,000 Jews in Morocco with the majority of the population residing in Fes.

The Moroccan city of Fes lays claim to once having the largest Jewish community in the entire Muslim world however fewer then 2500 remain in the country today. Those few are primarily living within a close knit community with their extended family in the Imperial city of Casablanca. Casablanca's Jewish community and culture remains small yet vibrant. The city of Casablanca has several working synaogogues, a community center, kosher butchers, kosher restaruants and is home to the Museum of Moroccan Judaism, lauded for being the only Jewish Museum in the Muslim world today.

Jewish Mellah of Fes 

The historic presence of Jewish Morocco runs through the veins of the country. The former Jewish population built synagogues, cemeteries, shrines and created prosperity and wealth within the Mellahs. The Jews of Fes were leaders in trade, the garment business, experts in agriculture and jewelry designers. Moroccan Jews for example were the creators of the ancient tradition of filagree jewelry made using gold and silver. This particular Moroccan tradition uses metalwork made with tiny threads that are twised together to form intricate and beautiful designs. Filagree jewelry often featured the Star of David, chamsas and other ornate symbols.

Although the Jews of Fes were confined to living in the walled Mellah it was done so for their protection and to the benefit of both royalty and the government. The Jewish Mellah of Fes and the mellahs in other Moroccan cities were located close to the Royal palace and the governor's residence. Many Jews were consultants for the King and also the government making their level of contribution and importance to Moroccan culture and society exceptional.

Since the exodus of Moroccan Jews when Israel became a state, many in Morocco claim the economy changed drastically as they took with them a great skillset, once shared with their Muslim breathren. While the Jews left land, shrines, cuisine traditions and businesses, among other riches, the Moroccan economy never recovered from the particular labor trends that helped maintain and enrich the country that were associated with the Jewish community.

In the North of Morocco, the city of of Tangier and the blue washed mountain town of Chefchaouen, once had a prominent community of Spanish Jews that resided there. Jews emigranted to Morocco during the Inquisition. Today there there are Moroccan, Jewish Heritage Sites in Casablanca, Marrakech, Zaogra, the Skoura palmeraie, Coastal Essaouira, the Ourika Valley and Ourigane National Park.

Most prominent though is the impact the Jewish community made within the social character of Fes.

Ibn Danan Synagogue, Fes

FES JEWISH HERITAGE TOUR - MOROCCO PRIVATE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Visit Ibn Danan Synagogue, a 17th Century Jewish landmark, Talmud Torah Synagogue, Talmud Torah and El Fassiyeen

Explore the Jewish Cemetery Museum and the Tomb of Solica

The Royal Palace and Stories of the Jewish Mellah The home of Maimonides and the Jewish Community Center Dinner at a Rabbi’s Home or Kosher Restaurant

Meet the Local Fes Jewish Community (Friday evenings)  

For more information about Jewish Heritage Tours of Fes 

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate 

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration  
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

  

How to Plan A Tailor Made Jewish Heritage Tour To Morocco

Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 2, 2016 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Essaouria Mellah, Morocco

Morocco’s history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs are a key factor in why Morocco is a perfect choice for Jewish Travelers to take a Jewish Heritage Tour today. The cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco reflects its historic vantage point as a gateway to Europe and the world. Morocco’s Jewish Heritage offers visitors an encounter with ancient historic traditions, customs, architecture, monuments and sites that have permeated Moroccan society for centuries. Visitng Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites will be a once in a lifetime experience so you will want to make it memorable. Planning a Tailor Made Jewish Heritage Tour requires doing some reserach and selecting a Morocco Travel Agent that specializeds in Jewish travel expeirences. 

Tips for Planning a Tailor Made Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour are:

#1: Where To Go in Morocco: Choosing which Jewish Heritage Tour to take in Morocco can be daunting. For this reason we recomend you decide first on the timeframe you have to travel for your Morocco holiday. Morocco is spread out and while the majority of Jewish Heritage sites are located in the Imperial Cities of Fes, Meknes and Mararkech there are magnficent Jewish historic sites worth seeing in Essaouira, Ourigane and Azan. Make Sure to Stay at Least 8 Days. The two options most travelers consider are either an 8-Day Imperial Cities Jewish Heritage Tour or a 10-Day Jewels of Jewish Heritage Tour. These are purely focused Jewish Heritage Sites and for those travelers interested in combining Moroccan historic and cultural sites along with a camel trek in the Sahara Desert, a longer Tailor Made Jewish Tour is recommended. 

