Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Road of the Kasbahs in Morocco

A kasbah (Arabic: "القصبة") or Qassabah is a type of medina, Islamic city, or fortress.
It was a place for the local leader to live and as a defense when the city was under attack. A kasbah has high walls which usually have no windows. