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Land Of Portals

Land Of Portals

A visual journey through Morocco capturing markets, mysticism and mosaics in 24 images.

Marian Brehmer

Morocco is a feast for the senses. It's colorful, deep, vivid, historical, sometimes unnerving and full of beauty.

This selection of images conveys something of the Moroccon spirit, showing how the sacred intermingles with the profane. How can we discover the sacred in the profane and the profane in the sacred?

My two-week journey started in Marrakesh, known as the City of the Seven Saints. These seven patrons are buried in Sufi shrines that lie dotted around the medina, Marrakesh's old city. In some of those shrines I felt a powerful energy which brought time to a standstill for me.

Fez is a city which – despite modernization – retains something of its old air as one of the primary centers of Islamic learning and mysticism.

The hilltop town of Moulay Idriss near Mèknes is Morocco's main pilgrimage site. It's known for the mausoleum of Idris I. – a descendant of Prophet Muhammad and also Morocco's first Islamic ruler.

I flew back from Casablanca, Morocco's economic capital and most "European" city.  

Cover photo: In the courtyard of Al-Qarawiyin, a 9th-century madrasa and one of the world's oldest mosques.

Pomegranate juice stand in medina of Marrakesh.
Pomegranate juice stand in the medina of Marrakesh.
A shrine keeper serves mint tea during a gathering on the occasion of mawlid (the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday) at the shrine of Sidi Bel Abbas in Marrakesh.
Graveyard behind the shrine of Sidi Bel Abbas.
A typical grocery store in the medina of Marrakesh.
Cycling the medina.
A girl guarding the threshold of Imam Abderrahim Souhaili's shrine in Marrakesh.
Another one of the countless hidden Sufi shrines in the lanes of Marrakesh.
Graveyard felines in Fez. The writing below is the Islamic profession of unity: "La illaha il Allah" – There is no god (reality, existence) but God.
Old Fez at dawn.
Ancient mosque at the shrine of Sidi Ben Slimane in Marrakesh.
Birds fly at dusk above a graveyard in Mèknes.
A pilgrim scooping water from a fountain in the courtyard of Sidi Ben Slimane's shrine in Marrakesh.
Town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun with Morocco's most sacred site, the mausoleum of Moulay Idris I.
In the lanes of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.
The profane and the sacred side by side – community prayer in front of a bank in downtown Casablanca.