Jewish Heritage Tour of Morocco 13 nights
The Grand Tour of Morocco 14 days/13 nights
ITINERARY Day 1: Casablanca: Transfer arrival (35 km/22 mi)
Arrival to Casablanca, where you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel in the center of the dynamic economic capital of Morocco. Casablanca is home to the largest Jewish community in Morocco and has numerous congregations, active communal institutions, and many highly recommended kosher restaurants. Check-in, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 2: Casablanca-Rabat (100 km/63 mi) After breakfast; we will visit the famous Hassan II Mosque. Recently built, it is the largest in the world outside Mecca (the only Mosque can be visited by non Muslims), the Jewish community contributed to the construction of this mosque, which was inaugurated in 1994. Then we will visit the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) with its temples and synagogues such as Beth-El, the largest synagogue and an important community center, seating 500 persons. The Jewish cemetery in the mellah is open and quiet, with well-kept white stone markers in French, Hebrew and Spanish. After lunch at a local Casher Restaurant (or in a seafood restaurant), we will visit the Museum of Moroccan Judaism of Casablanca. It presents religious, ethnographic and artistic objects that demonstrate the history, religion, traditions and daily life of Jews in the context of Moroccan civilization. Departure to Rabat and continue on to Sale, the twin city of Rabat and the birthplace of Rabbi Hayyim Ben Moses Attar, the famous 18th century scholar and cabbalist, known throughout the Jewish world for his bible commentary, the "Or Ha-Hayyim", the famous rabbi, Raphael Encaoua is buried in the Sale cemetery, Return to Rabat for dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 3: Rabat – Tangier (298 km/ 185 mi) Breakfast. Begin the day with a short Tour of Rabat. Visit the unfinished Tour Hassan Mosque; it is the counterpart of Marrakech’s Koutoubia Mosque and the Giralda Cathedral in Seville, Spain, all of which were built by the Almohad Dynasty, the twelfth 12 century persecutors of the Jewish people. Adjoining the Tour Hassan is the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V, which has become a pilgrimage site for Jews, who cannot forget his efforts to defend them against the anti-Semitic policies of the French Vichy Government. Next we will visit the Jewish quarter with its narrow lanes and colorful courtyards, the near-by mellah has a beautiful synagogue just inside its gates, while the main synagogue is found a few blocks onward in the New City. Outside the city walls of Rabat, we will visit an other walled city, The ancient ruins of Chellah, where Jews are believed to have lived during the time of the Phoenicians. Then we will visit the Kasbah des Oudaias, situated on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean you’ll find magnificent views. Lunch in a restaurant of your choice (suggestions will be provided) and Departure for Tangier Larache and Asilah. Arrival in Tangier. Sightseeing tour of the city. It is worth while seeing the “Rue des Synagogues” which represents a prime example of a compact unit of immense cultural importance. This world-famous street has a great number of houses of worship. Some of the Synagogues along this narrow winding street are now closed to the public. One of them, Temple Benatar, has been restored and is superbly decorated. Near-by is the American Legation Museum, located in the oldest American consulate in continuous use. Two other points of interest in Tangier are: the old jewish cemetery, with some anthropomorphically shaped tombstones, and the “Oued lihoud”, the bay where Jewish exiles from Spain landed. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Tangier – Tetouan – Chefchaouen (118km / 74 mi) After breakfast, additional sightseeing in the morning. Departure for Tetouan. Lunch. Afternoon sightseeing tour of the city: Tetouan's jewish community, originating from the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, was for many centuries the intellectual and religious center of the North of Morocco. Over half of the more than 500 Jews (7500 in 1950) live in a well kept mellah built in the traditional Andalusian style in 1808. The Tetouan Mellah enjoys the distinction of being the only one, apart from the new Mellah of Meknes built more than a century later, that still houses a majority of the resident community, who faithfully maintain their Judeo-Spanish language, traditions and customs. The city's large and excellently preserved cemetery comprises another historical landmark of great interest, most particularly the Castilian section, the burial ground for the earliest settlers from Spain, whose unusual anthropomorphically shaped and inscriptionless tombstones have furnished material for a number of scholarly articles. In the Mellah are three active Synagogues, all of tourist interest. Among these, the Synagogue Rabbi Isaac Ben Oualid, on the ground floor of the Rabbi's home, is the most historic, and its interior the most picturesque, and many legends surround this building. Tetouan is the site of the first Alliance Israelite Universelle School, established in 1862 after Morocco regained control of the city from the Spanish. The major saint is Isaac Benoualide... Then continue to Chaouen. