Must see places in Andalusia, Spain

If you are a muslim traveller or an islamic architecture lover those are the 7 things you must see in Granada

Top 10 foods to try in Morocco

One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations.

Top Five Must See Things in Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba قرطبة in the Andalucia province of southern Spain is a city with more than 2,500 years of developed history.

ChefChaouen, the blue city in Morocco

Located just a few hours by bus from Tangier and far enough off the beaten track to dissuade many tourists, Chefchaouen is quiet enough for those visitors overwhelmed by the busy medinas of Fez and Marrakech, and has just enough of what is quintessentially Moroccan to be of interest to other travelers looking for something a bit more authentic.

Fes, Morocco

The most mystical of Morocco's imperial cities, Fez. Capital and spiritual center of Morocco, this city is situated in a narrow valley against the backdrop of the Middle Atlas

martes, 21 de abril de 2015

Top 10 foods to try in Morocco

Sample the aromatic and spicy food of North Africa by taking a trip to Morocco, a vibrant country with strong traditions and a diverse landscape of bustling cities, mountain ranges and arid deserts.
One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations. Think tart green olives paired with chopped preserved lemon rind stirred into a tagine of tender chicken, the surprise of rich pigeon meat pie dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, or sardines coated with a flavourful combination of coriander, parsley, cumin and a hint of chilli. 

Influenced by Andalusian Spain, Arabia and France, Morocco’s cuisine is a delicious combination of mouthwatering flavours that make it unique.

Don’t leave Morocco without trying…


At a few pennies a bowl, this rich soup of dried broad beans is traditionally served for breakfast, topped with a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkling of cumin and bread fresh from the oven. 


A tagine is the clay cooking pot with a conical lid that gives its name to a myriad of dishes. Tagines can be seen bubbling away at every roadside café, are found in top notch restaurants and in every home, and are always served with bread. 

 Fish chermoula

With its long Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, Morocco boasts a rich array of fish dishes. Chermoula is a combination of herbs and spices used as a marinade before grilling over coals, and as a dipping sauce.


During the holy month of Ramadan, the fast is broken at sunset each day with a steaming bowl of harira soup. Rich with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb, it is finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped coriander, and served with a sticky sweet pretzel called chebakkiya.

Kefta tagine

Beef or lamb mince with garlic, fresh coriander and parsley, cinnamon and ground coriander is rolled into balls and cooked in a tomato and onion sauce. Just before the dish is ready, eggs are cracked into depressions in the sauce and soon cook to perfection.


‘Seksu’ or couscous is a fine wheat pasta traditionally rolled by hand. It is steamed over a stew of meat and vegetables. To serve, the meat is covered by a pyramid of couscous, the vegetables are pressed into the sides and the sauce served separately. It is often garnished with a sweet raisin preserve, or in the Berber tradition, with a bowl of buttermilk.


Moroccan street food is legendary and the best place to sample the wide variety is Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech. 

Here beside the kebabs, calamari and grilled sardines, you will find the more unusual sweet cheek meat of sheep’s heads, snails cooked in a spicy broth that wards off colds, and skewers of lamb’s liver with caul fat. Makouda are little deep-fried potato balls, delicious dipped into spicy harissa sauce.


Moroccan meals begin with at least seven cooked vegetable salads to scoop up with bread. They can include green peppers and tomatoes, sweet carrots or courgette purée, and a dish of local olives alongside. Zaalouk is a smoked aubergine dip, seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin and a little chilli powder.


This very special pie represents the pinnacle of exquisite Fassi (from Fez) cuisine. Layers of a paper-thin pastry coddle a blend of pigeon meat, almonds and eggs spiced with saffron, cinnamon and fresh coriander, the whole dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon.

Mint tea

Known as ‘Moroccan whisky’, mint tea is the drink of choice. It is usually heavily sweetened with sugar chipped off a sugar cone. Gunpowder tea is steeped with a few sprigs of spearmint stuffed into the teapot. It is poured into a tea glass from a height to create a froth called the crown.

miércoles, 15 de abril de 2015

Must see places in Andalusia, Spain

malaga-spainThe region of Andalusia stretches over 87 268 km² of land. Andalusia makes up 17% of Spain. This autonomous region has lots to offer to its visitors.

