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Ancient ruins, sacred mosques, and storied cities

  • 04/23/2019 - 05/06/2019
  • 14 Days
  • Starting price $5,395

The Kingdom of Morocco invites encounters with ancient ruins and sacred mosques, endless desert and tranquil mountains, imposing kasbahs and spirited souks. Travel to seaside Rabat to tour the both historic and contemporary Moroccan capital. View famed UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Roman ruins at Volubilis and the Aït ben-Haddou village. Pass through the Middle Atlas Mountains and set out on a sunset camel excursion to Merzouga’s breathtaking sand dunes on the Sahara’s edge. Discover Casablanca, and see the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, the French-designed Habous Quarter, and the Royal Palace.

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Max guests - 24

Architectural highlights

  • Enjoy an exclusive visit to the new Studio KO-designed Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
  • Take in the medieval school of Bouanania, built by Sultan Abu Inan Faris between 1350-1355.
  • Visit the fortified Kasbah des Oudaias, built in the 12th century during the reign of the Almohad Caliphate.
  • Marvel at the spectacular example of Almohad architecture with its impressive Bab el Mansour gateway.
  • Enjoy visiting the the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania, Volubilis.
  • Explore the Chellah, the medieval fortified Muslim necropolis.
  • Discover Rissani’s striking architecture including its 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys.
  • Admire the uninhabited Aït ben-Haddou, one of southern Morocco’s most recognizable villages.
  • Visit the Grand Mosque of Hassan II, the world’s second largest Islamic house of worship, with a 656-foot minaret.

 

More highlights

  • Become mesmerized by the breadth and beauty of the Sahara Desert.
  • See the old Jewish quarter, the Mellah, and its 17th-century synagogue.
  • Explore UNESCO World Heritage site Meknes, Morocco’s youngest Imperial City.
  • Enjoy the labyrinthine medina, regarded as Morocco's cultural, spiritual, and intellectual heartland.
  • Shop the the city’s souks, including those of yarn dyers, wrought iron and lantern makers.
  • Learn the history of Morocco from prehistory to the Islamic period at the Museum of Moroccan History and Civilization.
  • This trip qualifies for 22 AIA learning units.

 

Accommodation(s)

Located in the commercial district, La Tour Hassan is near the Hassan Tower, the landscaped gardens of Chellah, and the Kasbah of the Oudaias. Featuring contemporary furnishings and sitting areas, the vibrant rooms and suites offer marble bathrooms, as well as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Hotel Sahrai is set in a stone-built, Moorish-style building. This luxurious, contemporary hotel is near the 17th-century Ibn Danan Synagogue and the Marinid Tombs. Amenities include a lounge bar, a rooftop terrace, and two elegant restaurants serving French and local cuisines. Le Palais du Désert Hotel offers views from its numerous towers overlooking the landscape and a glamorous pool. Le Berbere Palace is located in the Ouarzazate town centre, also known as the Moroccan Hollywood. This Berber-style hotel is near both the Cinema Museum and Taourirt Kasbah. Enjoy three restaurants offering Italian, buffet, and Moroccan-Asian food, and an elegant bar. Other amenities include an outdoor pool and a spa area with a sauna, a hammam, and a hot tub. Enjoy breathtaking views of the snow-capped Atlas mountains at Sofitel Marrakech. Nearby are the tranquil Menara Gardens. Inside the hotel is restaurant L’Orangerie, offering an irresistible medley of Moroccan and French cuisine. Hyatt Regency Casablanca is short distance from the Station marché central train station and the Hassan II Mosque. Amenities include two elegant restaurants, a brasserie, a poolside cafe, and a living room with a fireplace.

 

Also included

  • 12 nights accommodations in listed properties
  • 31 meals:  12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 11 dinners
  • An experienced Tour Director, in addition to the Architectural Adventures Educational Expert.
  • Entrance fees for all included visits
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Gratuities for local guides, bus drivers, porters, airport, hotel and restaurant staff
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person

 

What to expect

  • Appropriate for people in good health with overall good mobility
  • Traveler should be comfortable participating in a full day of sightseeing
  • Activities range from light to moderate intensity at an easy pace, but with lengthy walks, sometimes on uneven terrain, and climbing on stairs.