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 5: Chefchaouen – Ouazzane - Meknes – Fez (118km / 74 mi) After breakfast, we will visit chefchaouen then continue onto the holy city of Ouazzane to visit the sanctuary of a Jewish Saint venerated by both Muslims and Jews Rabbi Amram Ben Diwan. His Hiloulah is considered the largest pilgrimage gathering for Moroccan Jews. It takes place in Ouezzane, in the foothills of the Rif Mountains. After lunch, departure for Meknes "the Moroccan Versailles" which was founded at the end of the 17th Century by Moulay Ismail, where the Jewish presence is evidenced by Hebraic epitaphs dating from the Christian era as well as Greek inscriptions that still appear in local Synagogues and a place of pilgrimage where the tomb of Rabbi' David Benmidan, "The Patron of Meknes" is located. After lunch in a restaurant of your choice (suggestions will be provided) sightseeing tour of the city. Meknes, which had 18.000 Jews in 1950, now has a community of 1000. Not to be missed during the visit: the crowded old Mellah is of special interest because of the idea it gives of the past life there conveyed through the historic Jewish names retained by many of the streets. The new Mellah, notable for its many streets with Jewish names. Eight of its eleven Synagogues still serve for congregations. Among them, two are very well maintained, and their interiors are dimly lit by large, intricately designed memorial oil lamps. We continue to Fez with a stop at Volubilis, a well-preserved Roman city, where archaeologists found the first traces of Jewish settlement in Morocco. Then a short visit to the Mausoleum of the founder the first Arab Dynasty that ruled Morocco, Idriss I. Arrival, check-in, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 6: Fez: sightseeing city Breakfast, the whole day will be devoted to the sightseeing of Fez, the oldest cultural and spiritual imperial city of Morocco, which was founded in 790 B.C by Moulay Idriss II. Highlights will include the mellah with its synagogues (Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Danan Synagogue, Roben Ben Sadoun, the Jewish Museum of the Em Habanim synagogue), next a visit to the Jewish cemetery which contains the tombs of more Jewish saints than any other cemetery in Morocco, like, Yehuda Ben Attar, Abner Ha-Serfati, Solika Hatchuel, Monsenego… We will visit also the house of Maimonides with its mysterious water clock. Maimonides lived in the city from 1159-1165. Suffering from the persecutions of the Almohad dynasty, he emigrated to escape forced conversion. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will explore Medieval Medina, the Medersas, the El Qaraouiyyin Mosque, mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II the founder of Fez in the ninth century who encouraged the Jews to move to Fez and the sumptuous Nejjarine fountain. Then we will visit the Arabian House to observe various craftsmen performing their work reminiscent of ancient techniques. Optional visit of Bhalil featuring the cemetery of Safrou where Rabbi Lahou Harroch and Rabbi Raphael Moshe Elbaz are buried. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 7: Fez-Midelt–Errachidia–Erfoud (445 km/278 mi) After breakfast, departure for Erfoud via Azrou, Ifrane, Midelt, Errachidia... On the way, we will explore the Jewish sites in Errachidia, this town is surrounded by dozens of ksour, or fortified villages, where Jews once coexisted for centuries with Berber tribes. Continuation to Erfoud. This town was the major Jewish population center of the Tafilalet, where Jews lived and financed the caravan trade with Sub-Saharan Africa from as early as the eighth century. Jews worked as merchants and artisans as late as the twentieth century. Highlights will include also the Jewish cemetery; it is sandy but otherwise well-preserved... We leave the van and ride the Land Rover taking the road of Merzouga to attend to lie down it of the sun in dunes of Erg Chebbi that constitute the big curiosity of the corner. It is real moving sculptures in the shape of draperies whose colours vary according to the intensity of light. They stand as the living defensive walls to doors of the desert, highest reach 150 ms... Berber dinner and overnight under Nomadic tents.