You can visit Andalusia in our tour Spain & Morocco of  10days / nights

Here are some highlights in this fascinating part of Spain.      

The natural beaches of Cabo de Gata, Almeria. This area is named Cabo de Gata after the mineral Agate (agata) which used to be mined in that area. As your drive through this National Park you will see the landscapes vary. From expanses of desert with cactus and prickly pear trees to beautiful rustic beaches. You will discover villages that look like they came straight out of the Wild West. It´s easy to see how this area has attracted so many film producers. Recently Ridley Scott filmed scenes for the film Exodus at Playa de los Genoveses. The bird scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was also filmed here.

The Alpujarra villages. These small villages extend across a large area in Granada and Almeria provinces. The region is beside the Sierra Nevada mountain range and boasts dramatic landscapes. A day out around the Alpujarras is a unique experience. The locals thrive on the sale of local craftwork and delicious food from that area. This group of villages is currently on the UNESCO waiting list to be added as a World Heritage site. It has a history of Silk production and was once one of the main producers of silk in the world. You will love this area of Andalusia if you enjoy nature, walking, and local crafts. You may like to party in the Alpujarra at one of the local fiestas in the summer months.

 The Alhambra Palace and Generalife. This group of palaces and gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the city of Granada, this site received 2,315,017 visitors last year. (2013 figures) This began as a fortress over 1000 years ago. As the years passed it changed gradually as different monarchs conquered the Kingdom of Al Andalus. A fascinating history lies before any visitor to this spectacular place. The intricate plasterwork on its walls seems unending. The reflective details in the architecture adds symmetry to the Nasrid palaces. As you wander through the Alhambra complex you may think you have travelled back in time.

Cordoba. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mezquita of Cordoba is well worth a visit. Building of this impressive mosque began in 786 and took around 200 years to complete. This Cathedral mosuqe is located in the centre of old quarter of Cordoba. The central hall is full of hundreds of columns and arches. Many of these stone columns came from other countries across the empire although at a first glance they look alike. Cordoba is also well known for it´s colourful patio festival. Although it takes place in May you can visit the patios at other times of the year too. The sunset across the roman bridge is stunning. A walk around the old streets after dark is particularly magical.

Malaga. Although the coastal towns of Malaga are popular for their beaches and nightlife, the old quarter of Malaga must be included on your visit. The city has it´s own fortress or Alcazaba and the impressive Roman amphitheatre too. The views from the Alcazaba over the coastline and the port are well worth the jaunt up the hill. (take the bus) T. As you walk around the city centre you may see flower sellers with white jasmine flowers for sale. Known locally as biznagas they make an unusual gift to take home. Don´t miss the Calle Larios, the main commercial street or the bar Pimpi, a must see for any visitor to Malaga.


Ronda is an inland town in the Malaga province. The town is seperated in two by a vast gorge. The two areas of the old town and the newer part where the commercial area is. The surrounding countryside and views from the bridge will make for impressive holiday photos. This bridge puente nuevo inspired Ernest Hemingway in For whom the bell tolls. Ronda´s Plaza de Toros has a museum which displays different aspects of this spanish tradition. Ronda makes a good destination for a day trip if staying along the Costa del Sol or in Marbella.

Ronda, Malaga, Spain

Seville. The city of Seville is famous for its Easter processions and it´s traditional Feria de Abril. If you have chance to visit at Eastertime you will be able to enjoy the intense atmosphere of the Easter processions. The Feria de abril follows after easter and lasts for 10 days. Colourful flamenco dresses and lots of bottles of manzanilla dry wine are enjoyed each year at the fair. Monuments worth visiting in the city are the Cathedral of Seville with the its famous Giralda, the Alcázar and the Archivo General de Indias. The three buildings are UNESCO listed. The Plaza de España, Parque Maria Luisa  and the neighbourhood of Triana are also recommended for any visitor.

