Historic City of Meknes
Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727), the founder of the Alawite dynasty. The sultan turned it into an impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today.
Medina of Fez
Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 13th–14th centuries under the Marinids, when it replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. The urban fabric and the principal monuments in the medina – madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques and fountains - date from this period. Although the political capital of Morocco was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fez has retained its status as the country's cultural and spiritual center.
Medina of Marrakesh
Founded in 1070–72 by the Almoravids, Marrakesh remained as a political, economic and cultural center for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. It has several impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the battlements, monumental doors, gardens, etc. Later architectural jewels include the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Place Jamaâ El Fna, a veritable open-air theatre.
Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage
Rabat is the capital city of Morocco the city is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of bou regreg. Rabat has a relatively modern history compared to the nearby ancient city of Salé. In 1146, the Almohad ruler Abd al-Mu'min turned Rabat's ribat into a full-scale fortress to use as a launching point for attacks on Iberia. In 1170, due to its military importance, Rabat acquired the title Ribatu l-Fath, meaning "stronghold of victory," from which it derives its current name. Yaqub al-Mansur (known as Moulay Yacoub in Morocco), another Almohad Caliph, moved the capital of his empire to Rabat. He built Rabat's city walls, the Kasbah of the Udayas and began construction on what would have been the world's largest mosque. However, Yaqub died and construction stopped. The ruins of the unfinished mosque, along with the Hassan Tower, still stand today. Yaqub's death initiated a period of decline. The Almohad Empire lost control of its possessions in Spain and much of its African territory, eventually leading to its total collapse. In the 13th century, much of Rabat's economic power shifted to Fez. In 1515 a Moorish explorer, El Wassan, reported that Rabat had declined so much that only 100 inhabited houses remained. An influx of Moriscos, who had been expelled from Spain in the early 17th century helped boost Rabat's growth. .