On the Trail of the Moors: Intercontinental Road Trip from Spain to Marrakech

The Moors were the Muslim inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages, who controlled large swathes of modern-day Spain and Portugal. Between the 700s and the 1500s, the Moors gradually gained more power and influence in Europe but, as most empires do, they began to be expelled by other forces. In 1515, the Moors and their Portuguese allies attempted to seize the city of Marrakech in Morocco, which they lost.

Nowadays, the Moors are perhaps best known for their contributions to architecture, science, maths, medicine, and philosophy. Many people are interested to know more about these incredible people who changed the world that we live in today.

One of the best ways to do this is by visiting the places that the Moors lived, in order to walk through the buildings they designed, visit museums containing their statues and take tours of places that were important to them.

The easiest (and cheapest) way to see all the sites is driving, so we’ve laid out an itinerary below. If you have to fly to get to mainland Europe and begin your adventure, that’s no problem. We recommend that you fly into Seville, Spain, and hire a car that you can drop off in Marrakech. (That means no need to drive the car back.)

Day 1: Seville

Here you can explore the part of Spain that was home to the Moors for over 700 years, stopping to take in the Giralda, the Cathedral's bell tower that was originally built as the minaret for the Great Mosque, and that Alcazar, a royal palace built on top of the Moors’ residential fortress. You can learn more about these places and the Moors’ history by taking a walking tour from an experienced guide.

Day 2: Cordoba

This city is referred to as a lasting a testament to a golden age of religious tolerance during the Moors’ rule. Here, you’ll be able to explore the Moorish quarter, where you can tour the Great Mosque of Cordoba, inside which a cathedral was built following the Christian conquest, the Caliphal Baths, and the Medina Azahara, which is an archaeological site featuring examples of Spanish-Muslim architecture.

Day 3: Granada

This was the last stronghold of the Moors before they were driven out of Western Europe in the 15th century, which makes is the perfect place to take in more architectural marvels like the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens.

Alhambra began as a fortress, built atop the Roman fortifications, but in the mid-1300s, it was converted into a palace by Sultan Yusuf I and was one of the last Islamic palaces constructed in Spain. Generalife was the summer palace, offering plenty of stunning gardens to walk through and areas for outdoor recreation.

Days 4-5: Driving to Chefchaouen

It is roughly a seven-hour drive, including a ride on the car ferry, between the two cities. As this is a holiday, we have allotted extra time so that you can relax en-route at some places that are exciting and worth the trip but don’t have the Moorish history we’re focusing on. Our top tips are the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol and the former spy hotspot of Tangier.

Day 6: Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen, which is surrounded by the Rif Mountains have a Kasbah that dates back to the 15th century, where the Moors were expelled from Europe, and features a lot of Moorish heritage.

Day 7-9: Marrakech

Again, it’s roughly a seven-hour drive to Marrakech, so after making the drive, you’ll probably want to get a nice dinner and an early night before starting fresh the next morning.

Marrakech is a city steeped in Moorish history. Not only did the Moors attempts to capture the city at the beginning of the 1500s, but  during the 11th century, the Moors actually ruled Morocco as well as the southern part of modern-day Spain, constructing the still-in-use Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, which features many of the typical tenants of Moorish architecture, like the horseshoe-shaped arches and overlapping roof tiles.

Hopefully, this article has inspired you to take a trip of your own, following in the Moors’ footsteps to explore the lives of people that transformed the world in the Middle Ages.
On the Trail of the Moors: Intercontinental Road Trip from Spain to Marrakech On the Trail of the Moors: Intercontinental Road Trip from Spain to Marrakech Reviewed by Pravesh Kumar Maurya on 00:39 Rating: 5

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