Day 8: Erfoud –Tinghir-Kalaat M’Gouna-Ouarzazate. (340 km/212 mi) After another breathtaking view of the sunrise, return to Erfoud for orientation tour and continue on to the Todra Gorges known for their impressive bare escarpments. Only 10 Km before to reach Tinghir at the end of a valley thick with palm groves and Berber villages, is the magnificent Todra Gorges. A massive fault in the plateau diving the High Atlas from the Jbel Saghro, with a crystal-clear river running through it, the gorge rises to 300m at its narrowest point. Arrival in Tineghir we will visit its Mellah gateway and the ancient and colorful Jewish quarter. Tinghir is believed to have one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Morocco. Departure to Ouarzazate via El Kelaa des M'Gouna and optional visit of Tiliit (5 miles from El Kelaa Des M'Gouna), known as the Ancient City of the Jews of the Dades. The fortress of Tiliit has been the center of a Jewish region ruled by the Spanish-Jewish family of Perez from the end of the fifteenth century until the reign of Moulay Ismail in 1672. A really interesting day, all one valley to discover, the most beautiful valley of all the Moroccan south, cultivated mountain, population more than smiling, then throats of Dades, valley of roses, valley of the 1001 Kasbahs, then Skoura and Ouarzazate. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 9: Ouarzazate-Ait Ben Haddou-Marrakech (210 km/131 mi) After breakfast, visit of the Taourirt and Tifoultout Kasbahs, ancient residences of Glaoui (The former Pacha of Marrakesh), Then a special visit to the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, registered to the world heritage of the UNESCO this walled village, spangled of notched towers and decorated of motives in the shape of lozenge, is considered understandably like one of most beautiful of the country. Hundreds of movies are shot in this décor: the diamond of the Nile, Lawrence of Arabia, the mommy, Gladiator, 7 days in Tebet, Babel... In the afternoon departure for Marrakesh via the Tiz-in-Tichka pass (2260m) and Taddert. Optional: excursion to the Rabbi David Oumouchy. Optional: excursion to a Jewish saint, David Lachkar (or Moulay Ighi). On the way to Marrakesh, we will visit the sanctuary of a Jewish saint Rabbi Habibi Mizrahi. Arrival, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel. Day 10. Marrakech. Breakfast. This morning, enjoy a peck into the world of Jewish Marrakesh. We will visit the Mellah with its synagogues, The Negidim synagogue built at the end of the 19th century, the other synagogue of the mellah is the Salat el Alzama, built at the turn of the century, there is a local legend that the synagogue was built during the Second Temple period by Jews who had never lived in Eretz-Israel and had not witnessed the destruction of the Temple... Then the cemetery where Rabbi Hanania Ha-Cohen, the Lion of Marrakesh and Rabbi Pinhas Cohen are buried. We then proceed to the Palais el Bahia where our guided tour takes us to several grand halls, gardens and the harem quarter… After lunch at a local Casher Restaurant in the mellah, our tour takes us to visit the eleventh century Almoravide Koubba el Baroudiyn. It is one of the few architectural reminders of the dynasty that presided over the "Golden Age" of the Jews in Spanish Andalucia and Morocco. The Medersa Ben Yusuf, El Badi Palace and Saadian tombs are beautiful demonstrations of the art and architecture of the 16th century Saadians, a dynasty that relied heavily on Jewish traders with Sub-Saharan Africa, including Moroccan-controlled Timbuktu, to finance its wars against Portugal and the Turkish Empire. After ample time exploring the Djemâa’s sights and sounds, we depart to the the remarkable Chez Ali Fantasia : As an excellent finale to any stay in Marrakech, dinner/show Chez Ali is truly a 1001 Nights’ experience. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 11: Excursion to Ourika / High Atlas Mountains (2 X 46Km/28mi) After breakfast, departure for the High Atlas Mountains to visit the Berber village of Ourika and to have a taste of the Berber life style by having a cup of tea within a Berber family... Half way on the road through Vallée d'Ourika In Aghbalou is an old Berber Jewish sanctuary and synagogue: the tomb of tzaddik Rabbi Shlomo bel Hansh. This tomb is the site of one of the biggest pilgrimages in Morocco... Optional: you can hike up to a waterfall for one or two hours... Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 12: Marrakesh– Essaouira (Mogador) (170 km/106 mi) After breakfast, departure to Essaouira, ex Portuguese Mogador stronghold. The 60’s music legends Jimmy Hendrix and the Rolling Stones were drawn to Essaouira’s idyllic charm, which continues today to lure musicians and artists alike to the sparkling whitewashed fishing village trimmed with the brilliant azure of its skies... In the 18th century, the Alaouite Sultan Mohamed Ben Abdallah charged some prominent Jewish families to promote international trade from the port of Essaouira. Lunch at a local fish restaurant. Essaouira's mellah covers over 10 percent of the town, but Jews constituted almost 40 percent of the population in the late 1880's. Jewish stars on the doors to the mellah show the degree to which Jews were accepted in Essaouira, to the point that some of the richer Jews did not even live in the mellah. Commemorative plaques indicate the buildings in which synagogues were located. Former inhabitants of Essaouira, most of them Jewish, formed a committee to rehabilitate the town. The Jewish cemetery, just outside the city gates, is extremely well-kept. Two historical synagogues should be renovated soon "Slat Rabbi Haïm Pinto and Slat Attias". Dinner and overnight at the hotel. Day 13: Essaouira – Safi – El Jadida (Mazagan) - Casablanca (400 km/249 mi) After breakfast, departure for Casablanca via the picturesque coastal road. There were Jewish communities in the ports of Safi and El Jadida, who were active in commerce and handicrafts. Stop in Safi to visit the Mellah in the Northern part of the medina, the sanctuary of Oulad Ben Zmirou and the Portuguese fortress. Then continuation to Oualidia for a fish lunch in a local restaurant with view over its superb bay. Continuation to El Jadida. In El Jadida, the 18th century Portuguese citadel later served as the Jewish quarter... Continuation to Casablanca. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 14: Departure to Casablanca airport (35 km/22 mi) Assistance for check-in and boarding formalities. End of our services.
These are sample itineraries, customizable for each client prices are on request and depend on dates, accommodations level and activities Optional kosher meals can be arranged in Casablanca and Marrakech. Possibility to attend a religious service at a Synagogue if coinciding with Shabbat.
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