Imperial Cities

Morocco’s imperial cities are its four historical capitals: Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat; we’ll visit three of them on the Camels to Casbahs trip. Built for the king and his courtiers, these metropolises included impressive palaces and sophisticated irrigation systems, and reflected the rulers’ grand ambitions. Over the centuries, the capital moved several times among the cities of Rabat, Fes, and Marrakech.

Close-up of an artist's hands as he paints a Moroccan ceramic bowl with geometric patterns


Fes, the first and most evocative of Morocco’s imperial capitals, was founded in 789 by Idriss I, who established the Kingdom of Morocco. It served as the capital three more times as various dynasties rose and fell. Today Fes is resplendent with minarets and domes, and its renowned medina is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval cities in the world.

Golden afternoon sunshine illuminates a vast street market in Marrakesh, Morocco


Marrakesh was founded in 1071 and served as Morocco’s capital for the next two centuries, as well as in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is still considered a symbol of Morocco and a reminder of its powerful Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. With Berber, rather than Arab, origins, Marrakesh has been a central tribal marketplace for centuries.

Small blue, red, and yellow boats bob in the blue water in front of a Moroccan cityfront


Rabat, the current capital, was occupied during Roman times and designed as an imperial city in the 18th century. Today this city of wide avenues and green spaces is Morocco’s second-largest city and the country’s administrative, financial, and political center.

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