UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Morocco

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Sailing across the straits of Gibraltar, a 14 km crossing from Spain, brings you to Morocco, Africa. A country that has been recognised by UNESCO for its preservation of its cultural landmarks; an insight to Morocco’s historical past. Morocco became UNESCO World Heritage convention on 25th October 1975 after three years when UNESCO was established. To date there are 9 world heritage sites to explore in Morocco.

Location of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Morocco

Medina of Fes (Fes el Bali or old Fes)

One of the Imperial city of Morocco founded in the 9th century and established as capital of the Merenids dynasty in 1248. A home to refugees who fled from as far as Andalusia (Spain) and Kairouan (Tunisia); building a walled city where merchants and traders from overseas contributed to the industrial and commercial development of the city. Furthermore, Fes was established as a centre of intellectual learning; One of the oldest university (Kairaouine University) for home and overseas students in the subjects of mathematics,religion, linguistics and sciences.

UNESCO Endorsement: 1981

Medina of Marrakech

The ‘red city’ and one of the earlier capitals of Morocco. Established in 1062 under the military leadership of Yusuf Bin Tachfine during the Almoravid dynasty (1062-1145 AD). The atlas tribes of Berber descent dominated the development of Marrakech and a city that flourished; a commercial centre for buying/selling of commodities such as gold, leather and slaves brought by passing caravans from Mali via the desert port of Timbuktu. The ancient walls of the medina of Marrakech enclosing Jemaa el Fna square, homes, palaces, mosques, souks and schools. A community built within the 7 kilometres ancient walls of a fortified town. UNESCO Endorsement: 1985

Ksar of Ait-ben-Haddou (Ouarzazate region)

Elevating to 2,260 metres of the Tizi n ‘Tichka’ in High Atlas Mountains from Marrakech takes a traveller to explore the Ksar (fortified tribal village made of mud) of Ait Benhaddou. 34km from Ouarzazate; a town built on its film industry, a provider for film locations for Hollywood. Perched on a hill and crossing the dry river beds of salts, stands the fortified village of Ait BenHaddou. Possibly built in the 11th century and ideally positioned for the Southern caravan route; connecting Marrakech to the southern desert region of North Africa. Furthermore, local salt, a currency for the purchase of commodities from the passing trading caravans. UNESCO Endorsement: 1987

Imperial City of Meknes

The former capital of the Alaouites (1665 – 1822) and established during the 55 years reign of Moulay Ismail. The vision of the ruler to glorify the ‘golden age’ of Muslim rule by launching an intensive building project of palaces, army barracks and gardens within the wall of Meknes. An entire city that has gained the UNESCO heritage award in Morocco. UNESCO Endorsement: 1996


The archaeological site of excavated Berber & Roman city; 25 km north of Meknes. The findings of the ancient ruins mainly consist of 2-3rd century AD buildings. Volubilis is surrounded by one of the fertile lands of North Africa which the Romans utilised to cultivate wheat and olives for the export market in Rome. Guided tours provide an insight of Roman life at Volubilis. UNESCO Endorsement: 1997

Medina of Tetouan

The Medina built around the 15th Century and a home to the persecuted Muslims and Jews who fled from Andalusian Spain. A hidden treasure of Morocco that escapes the hustle & bustle of other fortified wall cities in Morocco despite its numerous historical invasion from others. UNESCO Endorsement: 1997

Medina of Essaouira (Mogador)

A town that’s lies on the Atlantic Ocean and refer to Seurah (‘little picture’) according to Berber traditions. The existence of several forts in the town since the 15th century. The city walls, a part of the Medina was instructed by Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah with support of the French military architect, Theodore Cornut. A fusion of Moroccan Medina with French network/layout. Historically, during the 19th century, the city served as the only port connecting trade as far the Sahara to Europe. As an important trade landmark brings the settlement of new communities; for example, the Jewish community (Mellah).

UNESCO Endorsement: 2001

El Jadida – Portuguese city of Mazagan

A Medina that reflects a European design and commonly known as the Cite Portugaise – founded by the Portuguese in 1513 and re-conquered by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah in 1749 and re -named as El -Jadida (‘The New’). Despite the destruction of churches by the Portuguese before their departure; the Portuguese cistern remains within the Medina. UNESCO Endorsement: 2004


The modern capital city of Morocco since 1912. To date, reflects a typical administrative and diplomatic development. The existing Medina, compact in structure and founded by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th Century with further modification of construction of Andalusian style walls in the 17th Era. Historically, this was the city of Rabat until the expansion of the city by the French in 1912. The most important landmarks that exist today within the walls of the Medina are the 14th century Merenids Grand mosque and the old Jewish quarters (Mellah). The ‘ribat’ or military home for soldiers (Kasbah des Oudaias) is an extension; lying close to the Medina walls built around 1195. UNESCO Endorsement:2012

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