The Draa River was crossed by the old Ksar Tamnougalt. Its village, which perfectly demonstrates the 16th-century architecture, is full of stories and history.
The Former capital of the Mezguita tribe, Ksar Tamnougalt is one of the oldest ksours that is still in good condition in the Draa Valley. Founded more than three centuries ago by a family of Caïds, who represented the sultan in the area, Ksar Tamnougalt occupied a strategic position.
On one hand, Tamnougalt had a commercial function along the caravan route from Marrakech to Tombouctou. On the other hand, it played a defensive role, protecting the Drâa Valley from other tribes’ invasions.
Having pledged allegiance to the Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef, caïd Si Ali, the family’s last caïd, was a fierce opponent of Thami El Glaoui. The caïd refused to adhere to the authority of the Pasha, who contributed to France’s colonial expansion in the south. In the 1940s, Caïd Si Ali was replaced with another one, after El Glaoui had dismissed him. He passed away in 1956, just a few years after the country gained independence. After the development of better infrastructure in the area, and the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, Tamnougalt would eventually lose its significance. Its huge Jewish population also moved to Israel.
An inspiring area
For centuries, Ksar Tamnougalt has dominated the oasis. It offers a stunning view of the Draa Valley. After walking through the labyrinth of corridors and semi-covered alleys, you will undoubtedly fall under its spell. Its massive entrance and the breathtaking panoramic view from inside will inspire you.
Tamnougalt’s buildings are known for their unique wall decorations and tapered towers. You can enter the Ksar through one of the four doors that close at the end of the day. The historical ksar is a fun place to discover. It includes spectacular Caïds’ residences, a marabout’s sanctuary (Sidi Abdellah ben Ali), a Koranic school, two mosques, a hammam, a synagogue, and the old Jewish Mellah.
To combat the intense heat, all of the houses are linked by covered passageways. These alleys lead to small squares where villagers used to meet for festivals, marriages, and other gatherings.
The majority of family homes have two levels. The rooms are arranged around a central courtyard; the first floor is used when the ground floor becomes too hot, and the roof is often open for contemplative relaxation. From the top, the view of the Draa Valley is breathtaking!
A fascinating museum has been created out of one of Tamnougalt’s kasbahs. There are a variety of daily life items on display, like a wooden tool with which they used to make mud bricks. Walking through the palm grove, you will come across the oasis’s plantations, including dates, pomegranates, henna, and even some wells.
In Amazigh, Tamnougalt means “the meeting place. “Moussem Ellama” is a cultural and religious festival that brings people from all over the region together. It takes place every first week of October.
The Kasbah of Caïd is often confused with the Ksar Tamnougalt. As you follow the road to Tamnougalt, you can pass the old Kasbah of Caïd on your left. Make sure not to confuse it with the Ksar Tamnougalt, which is a few hundred meters to the right.