 

Price

  • Land only price: $5,395 per person, based on double occupancy
  • Air inclusive price:  $6,179 per person, based on double occupancy, from Boston, New York, or Washington, DC ($5,495 air & land inclusive plus $684 airline taxes and fees). Air inclusive pricing from other US departure cities available upon request
  • $1,395 single supplement
  • A deposit of $500 per person, payable by credit card or check is required to reserve a space
  • Deposits are applied to payment of the total price and the final payment is due by January 18, 2019

 

Not included

Airfare and air departure taxes and fees if purchasing a land-only package; airport transfers if purchasing a land-only package; passport and visa fees (if required); meals not specified in the itinerary; beverages not part of the included meals; personal items and expenses; gratuities to tour director, gratuities other than specified; travel and trip cancellation insurance; airline baggage fees and excess baggage fees; pre or post-tour extension; optional sightseeing; communication charges; other items not specifically mentioned in the itinerary or as included.

 

Prices, itinerary, accommodations and experts subject to change.

 

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Architectural Adventures tours are managed by professional tour operators retained as independent contractors by The American Institute of Architects. To read Architectural Adventures full Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer visit architecturaladventures.org/travel-terms. To read the tour-specific terms and conditions from our tour operator Odysseys Unlimited visit architecturaladventures.org/odysseys.  

 

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Itinerary

Overview

Begin your journey

Depart from your preferred airport and fly to Casablanca, Morocco
Overview

Arrive in Casablanca, Morocco

Arrive in Casablanca, Morocco’s chief port, economic capital, and largest city. After a transfer to Rabat, check in at the hotel near the famed Hassan Tower and enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.

Accommodations: La Tour Hassan
Meals: Dinner
Overview

Rabat, the imperial city

Capital of the French Protectorate of Morocco from 1912 to 1956, and Moroccan capital since gaining independence, and one of the four ancient capitals, or imperial cities, Rabat has a European elegance while maintaining an Islamic character. Visit the fortified Kasbah des Oudaias, built in the 12th century during the reign of the Almohad Caliphate. This area boasts signature blue and white buildings lining narrow streets, the beautiful Andalusian Gardens, and a wide plaza overlooking the mouth of the Bou Regreg River. Explore Chellah, the medieval fortified Muslim necropolis, and see the remnants of Sala Colonia, a Roman port abandoned in 1154. Learn about the history of Morocco from prehistory to the Islamic period at the Museum of Moroccan History and Civilization before crossing the river to Sale. Walk the halls of Rabat’s impressive new Mohammed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, one of fourteen museums of the National Foundation of Museums of Morocco.

Accommodations: La Tour Hassan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Sultan Moulay Ismail’s Meknes

Explore UNESCO World Heritage site Meknes, Morocco’s youngest Imperial City, whose construction was dominated by the Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of Morocco’s most powerful leaders. During his 55-year reign, the Sultan developed Meknes from a small town into a majestic capital with gigantic ramparts, monumental gates, more than 50 palaces, and 15 miles of exterior walls. See the spectacular example of Almohad architecture, the impressive Bab el Mansour gateway. Then we continue on to Volubilis, the largest of the Romans’ 17 colonies established in Morocco between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. Volubilis is commonly considered the ancient capital of the Roman-Berber kingdom of Mauretania. The excavated ruins here are particularly noted for their colorful mosaics.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Treasures of Fez

Known as the Athens of Africa for its wealth of cultural, educational, and religious institutions, Fez is the country’s oldest imperial capital. Walk in the medina to discover some hidden treasures, including the picturesque Blue Gate, also known as Bab Bou Jeloud, a triple-arched gate that uses Moorish architectural forms; the medieval school of Bouanania, built by Sultan Abu Inan Faris between 1350-1355; the 12th-century home of Jewish scholar Maimonides; and the authentic food market. Visit the quarter where Fez’s renowned pottery and ceramics makers create the complex blue-and-white geometric patterns of traditional bleu de Fez household and decorative objects. Tour the old Jewish quarter, the Mellah, and its 17th-century synagogue and the royal gates.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

A history of education in Fez

Explore the Museum of Fez before discovering the labyrinthine medina, regarded as Morocco's cultural, spiritual, and intellectual heartland. See the artisans’ quarters, the 14th-century Koranic schools, and Al Karaouine, the medieval theological university. The remainder of the afternoon is free for independent exploration or relaxation.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Overview

Travel to the gateway of the Sahara

Gaze at the breadth and beauty of the passing scenery of the Sahara Desert while traveling to Erfoud. Go through the fertile plains beyond Fez and continue through the Middle Atlas mountain range and its cedar forests. Keep a lookout for the local Barbary apes in their natural habitat. Cross the Ziz River, passing rows of sky-scraping palm trees and fortified villages before reaching the kasbah-style hotel on the outskirts of Erfoud. Built by the French as an oasis fort, Erfoud is now a sizable city and the gateway to the Sahara.