Tomb of Solica, Fes Jewish Cemetery  T

Choosing which Jewish Heritage Tour to take in Morocco can be daunting. For this reason we recomend you decide first on the total timeframe you have to travel for your Morocco holiday. Morocco is spread out and while the majority of Jewish Heritage sites are located in the Imperial Cities of Fes, Meknes and Mararkech there are magnficent Jewish historic sites worth seeing in Essaouira, Ourigane and Azan. The two options most travelers consider are either an 8-Day Imperial Cities Jewish Heritage Tour or a 10-Day Jewels of Jewish Heritage Tour. These are purely focused on Jewish Heritage and for those travelers interested in combining cultural sites and a camel trek in the Sahara an 11-12 Day Tailor Made tour is then recommended. #2: Selecting a Jewish Travel Agent: The first step is to select an agent based in Morocco who has a deep Knowledge of both Moroccan and Jewish Hertiage. Consider Alecia Cohen. She is a Morocco travel designer and expert on Jewish Heritage. Alecia offers extensive personalized planning services for Jewish travelers interested in Morocco's historic sites which serve as a detailed guide for each traveler in discovering the best of Jewish Morocco. By learning about your individual interests, Alecia Cohen will make travel recommendations inclusive of cultural and educational activities that will create a lifetime memorable experience. Alecia Cohen will design your Jewish Heritage Tour step by step with you. She ensures that travelers to Morocco will have the opportunity to experience a real connection to the local Jewish commmunity, attend synagogue services, participate in private tours of Jewish sites and dine on Kosher and traditional Moroccan cuisine. As someone who lives, Morocco and has a passion for the people and the culture, Alecia Cohen guarantees Jewish travelers a unique tailor made Jewish Heritage tour itinerary that is stand out.

Expert National Guide, Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour

#3: How to Travel with the Experts: Local Historical Guides Verse National Jewish Historical Guide. There are two types of Historical Guides in Morocco, both authorized by the Ministry of Tourism that are a good fit for a Tailor made Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour. Local Licensed, Historical Guides: Morocco Jewish experts located in each city that have a license to host private couples, families and groups only in the city where they have obtained their license. National Licensed Guides: Morocco Jewish experts that have a National License and are authorized to tour the entire country of Morocco with private couples, families, and groups. #4: Kosher or Vegetarian Cuisine: As a Jewish traveler you have the option of a Kosher meals or Vegetarian cuisine depending on your level of strictness with kashrut. Kosher fare can be provided via private Jewish caterer where by you the cuisine will be delivered to your riad or hotel daily. A private Kosher Chef is also available at some hotels with advance arrangements. There is Kosher fare available at Kosher restaurants in Casablanca and Fes. The other offered is is Vegetarian cuisine which can be easily accommodated at all riads, hotels and restaurants.

Tinerhir, Berber Jewish Morocco T

#5: Where you will Stay - Accommodations at Boutique Riads & Hotels: Morocco is known for having some of the best boutique riads and hotels. Many offer an Arabian Nights sensibility. Riads are restored palace style accommodations with courtyards, fountains, lush gardens and traditional Moroccan tilework. Staying in the medinas at Boutique Riads (old cities) will allow better access to Jewish Heritage Sites. If you keep Shabbat then for some cities we will recommend staying in the ville nouvelle (new city) as this will enable you to be in closer walking distance to the Moroccan synagogues. #6: Travel Budget: Travel Exploration Morocco's Jewish Heritage Tour rates are based upon the itinerary we customize with you, the number of travelers and the complete Morocco Tour ameniteis such as a private driver, licensed expert historical guides, boutique accommodations, meals and other fees. For this reason pricing for Travel Exploration's Jewish Heritage tours can be obtained by contacting a us directly.

700 Year Old Azan Adobe Synagogue, Morocco

#7: Understanding the Jewish Heritage Sites & Moroccan Historic Sites Your Morocco Tour Will Include: The sites you will visit can be customized. For Jewish Heritage Tours they primiarly range from Synagogues to Cemeteries, Gardens, the old Mellahs along with Zaouias and Tombs in each Imperial City and the rural regions. Jewish Heritage Tours can be tailor made to include Moroccan historic sites of great important such as the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, the Mausolum of Kings and Kasbah Oudaya in Rabat, the Universities and Mosques of UNESCO Fes, the Majorelle Gardens and Souks of Marrakech, along with a visit to Berber Villages and a Camel Trek in the Sahara Desert. Some of the Jewish Heritage Sites you can anticipate visiting on a Tailor Made Jewish Heritage Tour are: Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca, Synagogue in Casablanca: Beth El, Synagogue in Meknes: Talmud Torah, Synagogues in Fes: Ibn Danen, Slat Alfassiyine, Synagogues in Marrakech: Slat Al Azama, Synagogue in Seffrou: Bet Em Habanim, The 700 Year Old Adobe Synagogue in Arazan, Synagogues in Essaoura: Slat Lkahal, Simon Attias, Synagogues in Tangier: Mishe Nahon, Jewish Mellahs in Meknes, Fes, Seffrou & Marrakech, Jewish Cemeteries in Fes, Marrakech & Essaouira

