Pay a Visit to Taourirt Kasbah
The town of Ouarzazate is located in the area where Morocco’s Ziz, Drâa and Dadés valleys meet, and not too far from the town stands the Kasbah Taourirt, considered to be one of the most impressive structures of its kind. Kasbah Taouirirt was built in the early 19th century and was used as a base for the powerful el Glaoui clan which controlled the caravan route through the region at the time. With a backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery and the alluring Sahara desert, the Kasbah is classified as a monument of significant historical and cultural value and has been recognized as such by UNESCO’s world heritage program.
The palace building has almost three hundred rooms, and more than twenty riads formed part of the settlement which was occupied by the sons, cousins and extended family of el Glaoui chiefs, along with their servants. They were located there to protect the interests of the clan chiefs in this strategically important area. This control was supported by the French authorities during colonial rule, as the el Glaoui leaders kept the southern tribes in check.
Visitors to Taourirt will find a maze of passageways, gates and steps joining different levels of buildings and towers. The manner in which the buildings are closely packed together offers some protection from the heat and the sun, with ventilation coming from the central courtyard. While some of the homes have deteriorated with the passing of time, others have been preserved and even restored, with the assistance of UNESCO, to offer a true reflection of the way of life when it was occupied by el Glaoui clan members. Apartments and former reception rooms, as well as the palace kitchens can be seen – all with beautifully preserved cedar ceilings and painted stucco walls.
Local families living toward the rear of Taourirt Kasbah are keen to show visitors around and offer gems of historical information – for a fee. To the right of the Kasbah is a café which offers visitors refreshment and a place to relax and watch Taourirt Kasbah being drenched in shades of gold and copper by the setting sun.