Cadiz. This coastal city is still one of the most important seaports in Spain. This city is the oldest in Spain, founded in the 11th century B.C. It´s often called the Tacita de Plata, meaning the silver tea cup. There is something special about Cadiz. The atmosphere of the city and the friendly locals make any visit enjoyable. Go and taste some tapas in the Barrio de La Palma,  just a short walk from the beach.  Take a walk along the fortified walls beside the sea and see the San Esteban Castle. You can also see Cadiz from above at Torre Tavira, using their camara oscura.

The National park of Doñana is a birdwatchers paradise. This park located in Huelva province is yet another UNESCO listed site. With a large number of protected birds in it´s grounds you can enjoy birdwatching in a beautiful natural setting. Flamingos, geese, vultures, kites and many others are here this impressive park. 

Doñana National Park, Andalusia, Spain

jueves, 9 de abril de 2015

11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in طنجةTangier, Morocco

Always of huge strategic importance at the entrance to the Mediterranean, Tangier is the enthralling gateway to Africa, a tantalising introduction to a culture vastly different from that across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Tangier is divided into an old walled city, or medina, a nest of medieval alleyways, and a new, modern city, the ville nouvelle. The medina contains a kasbah, the walled fortress of the sultan, which forms its western corner; the Petit Socco (also known as Socco Chico and Souq Dakhel), an historic plaza in the centre; and of course, the souqs, or markets. The much more impressive Grand Socco, a pleasant square with a central fountain, is the hinge between the two sides of town, and the postcard entrance to the medina.

Shared from

1 Medina

Medina Yutaka Fujii

Tangier's Medina (Old City) tumbles down the cliff towards the ocean in a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. The central vortex of Medina life is the square known as the Petit Socco, where old men sit for hours drinking tea and playing backgammon. During its fast-paced past, the Medina was a playground for author Paul Bowles and America's legendary Beatnik literary figures such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Wandering around this area is a must for Tangier visitors.

Just west of the Petit Socco on Rue Siaghine is The Church of the Immaculate Conception, built by the Spanish in 1880. East of the square is the Grand Mosque. In the southeast corner of the Old City is the Old American Legation, once the US consulate building and the oldest American diplomatic post. The museum inside traces the history of the relationship between the US and Morocco: as Morocco was one of the first countries to recognise American independence, the US established its legation in Tangier in 1821. The interesting exhibits inside include George Washington's famous letter to Mouilay Abdullah.

2 Kasbah

The Kasbah, where the sultan once lived, dominates the Medina's northern section. The gate opens onto a large courtyard, which leads to the Dar el-Makhzem Palace and the modern-day Kasbah Museum. The palace was built in the 17th century and enlarged by each reigning sultan. The carved wooden ceilings and marble courtyard showcase the intricacies of Moroccan craft-work. Also in the Kasbah is the infamous Cafe Detroit, which became a haunt for the visiting and expat writers, artists and hangers-on in the 1960s.

3 Kasbah Museum

Kasbah Museum
Kasbah Museum g-squared

The Kasbah Museum brings together an amazing number of exhibits tracing Morocco's history. The Antiquities Collection brings together finds from Roman sites such as Lixus and Volubilis and includes a life-size model of a Carthaginian tomb. There are also displays explaining Tangier's history and a large section devoted to Moroccan arts. The Fes Room is particularly interesting, containing silks and illustrated manuscripts as well as centuries-old ceramics decorated from golden yellow to the famous Fes-blue.

4 Ville Nouvelle

Ville Nouvelle
Ville Nouvelle Peter Collins

Tangier's Ville Nouvelle (New City) is a must for fans of late 19th and early 20th century architecture as it features many fine buildings from this time period. Here you'll find the Terrasse des Paresseux (Terrace of the Idle) where you can look out at the spectacular ocean view that has captivated so many European artists. With the harbour before you, look across the water for the hazy silhouettes of Gibraltar and southern Spain in the distance.

The Grand Socco (the main square) marks the end of the New City and entry to the Medina. This is where Tangier locals come to stroll, play and sit in the surrounding cafes for hours. Just to the square's north is the Mendoubia Gardens, a shady spot full of fig and dragon trees.

