Ifrane – a place in Africa where you feel like a ski resort in the Alps
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If you’re tired of the heat and want to find yourself in a European resort, the best option is to go to… Africa. After all, it is on this continent there is a surprisingly picturesque, unique town of Ifrane. Here grow cedars and there is snow. And the ski slopes and houses, covered with pink tiles, complement the typical European landscape. Ifrane is considered the coldest place in Africa.
A typical Alpine resort
The strange resort is located in Morocco, a few hours by car from Casablanca or Rabat. However, there is nothing Moroccan about this place. It is very green, there are many parks and lakes and pastures, and in winter you can often see snow and people skiing or sledging in the mountains. In fact, nearby, in a volcanic crater, at an altitude of about 1800 meters are equipped with five ski slopes.
In winter temperatures often drop below zero, and it was in Ifrane once recorded a record for the African continent, frosts of -24 ° C. And in recent years, the city has even developed a tradition of holding a “snow festival” in late January to coincide with the winter season.
The colonizers missed their homeland too much
Ifrane was built by the French at the beginning of the last century during colonization. Most likely, the Europeans living in Africa and discovering a “slice of winter” in the mountains, decided to furnish it in the European style, as a place of rest from the African exhausting heat and as a reminder of their homeland.
It was the so-called “mountain station”, the architecture of whose houses necessarily had pine panels, pointed roofs and stone walls. Especially from France were brought here and planted European chestnut and pine trees.
Several cultures co-exist here.
When Morocco gained independence, the locals also came to love the town, expanding its territory and building a mosque. And in 1995, there appeared here its own university with a campus. As a rule, Europeans or wealthy Moroccans come here to rest, because local prices for low-income citizens are too high.
The city has become more modern and there is a classic Moroccan market, but the “alpine style” of Ifrane is officially included in its construction code, so it is unlikely to change its appearance in the near future.
By the way, until the 1930s and 1940s, the locals here did not have any houses, and settled in caves built in the limestone rock. Under some of the houses are still these former dwellings, which the owners now use as cellars. As for the ancient cave settlements that existed on the site of present-day Ifrane, archaeologists date them to the Neolithic period. In the Middle Ages the Berbers settled here.
A monument to the last wild Berber lion killed here in the Atlas Mountains in the 1920s. It is carved out of a block of limestone. /Photo:wikipedia.org
Ifran is known not only as “African Switzerland,” but also as the most peaceful and environmentally friendly place. There are no noisy entertainment, not counting the cozy cafes. Well, the cool mountain air, impregnated with the smell of cedars, a natural national park with a unique ecosystem and the lack of industrial enterprises allowed Ifran to take the first place in the ranking of the cleanest cities in the world.
In the best-known official ranking, it takes 22nd place and is right after Oslo, and the online edition of MBC Times, making a list of environmentally friendly cities, put it in second place (first – Calgary, Canada). The magazine compiled the rating, taking into account such parameters as the availability of water, garbage collection, the work of sewage systems, the lack of air pollution and the intensity of traffic.
On all of these points, Ifrane received the best scores. By the way, bio-indicators of air purity are considered unique butterflies living in the Tizgit Nature Park, located in the Ifran valley. It is by their well-being local environmentalists determine the state of the environment, and so far it is not a cause for concern.
There is also a sky-blue city in Morocco, and those who are going to visit the country, should definitely see it too.