For more information about Planning a Tailor Made Jewish Heritage Tour to Morocco and Itinearies

 

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

 

 

 

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

 

 

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Fatima Mernissi, Legendary Moroccan Author & Feminist Dies at 75

Posted by Alecia Cohen on December 2, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Fatima Mernissi, Feminist Moroccan Author

Fatima Mernessi, Muslim Feminist Author and native of Morocco passed away in Rabat on November 30th, 2015. Mernissi was born in Fes, Morocco in 1940 and became known as one of the Arab world's leading literary authors who challenged the Islamic establishment by focusing on feminist issues along with human rights and democracy. A graduate of the Sorbonne University in Paris, her education was grounded in political science. Later she obtained her doctorate at Brandeis University.

Mernissi was a pioneer of her time. She researched and analyzed Islamic thought and the relation of succession to the Prophet Mohammed. As an Islamic feminist her goal was to facilitate ideas and an open discussion about women challenging their traditional roles along with its relation to the West. Mernissi returned to her native country of Morocco after receiving her doctorate and taught at the Faculté des Lettres on the subjects of sociology and psycosociology. She also worked on sociological research for UNESCO and the ILO. Deep comparisons between the East and West was the topic

Fatima Mernissi focused on most. Various interpretations of Islam, the Koran and the deconstruction of Islamic ideology on women permeated her written works. By questioning Islamic thought she attracted a following of young Muslim women and also Westerners.

In 2003 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award which was established by Felipe Prince of Asturias to encourage and promote scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind's universal heritage. Mernissi's best known works are Beyond the Veil, The Veil and the Male Elite, A Feminist Interpretation of Islam and Dreams of Tresspass. "Feminists, women and men alike: we stand on the shoulders of giants like Fatema Mernissi." - Laila Lalami, Moroccan American Author

Recommended Reading - Books by Fatima Mernissi:

Beyond the Veil The Veil and the Male Elite Dreams of Tresspass Tales of a Harem Girlhood Women & Islam Democracy & IslamSheherazade Goes West The Forgotten Queens of Islam Women's Rebellion & Islamic Memory  

For more information about Moroccan Books to Read, Authors and Fatima Mernissi

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We offer Private Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco, A Safe Place to Travel, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on November 29, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Morocco, A Safe Place to Travel

With its relative proximity to Europe and increasingly easy to access from international airports, Morocco has long attracted visitors from abroad. A large part of its charm is due to its historical significance as a cultural crossroads between Arabic, Middle-Eastern, African and European cultures and communities. Modern Morocco is developing fast and its cities rival any in Europe or North America for facilities, infrastructure and modern conveniences. In rural Morocco - in the plains, mountains and deserts - life continues as it has for centuries. This juxtaposition of traditional life and modernity, the familiar and the exotic, is as appealing today as when adventurers and discoverers passed through in bygone eras. The indigenous people of Morocco are the Berbers (also known as Amazigh, literally "free men"). They were the original inhabitants of the mountains and deserts. A little-known facet of Morocco’s history is where Berber and Jewish history and culture intertwine. There were several waves of Jewish immigration to North Africa, potentially beginning in the BCE period and certainly pre-dating the arrival of Islam from Arabia in the 7th century.

The result of such a long history of cohabitation and assimilation and integration of others' cultural practices has created a modern Moroccan population which - at up to 50% Berber (the remainder being by large majority of Arab descent) is resilient to external shocks and reluctant to upset the balance of closely-knit communities. As a result of this unique history and the careful political management by the constitutional monarch, King Mohammed VI, Morocco has not suffered the upheaval of Arab Spring-style uprisings, while its neighbors and allies have been shaken to the core. Tensions have been meticulously mitigated and complaints painstakingly investigated in order to avoid the social unrest which has rocked the region. The modern monarch has also taken time to cultivate productive relationships with key Western powers. The relationship with the EU, including on some contentious issues such as immigration, trade and international security, is closer than it has ever been.

The relationship with the USA is similar. Morocco was the first country to recognize US independence and - over 200 years later - Morocco remains a key ally in the strategic Middle East and North Africa region. These relationships and their importance to Moroccan economic and social stability are at least in part behind Morocco's strenuous efforts to tackle international terrorism and religious extremism.