5 Contemporary Art Museum

This art gallery is devoted to modern Moroccan art, with works by the country's big-name artists on show. The gallery's grand old building dates to the 17th century. Peaceful gardens surround the museum, making the attraction a relaxing respite to the bustle outside.

6 Beach


Tangier's beach side district is intrinsically linked to the city's heady 1960s, when the beautiful and louche literary residents made this one of the world's most famous strips of sand. Its hey-day is now long gone, but the beach area is still a good place for a stroll with plenty of locals promenading and playing football along its length.

7 Cap Spartel

Cap Spartel
Cap Spartel

Cap Spartel marks Africa's northwest tip. The promontory projects into the water marking the boundary of Mediterranean Sea with Atlantic Ocean. The best time to come here is at sunset, when you can see dusk settle over the Atlantic. The lighthouse here, at the tip of the promontory, is especially photogenic.
Location: 11 km west of Tangier

8 Asilah


The little town of Asilah, on the northwest tip of Morocco's Atlantic coast, has a history that stretches back to the Roman era. More recently, it has been under the control of both Spain and Portugal. But the town's imposing ramparts, with surviving bastions and towers, now offer a setting for delightful seaside walks. The Portuguese fortifications enclose an old town of pretty white-and-blue-washed houses with a distinctive Mediterranean feel. The town is also famous for fried seafood dishes. Restaurants line the shore, making for a great place to put your feet up while you sample some fish.
Location: 40 km from Tangier

9 Larache


The seaside town of Larache is the closest settlement to the Lixus archaeological site, where Greek legend tells that Hercules gathered the golden apples. The site includes a temple, theatre, acropolis and baths. Back in town itself, Larache's Archaeological Museum is housed in the Chateau de la Cigogne. The museum contains a collection of finds unearthed from Lixus, including an interesting display of perfume bottles and jewellery.

10 Ceuta


Spain's little piece of Morocco, this oddity of a town is a major transport hub with ferries across the sea to Algeciras. The old fortifications (built by the Portuguese) around the San Filipe Moat are the town's main sight, but the Ceuta Museum is also worth a look for its well-displayed collection of Punic and Roman finds.

Those with an interest in religious art and architecture should also visit Ceuta's main square - home to the interesting Cathedral Museum and the 15th century Church of Our Lady of Africa.

11 Melilla


Melilla's fortified Medina is the centre of most of the town's sightseeing. The museum here is worth a look for its interesting archaeological section. There is a 17th century cathedral here as well. At nearby Three Fork's Cape, gaze out over the perfectly turquoise waters. From the lighthouse you can see the many small beaches and great blocks of anthracite rise out of the waters.


According to Greek mythology Tangier, or Tingi, was founded by the giant Anteus. Tingi is mentioned by Carthagian travellers as early as 500 BC, and Phoenician sailors visited even earlier. After the destruction of Carthage, Tingi was affiliated with the Berber kingdom of Mauretania. It then became an autonomous state under Roman protection, eventually becoming a Roman colony in the 3rd century AD during the reign of Diocletian, and ending as the capital of Mauretania Tingitana. In the fifth century Vandals conquered and occupied Tingi and from here swept across North Africa.

A century later Tingi became part of the Byzantine Empire and gradually fell into obscurity until the city's capture by Moussa bin Nasser during the first years of the eighth century. The city's inhabitants were converted to Islam but many Berber tribes joined the schismatic Kharijite rebellion and seized the port city in AD 739. When Moulay Idris I established his kingdom at Volubilis in AD 788, Tangier became a focal point in the struggle between the Idrissid dynasty and the Umayyads. This struggle continued until the Fatimid dynasty from Tunisia assumed power in AD 958.

Tangier came under the successive sway of the Almoravides and Almohades, after which the city fell under the influence of the Tunisian Hafsid dynasty before passing into the hands of the Merinids. By the 14th century Tangier became a major Mediterranean port frequented by European trading vessels bringing cloth, spices, metals and hunting birds in exchange for leather, wool, carpets, cereals and sugar. After an unsuccessful attempt to seize Tangier in 1437, the Portuguese finally conquered and occupied the city in 1471, converting the great mosque into a cathedral. For nearly three centuries the town was passed back and forth between the Spanish, Portuguese and finally the English, when it was given to Charles II as part of the dowry from Catherine of Braganza.

