Exploring the Northern Atlantic Region of Morocco
By Seif Kamel
The Forest of Ma’Moura
This forest, located in the area between Wadi Sebou and Wadi Regreg, has a length of 60 kilometers and 30 kilometers wide. Although most of the forest is nowadays planted with eucalyptus, a plant that grows faster than most other plants, many sections of the forest is still covered with cork oak that is cultivated for its bark.
Eucalyptus has many uses as it is turned into a pulp in a nearby factory and then it used in the manufacturing of paper and artificial silk cloths. Many tours in Morocco include a visit to some sections of the Northern Atlantic shores.
Unfortunately, the greenery and different plants of the forest have been exploited and degraded by sheep and cattle and it is getting more and more bare everyday.
However, there is enough greenery to grantee a nice walk in the shades during the hot summer days when wood pigeons, flycatchers, and kites can be viewed in many sections of the forest. This is why some Morocco travel tours may have a visit to this forest.
This coastal town was established in 1913 in the beginning of the French protectorate of Morocco. It was named Port Lyautey, after the first French governor of Morocco, in the period from 1933 till 1955.
Nowadays, Kenitra has many different districts and huge differences between a neighborhood and the other. There are sections of the town that are rich with European style villas and a developed city center and other sections consist mainly of poor suburbs. Kenitra receives a number of travelers who come to spend their holidays in Morocco.
The harbor of the town, located in the right bank of the Wadi Sebou, regional produce from the Rharb, such as citrus fruits, cork, serial, and cotton are unloaded from several ships to be used in the local industry of pepper.
Nowadays, Kenitra is one of the major agricultural sections of Morocco with a huge amount of rice, cotton, and sugar being cultivated every year.
Located 55 kilometers northeast of Rabat, the capital of Morocco, Thamusida is situated. The milestone reading 14 kilometers to Kenitra, there is the track road going west to reach this ancient site.
This historical city was inhabited by the Romans in the period from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD. The city used to have large fortified walls of which some sections can still be viewed. There is also the outline of an ancient Roman camp, with streets interacting at the right angle.
The northeast section of the town is still occupied by the ruins of Roman baths and a temple which still has three chambers that were used for different purposes. To the North, there are still some ruins of the vestiges of the harbor docks.
Rather isolated from the major highways, Larache has Arab and Andalusian origins. The modern section of the town actually shows signs of the Spanish protectorate.
The city was actually established in the 7th century by the Arab conquers and in the 11th century Larache became a major trading point between the left bank of Wadi Loukkos. This ancient site is included to many travel packages to Morocco.
During the 16th century, the city was used as a base by corsairs from Algeria and Turkey and it was controlled by the Portuguese at this period. Larache moved into the ruling of the Spanish in 1610 but Mawlai Ismail regained the Moroccan control over the city at the end of the 17th century.
The medina or the old city is reached from Place de la Liberation, a Spanish plaza and through the gate of Bab El Khemis, a tiled huge entrance door made out of mud bricks.
The town has a flourishing fabrics market that sells a wide variety of goods. Many wide streets lined with colorful European and Arabic decorations lead to the harbor of the city. These antiquities attract many tourists who travel to Morocco to explore these sections of the city.
One of the landmarks of the city is the gate of Bab Al Kasbah that separates the Southern section of the fabrics market from the historical section that starts off with a large street this full of arches that leads to the famous minaret of the city.
Storks Castle, located not far away from Lixus, is a historical fortress built in 1578 by the Saadis rulers and it was afterwards occupied by the Spanish in the 17th century.
It would be amazing to move around the seafront in Larache, It is like a huge balcony to the Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards, a good idea is to have a visit to the Moorish market located nearby. Many Morocco private tours would be customized to include a visit to this area.
The city also hosts a Catholic cemetery that has the body of Jean Genet, a French writer that lived from 1910 till 1986, is situated near the sea shores.
Mawlai Bou Salem
The small city of Mawlai Bou Salem located 48 kilometers to the South of Larache, is one of the most popular summer resorts among the Moroccans.
The city got its name from the mosque and tomb of Mawlai Bou Salem, a holy man who lived in the 10th century that has become a major pilgrimage site attracting many followers in the end of June and the beginning of July. Some travelers who spend their vacation in Morocco would visit Bou Salem at this period of the year to view the cultural aspects of this area.
The story of the life of Bou Salem is always associated with the ocean and its pearls. The Sandbar of Bou Salem is actually dangerous as the waves coming crush with the coral reef beaches.
The water at the lagoon is calm and many boat trips are organized to watch the thousands of birds, including herons, pink flamingoes, and Sheldrake, who fly to the lagoon as part of their immigration in December and January.
Located five kilometers to the northeast of Larache, Lixus is an ancient site located on the Ocean shores that was added to the UNESCO human heritage sites.
One of the ancient Roman authors, Plinius, described the city of Lixus during the 7th century BC. He called the city the first Phoenician colonization in the West of the Mediterranean Sea.
In this period, during the 7th century, the Phoenicians have established a trading point here in Lixus serving as the stage on the historical Gold Rout. Lixus is nowadays a part of many interesting trips to Morocco.
In the period between 40 and 45 AD, the Romans has occupied the city, the same as many other regions in Morocco. Lixus has become a major center of the production of “Garum” sauce that was made out of fish and some sorts of different salts and meats.
Around the 3rd century AD, the Romans have left the city and the walls of the city took half of the residence area at the time.
The vats where the “Garum” used to be produced during the Roman times can still be viewed at the edges of the town. A tour of this ancient site is included in many tours to Morocco.
There is an acropolis located above the town has its own walls to protect it against any invaders in the past. Some sections of these walls and an ancient cistern were excavated. The Great Temple built in the 1st century Ad still preserves some of its ancient original features. This is the main reason many travelers visit Lixus as part of their trip to Morocco.