Mediterranean Region

29 July 2023 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, French Riviera, European Union, Living, Working, Building, Sport, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  28 minutes

Monaco © Tobi 87/cc-by-sa-3.0

Monaco © Tobi 87/cc-by-sa-3.0

In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin, also known as the Mediterranean Region or sometimes Mediterranea, is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have mostly a Mediterranean climate, with mild to cool, rainy winters and warm to hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation.   read more…

The European Union: European Neighbourhood Policy

8 January 2023 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Editorial, EU blog post series, European Union Reading Time:  11 minutes

Flag_of_Europe The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is a foreign relations instrument of the European Union (EU) which seeks to tie those countries to the east and south of the European territory of the EU to the Union. These countries, primarily developing countries, include some who seek to one day become either a member state of the European Union, or more closely integrated with the European Union. The ENP does not apply to neighbours of the EU’s outermost regions, specifically France‘s territories in South America, but only to those countries close to EU member states’ territories in mainland Europe.   read more…

Chefchaouen in Morocco

14 October 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  13 minutes

© R.asma/cc-by-sa-3.0

© R.asma/cc-by-sa-3.0

Chefchaouen, also known as Chaouen, is a city in northwest Morocco. It is the chief town of the province of the same name, and is noted for its buildings in shades of blue. Chefchaouen is situated just inland from Tangier and Tétouan. It was founded as a military outpost shortly before the Spanish Reconquista of Granada, and its population grew quickly with Muslim and Jewish immigrants fleeing from Spain. The economy is based on a traditional agro-pastoral system with olive and fig plantations; numerous water mills for grinding grain and olives; a handicrafts sector focusing on leather, iron, textiles and carpentry; and summer-dominated tourism. The city of Chefchaouen is located at about 600 metres (2,000 ft) above sea level in the foothills of the Kaʻala mountain in the western part of the Rif mountain range, in northwestern Morocco. The province of Chefchaouen is among the largest in Morocco, with an area of 3,443 km² (1,329 sq mi). It is bordered by five provinces – Tétouan Province to the northwest, Larache Province to the west, Al Hoceïma Province to the east, Taounate Province to the south, Ouezzane Province to the southwest – and the Mediterranean Sea to the northeast. The Province of Chefchaouen belongs to the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima Region and consists of one urban commune (the municipality of Chefchaouen) and 27 rural communes, giving the province a rural character.   read more…

Essaouira on the Atlantic Ocean

8 October 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  14 minutes

© flickr.com - Visions of Domino/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Visions of Domino/cc-by-2.0

Essaouira, known until the 1960s as Mogador, today the name of the island off the coast of the city, is a port city in the western Moroccan region of Marakesh-Safi, on the Atlantic coast. It has 77,966 inhabitants as of 2014. The foundation of the city of Essaouira was the work of the Moroccan ‘Alawid sultan Mohammed bin Abdallah, who made an original experiment by entrusting it to several renowned architects in 1760, in particular Théodore Cornut and Ahmed al-Inglizi, who designed the city using French captives from the failed French expedition to Larache in 1765, and with the mission of building a city adapted to the needs of foreign merchants. Once built, it continued to grow and experienced a golden age and exceptional development, becoming the country’s most important commercial port but also its diplomatic capital between the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. The entire old town (Medina) of Essaouira was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2001.   read more…

El Jadida in Morocco

23 June 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Fortress of El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

Fortress of El Jadida © M. Rais/cc-by-sa-3.0

El Jadida, originally known in Berber as Maziɣen or Mazighen; known in Portuguese as Mazagão, is a major port city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, located 96 km south of the city of Casablanca, in the province of El Jadida and the region of Casablanca-Settat. It has a population of 170,956 as of 2022. The fortified city, built by the Portuguese at the beginning of the 16th century and named Mazagan (Mazagão in Portuguese), was taken by the Moroccans in 1769.   read more…

Aït-Benhaddou in Morocco

6 May 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  10 minutes

© ER Bauer/cc-by-2.5

© ER Bauer/cc-by-2.5

Aït Benhaddou is a historic ighrem or ksar (fortified village) along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh in Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.   read more…

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

16 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  8 minutes

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hassan II Mosque (Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside ground.   read more…

Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh

12 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh in Morocco. The mosque’s name is also variably rendered as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fna, and is flanked by large gardens. All the names and spellings of Kutubiyya Mosque are based on the Arabic word kutubiyyin, which means “booksellers”. The Koutoubia Mosque, or Bookseller’s Mosque, reflects the honorable bookselling trade practiced in the nearby souk. At one time as many as 100 book vendors worked in the streets at the base of the mosque.   read more…

Market place Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh

10 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Bon appétit, Shopping, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  10 minutes

© Boris Macek/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Boris Macek/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jemaa el-Fnaa is a square and market place in Marrakesh‘s medina quarter (old city). It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists. Marrakesh was founded by the Almoravid Dynasty in 1070 by Abu Bakr ibn Umar and subsequently developed by his successors. Initially, the city’s two main monuments and focal points were the fortress known as Ksar el-Hajjar (“fortress of stone”) and the city’s first Friday mosque (the site of the future Ben Youssef Mosque). The Ksar el-Hajjar was located directly north of today’s Koutoubia Mosque. The major souk (market) streets of the city thus developed along the roads linking these two important sites and still correspond to the main axis of souks today. At one end of this axis, next to the Ksar el-Hajjar, a large open space existed for temporary and weekly markets. This space was initially known as Rahbat al-Ksar (“the place of the fortress”). Other historical records refer to it as as-Saha al-Kubra (“the grand square”), or simply as as-Saha or ar-Rahba.   read more…

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