The English granted Tangier a charter, which made the city equal to English towns. In 1679 Moulay Ismail made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the town but maintained a crippling blockade, which ultimately led to a British retreat. Under Moulay Ismail the city was reconstructed to some extent but the city gradually declined until, by 1810, the population was no more than 5,000. Tangier began to revive from the mid-19th century when European colonial governments fought for influence over Morocco.

miércoles, 1 de abril de 2015

Travel the halal way... and discover the Great Mosque of Cordoba

THE GREAT MOSQUE OF CORDOBA, universal symbol of Moorish heritage in Spain, and one of history's most extraordinary works of art, awaits you in Cordoba.

Come and admire this architectural jewel - a unique space made up of forms, light, columns and colours, where you will feel all the splendour of ancient Al-Andalus.
Visit "Andalusia routes" or our Spain & Morocco Tour in our website and send your request trip for more information.

Puente Romano, Cordoba, SpainThe Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is the most important monument of all the Western Islamic world, and one of the most amazing in the world. The evolution of the “Omeya” style in Spain is resumed in the history of the Mosque of Cordoba, as well as other styles such as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque of the Christian architecture.

It seems as if the place that the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba occupies nowadays was dedicated, from ancient times, to the cult of different divinities. In this same place, and during the Visigoth occupation, another building was constructed, the “San Vicente” Basilic.

On top of this basilic and after paying half of the site, the primitive Mosque was constructed. This basilic, of rectangular shape, was shared for a period of time between Moslems and Christians.

After the Muslim enlargement, the Basilic became property of Abderraman I, who destroyed it to construct the first “Mosque Alhama” or main Mosque of the city. Nowadays, some of the constructive elements of the Visigoth building are integrated in the first part of Abderraman I.

The Great Mosque has two different areas: the courtyard or “arcade sahn“, where the “alminar” (minaret) is constructed (beneath the Renaissance tower) by Abd al-Rahman III, and the “haram” or praying hall.

The interior space consists of a forest of columns and red and white arches giving a strong chromatic effect. The site is divided into 5 different areas, corresponding each one of them to the different expansions that have occurred on it.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Panels of scented woods were fastened with nails of pure gold, and the red marble columns were said to be the work of God. The primitive part of the building, erected under the direction of Abd-er-Rahman I., was that bordering the Court of Oranges. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The Great Mosque of Córdoba held a place of importance amongst the Islamic community of al-Andalus for three centuries. In Córdoba, the capital, the Mosque was seen as the heart and central focus of the city. Muhammad Iqbal described its hypostyle hall as having "countless pillars like rows of palm trees in the oases of Syria". To the people of al-Andalus "the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description."

The main hall of the mosque was used for a variety of purposes. It served as a central Prayer hall for personal devotion, the five daily Muslim prayers and the special Friday prayers. It also would have served as a hall for teaching and for Sharia Law cases during the rule of Abd al-Rahman & his successors.

The Great Mosque of Córdoba exhibited features, and an architectural appearance, similar to the Great Mosque of Damascus, therefore it is evident that it was used as a model by Abd al-Rahman for the creation of the Great Mosque in Córdoba.


The building's floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large, flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

One hundred fifty years following its creation, a staircase to the roof was added, along with a southward extension of the mosque itself. A bridge was built linking the prayer hall with the Caliph’s palace. The mosque was later expanded even further south, as was the courtyard which surrounded it.

The mosque was built in four stages, with each Caliph and his elite contributing to it.

Until the 11th century, the courtyard was unpaved earth with citrus and palm trees irrigated - at first by rainwater cisterns, and later by aqueduct.

Excavation indicates the trees were planted in a pattern, with surface irrigation channels. The stone channels visible today are not original.

Abd-er-Rahman III added a new tower. The minaret contained two staircases, which were built for the separate ascent and descent of the tower. On the summit there were three apples, two of gold and one of silver, with lilies of six petals.

The minaret is four-faced, with fourteen windows, having arches upon jasper columns, and the structure is adorned with tracery.