Accommodations: Le Palais du Désert Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Architecture of the Sahara

Visit the city of Rissani, the ancient capital of Tafilalet, which sits on the edge of the Sahara and formerly the last staging post on the southern caravan route. Once the seat of the Alawait dynasty, Rissani boasts some striking architecture with its 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys. Set out in a caravan of 4x4s for the breathtakingly beautiful dunes of Merzouga and watch the sun set over the desert while taking a camel ride along the erg.

Accommodations: Le Palais du Désert Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Route of a Thousand Kasbahs to Ouarzazate

Begin the journey to Ouarzazate, also known as the door of the desert, located in the snow topped High Atlas Mountains. Pass through Tinehir, a stunning mountain oasis rising on a series of lush riverside produce gardens accented by palm trees and dominated by ornate clay villages. Here, see the 984-foot Todra Gorge, home to a variety of rare plant and bird species. Discover El Kelaa des Mgouna, Morocco’s rose capital, before stepping back in time and traveling along the Route of a Thousand Kasbahs, a region of fortresses with elaborately decorated facades before arriving in Ouarzazate.

Accommodations: Le Berbere Palace
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Travel to fabled Marrakech

Arrive in the former imperial city Marrakech, with stops en route at uninhabited Aït ben-Haddou, one of southern Morocco’s most recognizable villages, seen in many fashion and film shoots. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the village’s old section consists of deep red kasbahs so tightly packed together they appear as a single building. During the descent from the High Atlas Mountains, pass through typical villages with fortified walls and stone houses with earthen roofs. In Tizi N’Tichka, traverse the Pass of the Pastures (alt. 7,415 feet), where life is much as it was centuries ago. Later in the afternoon, arrive in fabled Marrakech, an ancient intersection of Berber, African, Mediterranean, and Asian cultural and artistic influences. Considered Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city, Marrakech boasts a spectacular location surrounded by rich farmlands and high mountains.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overview

Marrakech, the city of art and culture

Marrakech, Morocco’s dominant center of art and culture, is the nation’s fourth largest city, with an exciting blend of modern architecture and an ancient walled medina. With a concentration on Old Marrakech, take in the incredible Koutoubia Mosque with its distinct 282-foot minaret, an architectural highlight visible from miles away; the 19th-century El Bahia Palace, designed with Andalusian influence; the fascinating harem quarter; and the ruins of the 360-room Palais El Badii, built in 1578 in the style of Granada’s Alhambra, lavishly decorated with Italian marble and gold. Explore the city’s souks, including those of yarn dyers, wrought iron and lantern makers, herbalists, and wood carvers and painters. Venture to Djemaa El Fna and discover the circus atmosphere full of snake charmers, storytellers, acrobats, and musicians.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overview

The natural beauty of Marrakech

Travel via horse-drawn carriage from Menara to the lush Majorelle Gardens, a botanical garden in the heart of the city. French artist Jacques Majorelle created this masterpiece, known for its cobalt blue accents, in 1924 during Morocco’s colonial period as a protectorate of France. Visit the recently renovated Berber Museum, located on the grounds of Majorelle Gardens. Majorelle beautifully captured the emotions, colors and spirit of the Berber culture. Items on display include traditional handcrafted items in leather, pottery, basketry and woodworking.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Overview

Explore Casablanca

Depart Marrakech this morning for storied Casablanca, Morocco’s largest and most sophisticated city, combining French and Moroccan influences. Tour the Grand Mosque of Hassan II, the world’s second largest Islamic house of worship, with a 656- foot minaret and a prayer hall three times the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A stunning architectural achievement, the mosque boasts an equally stunning setting on the banks of the Atlantic shoreline. It is also Morocco’s only functioning mosque that is open to non-Muslims. See the palatial interior with its polished marble floor, Venetian chandeliers, and Moorish arches with 70 cedar-paneled cupolas. Explore the classic highlights of Casablanca, including Notre Dame de Lourdes, a Catholic church boasting impressive stained glass. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate this Moroccan adventure.

Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Casablanca
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Overview

Depart Casablanca

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast
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