History of Morocco
Discover the ancient history of Morocco while you travel with tips from our experts.
The Berbers – a vast multilingual ethnic tribe indigenous to northern Africa – ruled Morocco through a series of dynasties. Some of the most historically significant ruins from this time can still be seen at Volubilis where there are remains from 3rd century AD of a Berber/Roman city and another site, Lixus, near the town of Larache. Morocco as we know it today began with the first major shift away from the centralized control of the Berbers.
With the Islamic conquest of the Maghreb state of Northern Africa in the 7th century AD, Arabic became the primary language and Islam the primary religion. Thereafter, Morocco’s Arabic heritage came to be forever entwined with the ancient indigenous tribal influence and traditions of the Berbers. This new Morocco is still evident today when you visit the likes of Fes el Bali in Fes; part of the old original city built under initial Islamic influence in the 8th century AD, is of huge cultural and historical importance.
Though Islamic dynasties came and went, Morocco was at its most powerful under the leadership of the Berber dynasties from 11th-16th century. During this time, a number of stunning historical buildings were commissioned and can still be viewed today under UNESCO protection; the unfinished Hassan Tower in Rabat of red sandstone, the incredibly recognizable blue buildings of Chefchaouen near Tangiers and the stunning Ben Youssef Madrasa College in Marrakech.
The current Moroccan royal family, the Alaouite family, came to power in 1666. Since 1864 they have resided at their Dar al-Makhzen palace in the capital Rabat, which is definitely worth a visit.
In the 19th century, France stepped tried to gain influence and power. By 1912, Morocco was lawfully declared as a dependent state of France and Spain. Steered by King Mohammed V, Morocco was declared fully independent under the 1956 agreement. From 1999, under King Mohammed VI, Morocco saw new legislation and modernization.
With the incredible year-round weather, the emergence of direct flights from all over Europe, and a boom in the activity and adventure sector, Morocco now sees more than 10 million tourists a year! There are historically important sites everywhere you look from the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech built in the 12th century to the ancient Kasbah of Tangiers. Morocco has a lot to offer and it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
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