With Hollywood classic Casablanca named after its largest city, the appeal of Morocco is rooted in its cinematic charm. Here, the Western Kingdom’s most famous filming locations
The town of Chefchaouen was first bathed in different shades of blue by Jewish refugees in the 15th century to reflect the skies. It’s a tradition that continues until today, making Chefchaouen one of the most picturesque towns of Morocco: the mosques and public offices, down to the lampposts, are painted blue. The narrow, winding alleyways’ ever-shifting shadows make it seem like you never pass the same way twice.
Reel Haul: Giorgio Armani’s commercial for “Femme Bleue,” and Jacob Cohen’s shoot for his 2016 fall/winter collection
The capital of Ouarzazate Province is known as The Door of the Desert because it is situated right beside the Sahara. A big part of its charm lies in the fact that it seems oddly quiet and empty for a city of its size. It’s also the Hollywood of Africa, being home to one of the biggest movie studios in the world in terms of land area, Atlas Studios. The oases Fint and Zagora nearby are welcome respites from concrete and clay.
Reel Haul: The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), Gladiator (2000)
Marrakech is known as one of the busiest cities in Africa for a reason. You can get lost while walking through the gardens of the ancient Saadian Tombs, or navigating the labyrinthine souks of the medina where pottery, jewelry, and textiles are sold. One of the most popular markets is Djeema el-Fna, where there are snake charmers during the day and musicians and dancers at night. Don’t forget to see the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, an icon of Marrakech.
Reel Haul: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation (2015), Sex and the City 2 (2008)
An icon of southern Moroccan architecture, Ait Benhaddou Ksar’s magnificent sprawl of earthen buildings rise along the foothills of the High Atlas, Ouarzazate. Exploring it involves navigating its narrow, winding maze of stairs where anything could be around the corner. The structures are mainly built of clay and wood, which makes them prone to the elements, but constant, consistent conservation efforts have kept the buildings standing. UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Reel Haul: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Mummy (1999), Babel (2006)
The capital of Morocco is an eclectic combination of the country’s Arabo-Muslim heritage, its colonial past, and its cosmopolitan present. Rabat features beautiful colonial architecture and boulevards lined with palm trees. The ancient medieval ruins of the Chellah Necropolis are on Rabat’s fringes, while the Kasbah of the Udayas rises on the banks of the river Bou Regreg. The Hassan Tower, which would have been the world’s largest minaret if it weren’t left incomplete, is still a breathtaking work of architecture.
Reel Haul: Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation (2015), Black Hawk Down (2001), Body of Lies (2008)