Thursday, September 20, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

The Koutoubia Mosque -- or mosque of the booksellers -- is visible from many points in Marrakech.  It is the symbol of Marrakech.  It was constructed in 1184-1189 by the Almohad dynasty after they defeated their arch enemies, the Almoravids, and captured Marrakech.

The minaret is 77 meters tall.  It replaced one on an adjoining site that had been misaligned toward Mecca and fell into disrepair and has been removed (except for rows of columns).  The Koutoubia Mosque is the model for other mosques around Morocco, including the Tour Hassan in Rabat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: In the Marrakech Souks

Souks are the markets in the old city of Marrakech.

This entrance to the Medina is through the 12th century Bab Agnaou ("Black Gate").

Carts, bicycles and motorbikes race through the narrow alleys of the souks.

I love the pierced brass lanterns.

Olives of every variety are on sale.

There is a huge square with merchants, musicians, and sightseers.

And snake charmers for the gullible.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Ouarzazate to Marrakech

It was a long day.  We began with a tour of a kasbah designed for short people, so I couldn't go in.  We then went to a cinema museum that didn't interest me, followed by a long, bumpy and winding ride over the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech.  I was on the wrong side of the coach to take pictures.

So, for today I offer only a placekeeper photo.  This is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait-Ben-Haddou, a fortified village in the Atlas Mountains on the caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakech.  Many movies have been filmed here.  It is now almost completely abandoned.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: A Desert Day

We began in Erfoud, the town at the edge of the desert, which has a reputation as the fossil capital.

These are ammonites, if my notes are right.

Idris was our tall and handsome guide in  Rassini before we went into the desert.

Idris led us to a store with nice handicrafts and then to a pre-school.

After a while we took 4-by-4 vehicles into the desert.  
We stopped for a visit with a nomadic woman in her tent.

The desert is beautiful.

We reached our destination: sand dunes.

And camels.

Taking one-handed photos with a big DSLR from the back of a plodding camel is not easy.
I liked this shot into the sun.

We got back to the camp after dark and had a good meal while six men 
from sub-Saharan Africa played instruments and danced. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: To the Desert

Wifi constraints today, so just three pictures.
We took a long coach ride from Fez to Erfoud, the town at the edge of the Sahara Desert.
There was heavy rain for the first half of the trip.

When we reached this scenic spot, the rain had stopped and the river was filling up.

 Taking "local color" photos out of a fast moving coach is tough, but this was OK.

I liked this one.  Into the desert tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: A Second Day in Fez


NIbal is our tour guider.

The rug seller.

The master coppersmith.

A merchant.

One among many amazing ceilings.

Peeking into a mosque.

A prickly pear sale.

I just liked the way the women were arranged.

Just passing time.

Friendly discussions look like angry arguments.

If it needs to be moved in the Medina, there is a heavy loaded mule or donkey 
or a man or two pushing a cart.

Tanning hides is in competition for the worst job in the world.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Fez, Morocco

Fez is a wonderful city to visit.  One feature is the huge medina (the fortified old town, filled with markets and residences).

The winding paths are so narrow that all deliveries are made either on the backs of mules and donkeys or in carts pushed my men.

This is a particularly colorful alley.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Meknes, Morocco


Meknes is one of the four imperial cities in Morocco.  One interesting site is the Royal Stables, built in the 18th century by slaves working under the direction of the sultan, Moulay Ismael.  It was to stable the sultan's 12,000 horses.  Later in the 18th century an earthquake destroyed the roof, so the stables are now open to the sky.  A massive granary is attached, to hold the horses' food.

Bab Mansour Lalouj is the impressive gate to the imperial city.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Volubilis, Morocco

Volubilis is an excavated Roman ruin about one hour or so east of Rabat, Morocco.
The settlement dates to 168 B.C.  It was discovered and excavations began in 1915.  To date, it is estimated that only one third has been uncovered.  Perhaps the most impressive
discoveries are numerous mosaic floors.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Out of the Jurisdiction: Rabat, Morocco

I am visiting Morocco for two weeks.  After flying into Casablanca, my group was transported
to Rabat, the administrative capital of the country.  Rabat is on the Atlantic coast.

The Chellah is a medieval fortified Muslim necropolis.

La Tour Hassan is an incomplete mosque.  The 12th century tower was intended to be the largest minaret in the world, along with the mosque, which was also intended to be the largest. When the Caliph died, construction stopped.  The tower is 140 feet, half of its intended height.  Walls and 348 columns survive.  Across the way is the modern Mausoleum of Mohammed V, from 1961.

The Mausoleum.

Ceiling, dome and stained glass of the Mausoleum.

Details of the outside of the Mausoleum.

The Royal Palace.  Morocco is ruled under a constitutional monarchy.  The current king is Mohammed VI, a progressive monarch in his 50s, who has ruled since
the death of his father Hassan II in 1999.

The Kasbah is a fortress atop a hill, with winding paths past blue and white painted residences.
At the top are fabulous views of beaches on the Atlantic and the Bou Regreg  estuary.