Advertisement Close

Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane

posted on: Sep 29, 2021

Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane
Ifrane, “The Switzerland of Morocco. Photo: Wikipedia

By: Claire Boyle / Arab America Contributing Writer


The country of Morocco has so many interesting towns and cities as well as beautiful landmarks. From the astonishing city of Casablanca to Marrakech, Fes, and Rabat; Morocco has everything one might hope to experience. These places boast historical monuments, such as the Hassan II Mosque, the Jemaa el-Fnaa, and many others. In this article series, we will be featuring cities and landmarks in Morocco that are historically and culturally significant. In this twelfth installment, we will be traveling to Ifrane which is also known as “The Switzerland of Morocco.” We will learn about these beautiful landmarks by visiting Al Akhawayn University, Morocco’s English-language university, and the Ifrane National Park which houses many different kinds of amazing wildlife. Finally, we will learn about the history of the cities themselves as well as some of their famous and associated landmarks.

Historical Synopsis and Background of Ifrane:

Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane
A beautiful city street in Ifrane, Morocco. Photo: Wikipedia

The city of Ifrane, Morocco has a very interesting historical background. The town has gone through multiple iterations first as a settlement area in the 16th century. Then later on, as a city within French Protectorate Morocco in the 20th century. Ifrane is an amazing city that actually looks very much European. That is probably why it has earned the nickname, “The Switzerland of Morocco,”. The other reason why it is so intriguing is that, during the winter, the town gets a lot of snow! Yes, Morocco, the country with its beautiful desert architecture and Sahara sandscapes does get snow in the mountains, in this case, Middle Atlas Mountains.

The modern-day city of Ifrane was established in 1928. During the “French Protectorate administration where they used the town for a provincial administration. This was due to its exquisite Alpine climate. The town’s original purpose was to be a resort city so Europeans could escape the sweltering summer temperatures in the tropics. Ifrane continues to be used for numerous purposes including that of an “imperial city, mountain resort, college town, and an administrative center.” The buildings in and around Ifrane were built to look like Swiss chateaus and chalets since a lot of the people who were staying in the city were expatriates from Europe, and they wanted a little piece of home. Finally, after Morocco gained its independence from France, the city built some modern hotels, and Ifrane remains a popular tourist spot to go skiing and enjoying the mountains in the wintertime.

Historical Landmarks—Al Akhawayn University and the Ifrane National Park:

Al Akhawayn University:

Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane
Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. Photo: News Beezer

Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane is a primarily English-language institution in the country of Morocco. As one can see, its architectural style sort of combines both the looks of a Swiss chateau-Esque appearance mixed with materials from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions. The university is a “co-educational and independent institution, and it is located in the Middle Atlas Mountains.”. The school has only been around since 1995, and it is primarily funded by an endowment from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

The university boasts both undergraduate and graduate programs. They teach from the perspective of an American liberal arts education and curriculum. Their undergraduate programs span anywhere from science, engineering, urban planning and development, international studies, communications, and business administration, among others. Al Akhawayn’s graduate programs include international diplomacy, MENA studies, software, and computer engineering, and business. Their tuition is very affordable considering the cost of college in the United States. Per semester, Al Akhawayn averages a price tag of about $5600.00 including textbooks and other fees. Finally, the university is in a beautiful location, and it is only about 40 miles from the amazing city of Fes so there are always exciting things to do. Finally, the university also has a mosque on its grounds as well.

Ifrane National Park:

Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane
The stunning naturescapes and trees within the Ifrane National Park in Ifrane, Morocco. Photo: Lonely Planet

The Ifrane National Park in Ifrane Morocco known for its numerous animal species, makes up its unique biodiversity. They give us an insight into the country’s exquisite flora and fauna. The park encompasses many Berber villages so we get a sense of the everyday lives of villagers in Morocco as well as the beautiful animals who call the park their home. The park is “particularly known for its Atlas cedar trees, the Barbary Macaque (which are also an endangered species), wild pigs, wolves, and various types of birds including the Red Kite, Common Kestrel, and the Marbled Teal.”

If you are someone who loves bird-watching, then the Ifrane National Park should definitely be put on your bucket list! You can also find various species of monkeys, and other trees such as oak, juniper, and cedar forests around the park. The park’s original concept came in 1994, and in 2004, it was opened to the public. It serves to preserve the country’s unique ecosystems, and to prevent “resource exploitation.”. To conclude this piece, the Ifrane National Park is an amazing place of animals and plants. It is beautiful to see nature in its raw form which is just stunning!


Famous Cities in Morocco Series (Episode 12 of 13): Ifrane
Ifrane, Morocco’s alpine village. Photo: Amusing Planet

In conclusion, thank you for joining me on this twelfth episode of the series “Famous Cities in Morocco.”. This time we journeyed to the wondrous city of Ifrane which in my opinion is one of the most stunning places on the planet due to its Alpine village appearance and the fact that this part of Morocco gets snow in the winter. Stay tuned for the final installment featuring the amazing windy city of Taroudant! I hope you got to learn a little bit more about the majestic landscapes and landmarks that Morocco has to offer. If you are ever in Ifrane, I highly recommend you visit the city itself, the exquisite Al Akhawayn University, and finally, take a walk around the Ifrane National Park, I promise you will not be disappointed!

This is the twelfth installment in a series of thirteen focusing on cities in Morocco with an emphasis on its history and famous landmarks. Each article will feature a(n) historical synopsis about the city and 2 to 3 significant landmarks. Keep an eye out for the next article about Taroudant coming soon. Thank you for reading!

To read episode 11 which features the city of Ouarzazate, the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, and the Atlas Corporation Studios, please click here!

Check out Arab America’s blog here!