- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
- Off the beaten track
Formerly the last city before the border with neighbouring Algeria, Oujda used to attract many travellers passing from one side of the border to the other, who stopped there for their first or last day in Morocco. Since 1995 and the closing of the border, Oujda has been on the fringe of the road network. It has been abandoned by travellers and it has lost its primary source of revenue.
However, Oujda is still a pleasant city with a relaxed atmosphere, what with its little medina and its modern centre. Not flamboyant, of course, but a stopping place that could prove to be pleasant during your trip to Morocco on the way to the region of Rif, the coast or the desert. Personally, I spent a night there and I have memories of hospitable inhabitants and a metropolis that was not exceptional but not unpleasant, where the almost total absence of tourists has the advantage of greatly facilitating your contact with the local population.
Ouja passed through many hands and influences before falling back under Moroccan control. The Berbers built the foundations of the city, then the Ottoman Empire seized it, followed by the Spanish colonisation, then the French had their grip on this territory, letting it exist as a protectorate.
All of these events, despite the apparent aggression, brought something positive to the city. Notably, during their time as a protectorate, they built a modern town which contrasts with the old medina. These towns are the remains of the French presence and are there to see in the main Moroccan cities. Touristically speaking, I suggest the Souk El Ma, meaning the Water Market, which originally was literally a place where they sold water for the region's irrigation systems. All the covered markets around El Attarin Square are also very interesting to visit.
Perhaps due to its proximity with Algeria, I found that this city was distinct compared to others I'd visited during my trip around Morocco I strongly recommend a visit, however be aware that the frontier with Algeria is closed for security reasons.
Oujda is a city of that you can just pass through , it is a transitory city, a stopover city. Situated on the Algerian border, it is lined by the Mediterranean sea to the north and the mountains to the south. It is this very combination that I have found makes it a very cosmopolitan city.
Oujda has the advantage of being right in the middle of it all, an hour from the coast (40 miles to the closest beach), but also you have the mountains or even the desert. It's therefore in my eyes a very interesting base for going out to explore the surrounding areas during a trip to Morocco.
Owing to the creation of lots of cultural events and diverse festivals, the city has developed itself more and more over these last ten years. Each summer in July an amazing international festival of Raï music takes place, where the biggest names of this musical genre are revealed.