]Keep Calm Travel to Morocco

Your national government will provide travel and security advice for visitors intending to visit Morocco. In general, the risk of international terrorism is no greater than in major cities of Europe or the US. Like in those cities, there is a risk of petty theft. Morocco is a developing country and the wealth gap between local people and tourists can drive a small minority to crime. Be sure to exercise the usual precautions on your visit regarding cash, jewelry and other valuables. Do not carry them around in large or visible quantities and make sure you are aware of the potential for pickpockets in crowds. Overall, Morocco is one of the safest countries in Africa or the Middle East and North Africa region. You will be welcomed with a smile and great hospitality by virtual strangers. Enjoy your trip!

For more information about Morocco, A Safe Place to Travel

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We offer Private Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Storytelling in Morocco, Preserving the Art of Hikayat

Posted by Alecia Cohen on June 23, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (10)

Storytellers of Morocco, Photograph by Soufiane Bouhali

Storytelling is experiencing a revival in many Western countries right now, but the tradition of oral storytelling, or hikayat, in Morocco is almost 1,000 years old. Morocco has a strongly oral culture - everything from recipes to stories to legal agreements have been passed down from generation to generation in the absence of the means to record such information and against the backdrop of widespread illiteracy. In the past, storytellers travelled around to perform in public places and at community events and palace celebrations. They were not only a form of entertainment - they were also used by the authorities to pass information and moral messages. In today's era of satellite TV and the internet, storytelling is a dying art. Although visitors to Marrakech may find the odd storyteller on Place Jmaa el Fna, the crowd around them is smaller than ever and because the stories are told in Arabic or a Berber dialect, the performers cannot attract the support of foreign tourists.  

Storytellers of Morocco


Today, Cafe Clock in the Kasbah district of Marrakech is the perhaps unlikely bastion of this oral tradition. Both the cross-cultural cafe, with modern graffiti on the walls and the best camel burger in town on the menu, and the storytelling program based there, were developed by Mike Richardson, the cafe's British owner. Since December 2013, even before the second branch of Cafe Clock officially opened its doors in Marrakech that March (the first is in Fez), a group of young, enthusiastic Moroccans had gravitated around master storyteller, 'Haj' Ahmed Ezzarghani. Since then, they have been working hard to preserve the storytelling tradition and bring the old stories and fables to a wider audience. Haj collected stories during his work as a travelling salesman and performed them in the turbulent 1950s outside Bab Boujloud in Fez. Haj meets with his young apprentices three times per week at Cafe Clock. At the first meeting, Haj recounts a story, which the apprentices translate into English and practice. The next time they meet, they perform the story in English and Arabic for the group. Haj doesn't understand much English, so the young storytellers help each other out and he critiques the theatricality of their performance. On the third meeting, they perform the story for the Cafe Clock audience.

Storytellers of Morocco Jawad ElBied

              There is a core of four apprentice storytellers, who are all students of English in Marrakech. Jawad Elbied, 24, is just finishing his English degree with a dissertation in Moroccan Storytelling. He says: "Storytelling has a special value in Moroccan society, but young kids today don't know the stories - they are only interested in the internet and YouTube. Haj reminds me of my grandfather and his generation. He reminds us of our origins." It is clear that storytelling has benefitted Jawad and his fellow apprentices. He speaks confidently and eloquently in English and twice a week he does so before a large crowd at Cafe Clock. Furthermore, through the Hikayat Program, which is in the process of becoming a non-profit association in Morocco, he has had the opportunity to travel around Morocco and even to Iran to share the stories and teach them to others. The storytellers have also appeared on the UK's Channel 4 and on Al Jazeera. "The value of stories is that they enable the audience to create their own film; to imagine the characters and the action in their own way," Jawad explains. "We need to reach out to new audiences by being creative and offering attractive stories." Through the association, the storytellers hope to use modern technology to diffuse the stories and record them for future generations. If you would like to hear the stories, they are performed on Monday and Thursday evenings at 7pm Cafe Clock Marrakech. As well hearing the apprentices in English, visitors also have the opportunity to see Haj in action. Even for those who don't understand Arabic, his performance is a piece of theatre, a relic of a bygone era brought to life and definitely worth seeing! The Storytelling Program has also been extended to Cafe Clock in Fez, where a group of apprentices works with a local master storyteller. The Hikayat Morocco group is also available for performances and workshops and can be contacted via Cafe Clock or via their own website Hikayat Morocco.

Recommended Reading: The Last Storytellers, Richard Hamilton

For more information about Storytelling at Café Clock Written by Lynn Sheppard  Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients. For more information about Storytelling in Morocco or the Art of Hikayat on a Marrakech Tour  Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
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