Travel the Historic Route de L’Unité

Stretching over a distance of 150 kilometers and joining the village of Ketama in the Rif region to the city of Fez, the Route de L’Unité is considered by many to be an important symbol of independence for Morocco. While the zigzagging road is no longer in common use, it offers some of Morocco’s most spectacular scenery for those who have the time to travel it. Ketama is located at an elevation of 1,520 meters and offers cool summers and opportunities for winter snow sports on the nearby Jebel Tidiquin, which at 2,448 meters is the highest of the magnificent Rif-Atlas Mountains. Picturesque settlements at the foot of Jebel Tidiquin are known for their high quality crafts, particularly leather work, all made in the traditional manner.

Construction of the Route de L’Unité was started in 1957 with the purpose of joining the city of Fez, which had been ruled by the French, to the Rif Mountains, which had been under Spanish rule. This was an impressive symbolic gesture highlighting a united and independent Morocco, and most of the grueling labor was undertaken by volunteers. Reportedly up to 15,000 men from around Morocco worked on the project in the mornings, devoting the afternoons to university lectures. Today there are quicker routes to travel than the Route de L’Unité, and the road is used mostly by tourists and locals.

Travelers along the Route de L’Unité will come across a number of charming villages, with Taounate being the largest, and the venue for the local market held every Friday. At the beginning of October each year, the village of Tissa has a horse festival which attracts horse breeders and horse owners from around the country. Festivities include displays of riders and steeds in perfect harmony showcasing their grace, speed, endurance and agility. Olive trees, figs and pomegranates are a common sight along the Route de L’Unite and in December, visitors should be sure to visit Rafsaï for the annual olive festival. Located just beyond the village of Oulad Azame – known for its talented weavers – the Holy Spring of Fertility is located Bouadel village. Certainly, for visitors who want a glimpse into rural Morocco, the historic Route de L’Unite is worth considering.