Remnants of Zagora & Tamegroute (pt 2/2)
Near Zagora, only about 10 miles (18 km), is the town of Tamegroute. If you are driving, then follow the signs, and if you are taking a grand taxi, you’ll have no trouble getting there. The name itself means “border town” and it was, once, when Algeria’s borders stretched all the way up to the foot of Zagora. The area is famous because it was once the home, and is now the sanctuary of, Sidi Mohammed Ben Naceur.
The Naciri brotherhood is monk-like in their devotion to this sage. And, surrounding the area are various patients praying for a cure to their ailments, whether mental or physical. Sidi Ben Naceur was an important leader of the area, considered a saint, and revered for his scholarly and peacemaking abilities.
The Zaouia Naciri contains the tomb of Naceur and still contains the famous medersa, or Koranic school, dating back to the 1600s. The Koranic library is also impressive as it once held nearly 50,000 Arabic works that have now either been lost, are still in use, or have been sent to various museums across the country. The pre-university school is still in use and was once a major hub of learning in Morocco. Young scholars had access to amazing works, including that of math, philosophy, biology, astronomy, and even their very own Berber poetry. The cooperative of pottery workers in the area is also worth a visit and you can expect to see the full process right before your eyes.
Overall, Zagora, the surrounding mount and oasis, and the once-flourishing town of Tamegroute make this area a worthwhile side-trip to anyone exploring the south of Morocco. The townspeople are friendly, but don’t be surprised if you are approached by several “guides” wanting to show you around. In Tamegroute, you can hire an official guide who will explain the true history of the area and its importance to the learning and scholarship of the day.