Grand History of Tin Mal
Located on the Tizi-n-Test Pass, around mid-way between Marrakech and Taroudant, the historical site of Tin Mal provides insight into a fascinating aspect of Morocco’s history – that of the Almohad dynasty. Founded in the early 12th century, the Almohad dynasty went on to conquer a vast region of northern Africa including the area which is now Portugal and Southern Spain, and as far as the northern shoreline of Libya.
Tin Mal has great historic significance as it is considered to be the spiritual center of the founder of the Almohad dynasty, Mohamed Ibn Toumert (or Tumart). This is where he and his supporters retreated to upon being driven out of Marrakech by the Almoravids, and Tin Mal became the base from where the Almohads launched a prolonged campaign to lay siege to the city. Mohamed Ibn Toumert never saw the fall of Marrakech to the Almohads, as he died in 1130 and the city finally gave way in 1147. Once this happened, Tin Mal lost its military importance, but continued to have an important role as a religious and cultural center. Tin Mal once again played a vital role as a place of retreat for the Almohads over a century later when the Merenids took control of Morocco. Tin Mal became the final resting place of the Almohad rulers.
The Tin Mal mosque was built in 1153, with fortification walls being added to it for protection against attack. At that time the town of Tin Mal had already begun to decline. Today there are some villages in the region, but very little remains of the town that served as a stronghold to the Almohad dynasty, and the Tin Mal mosque remains as the main attraction of this historical site. Tin Mal offers non-Muslim travelers the opportunity of entering a mosque and examining the interior – which is not generally permitted. Quite extensive renovations have taken place in the mosque, with newer additions, such as some of the supporting pillars, being left undecorated so that visitors can distinguish between the original parts of the mosque and the renovations. Visitors may climb the stairs to the roof for a view of the prayer hall below, where the mihrab indicating the direction of Mecca remains as it was originally constructed. The view of the surrounding countryside is breathtaking and one can imagine a time when dynasties fought for control of this beautiful piece of Africa known as Morocco.