Tamnougalt – A Fascinating and Inspiring Destination
The village of Tamnougalt in the Draa River Valley of Morocco at one time served as a hub for Saharan import and export trade which was controlled by an influential group of families who also collected taxes from local agriculturists and small industries. The name Tamngougalt means “meeting point” in the Tachelhit dialect of Tamazight languages and a meeting point is exactly what this village was in the past. Today, however, Tamnougalt is a sleepy village and an interesting tourist attraction that boasts an impressive Kasbah and many other fascinating structures.
Many of the buildings in Tamnougalt have distinctive wall decorations and tapering towers. To counteract the fierce heat, all the houses are connected with covered passageways which keep them surprisingly cool. Many of the resident families are accustomed to tourists having a look at how they live, and visitors are assured of a warm welcome. The family sleeping quarters are situated around a central courtyard and there is usually a second level to the house which is used when the ground floor becomes to hot. The view from the tops of the houses over the Draa Valley is breath-taking and is a sight not easily forgotten. The river running through the valley irrigates the masses of palm trees in this stunning desert oasis.
It is not clear exactly when Tamnougalt was built, but it was the capital of the Mezguita oasis at the time when Taleb El Hassan was made caid (local governor) in the 18th century by the Alaouite sultan. His sons succeeded him and held sway over the region until driven out by Glaoua Mohammed Ibibta, a new caid from Telouet who proved to be very influential in the Draa region. In the 1920s a power struggle between the Glaoua and Mezguita caids over the control of the Draa region resulted in strained relations and various conflicts until finally a pact was made between opposing parties to end the conflict.
The Draa Valley, including the village of Tamnougalt, offers tourists an opportunity to explore one of the many facets of Morocco – a complex and fascinating country of vast contrasts.