Located in the Oriental, which corresponds to the region in the north-east of the kingdom, Oujda is the only Moroccan city to be able, during a single day, to offer the visitor a hike in the mountains to the north of the city.
On the Béni-Snassen mountains, to make a circuit in the desert or to bask on the Mediterranean coast, the sea is barely sixty kilometers away.
The town is also 100 kilometers from Nador and 115 kilometers from Mellilia. A brand new highway, also connects since the end of July 2011 Oujda to Fez in barely 2 hours and 40 minutes by car.
Born in 994, according to historians, Oujda, a city of commerce and cultures, displays more than a thousand years of existence and presents a past charged with a particularly rich history.
A visit to the old medina, now the souk, allows you to take stock of it. It was in the 11th century that the city took off as a stopover town on the trade route between West and East Africa, with caravans bringing back gold dust and feathers. Ostriches, ivory and slaves from present-day Sudan.
Today, the city and its surroundings provide a very tangible insight into the charms of living in an oasis.
And who says oasis, says water. Largely thanks to its mountain ranges, Oujda and its neighboring towns are fed by springs, some of hot water.
A liquid so rare elsewhere that has allowed here to raise an important vegetation and create pleasant shaded areas. But the Moroccan city is also a cultural center with, in particular, an international raï festival which takes place every year in July.
Located very close to the border with Algeria, the city of Oujda – or “capital of the Orient” is not the first one that comes to mind when talking about Morocco. However, there are a number of things to do and see in Oujda that make it a city as dynamic as it is atypical.
It is also a unique city from which it is easy to escape to the sea or the desert… in the same day. Here is our top 10 things to do in Oujda :
1. Go for a walk in the Medina and the Souk of Oujda
You only have one day in Oujda? Go to the Medina and the Souk! This is perhaps the first thing to do in any city in the Middle East… The medina – or old town – and the souk are indeed a pleasant way to establish a first contact with the local population.
However, be careful what you buy there because counterfeiting remains present.
Oujda is no exception to the mix of flavors and scents that can often be found in a souk! By the way, do not hesitate to discover the “Souk El Ma” or “water market”: in the past, we sold … rainwater! This was used for the surrounding gardens. Atypical, right?
You will not fail to appreciate the arcades and ramparts of the medina as well as the charm of the stones marked by the sun. Clearly a must if you spend a day in Oujda.
2. Maison Dar Sebti
This “mini-palace” is little known and yet it is worth the detour! This residence was offered to the city by a merchant from Fez, Abdellatif Senti, at the end of the 1940s.
Today, it is a village hall in which weddings and events take place, but it is also the seat of the Center for Studies and Research on Gharnati music.
An authentic and colorful place that you will not miss to visit in Oujda!
3. Lalla Meryem Park
Just opposite the Maison Dar Sebti, the Lalla Meryem park is one of those essential places to visit in Oujda. After a day of walking under the Oujda sun, you will enjoy a walk in the shade of its palm trees! You will also discover a lively place, imbued with culture with an open-air theatre, the Museum of Traditional Weapons.
In summer, it is also home to many music festivals.
Among the best known in the city of Oujda, you will also find the Lalla Aïcha park, a park of about twenty hectares with everything you need to let off steam: playground, horse riding or tennis club, swimming pool… If you spend a day in Oujda, don’t miss a trip to one of these parks.
3. Bab Sidi Abdelwahad
This is the old city gate, located east of Oujda. Very beautiful with its amber color, this door offers many architectural details to admire.
Enhanced by the large esplanade on which it overlooks, it is also a very important crossing point in the city. The other city gates are: Bab El Gharbi, Bab Ouled Amran, Bab Sidi Aïssa and Bab Al Jamai.
5. The Al Kabir Mosque and its three fountains
There are several mosques in Oujda… Also nicknamed “The Great Mosque”, the Al Kabir Mosque is definitely one of the things to see in Oujda because it is the oldest monument in its Medina.
Built in 1298, the Mosque has since been renovated several times in order to retain none of its splendour. Good to know: to the right of the entrance, take the alley that will lead you to Médersa mérinide, a school whose architecture and tranquility will mark your visit to Oujda.
6. Make a hammam in Oujda
Discovering the Moorish baths of Oujda is one of the activities to do in Oujda… even if many of them have unfortunately been destroyed.
Among those which remain, the Hammam El-Bali which means “old hammam” – sometimes also nicknamed hammam of Sidi Yahya (from the name of the patron saint of the city) bears its name well, because it is the oldest in Oujda.
It is therefore of real historical interest even if some prefer the “Ajjarda” or “Jarda” hammam not far away, and its very beautiful architecture with its dome and its fountains.
7. The oasis of Sidi Yahya
A few kilometers from the Medina of Oujda, Sidi Yahya has something to soothe you, with its palm trees and its stream. It is also a crossroads of inter-religious encounters, Muslims, Christians and Jews rub shoulders there. You can see the mausoleum of Sidi Yahya who is the patron saint of the city.
Due to its location, Oujda allows you to go in turn to the sea, in the forest or in the middle of the desert, and all that during the day.
8. Sidi Maâfa Forest:
a few kilometers from Oujda, this forest is an ideal place to relax in Oujda and have a beautiful view of the city by climbing a little.
9. Saidia beach:
About sixty kilometers from Oujda, Saidia is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Morocco. With its magnificent beach, but also its many festivals and events, Saïdia is very popular and shines internationally.
10. The Marchica lagoon:
The lagoon of Nador is a unique natural site! Its unique flora and fauna (even threatened for certain marine species) makes this lagoon a site of particular interest around Oujda.
11. The Zegzel Valley:
there are two prehistoric caves which are among the top things to see in Oujda and around, the “Camel Cave” and the “Pigeon Cave”.
So, ready for your trip to Oujda?