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North Africa


Description of Destination : north_africa
North Africa

Morocco: Agadir

Agadir, one of Morocco's most popular resorts, has one of the few safe, sandy beaches on this otherwise treacherous coast, and the beach front is the favourite place for an evening stroll. From it the Vallee des Oiseaux, a park with aviaries and a miniature train, leads into town. Agadir is an entirely modern town as it was rebuilt on fresh ground after an earthquake in 1960 destroyed everything except the gate of the Old Kasbah. The Kasbah's walls were rebuilt and their hilltop site offers good views of the new city, which is alive with the customary features of Maghrebi life, including cafes, a souk and show-shine boys. The Musee Municipal Bert Flint, under to soccer stadium, displays folk costumes and jewellery.

Morocco: Tangier

Overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, the ancient port of Tangier was founded by the Berbers before 1000 BC, and it is the oldest continually inhabited city in Morocco. Spread over the foothills of the Rif mountains, it is a city vibrant with Eastern colour. The nucleus is the vast, labyrinthine Medina, the market quarter, which pulsates with noise and vitality. From their workshops in back alleys, craftsmen make traditional goods for busy shops and stalls in the crowded streets. Yet behind wrought-iron railings the visitor will see cool fountains, mosques and tranquil courts decorated with mosaics. Despite its unification with Morocco in 1956, Tangier remains a rich melting pot of cultures and religions, where the spires of Christian churches contrast interestingly with the minarets of Muslim mosques.

Tunisia: Tunis

One of the Mediterranean's best-kept secrets, the old, white, hill town of Tunis dates back to the 7th century Arab conquest. During the French colonial period of 1881 to 1956, a rational grid of streets was added to the snaking alleyways of the old Medina, and the city is now the thriving political and economic capital of Tunisia. Avenue Habib Bourguiba offers a leisurely stroll, where pavement cafes compete for business and shade is provided by a sculptural avenue of ficus trees. In the Medina, however, all is frantic activity; the sounds of metalworkers, perfumers, hat-makers in their narrow booths and salesmen in the carpet bazaars are punctured form time to time by the cry of the muezzin as he calls the faithful to prayer.

Libya: Tripoli

Though Libya's government offices moved to the new city of Sirte in 1998, Tripoli, the political centre for four centuries, is still the economic capital and heart of the country. It looks out over a large, sheltered harbour and has a medieval medina (old town). Within it are the Roman arch of Marcus Aurelius built in the 2nd century AD, the Gurgi Mosque, founded in 1833, with a beautiful, titled prayer hall, the Karamanli House Museum illustrating 19th and 20th century upper-bourgeois life, and the covered souk, which is best visited mid-morning or just before dusk. The Jamahiriya Museum has a breath-taking collection of archaeological treasures. The ruins of Roman Sabratha are about an hour's drive form Tripoli. 

Egypt: Alexander

Founded by Alexander the great in 331 BC, for nearly a millennium this great seaport was a centre of learning and commerce second only to Rome . It was home to the world's greatest library and the fabulous Pharos, a towering lighthouse counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, held court here, where she was romanced by Marc Antony. Sadly, Classical Alexandria is long buried, but it has provided the foundations for a modern city where 19th century Greek and Italian influences still echo in some fine architecture and in the names attached to countless old-world cafes and patisseries.

Excursions Available at north_africa

    Pyramids of Giza

    Nearly 5,000 years ago, Giza became the royal burial ground (or necropolis) for Memphis, then capital of Egypt. In less than 100 years, three pyramid complexes were completed, each intended as a tomb. After a king's death, his body was brought by boat to the valley temple for preparation before being taken up the causeway and buried under the pyramid. For many years afterwards priests made daily offerings to the dead god-king in the adjacent mortuary temple. The Giza tombs are part of a belt of almost 100 pyramids that stretch from the outskirts of Cairo south across the desert to the oasis of Fayoum.

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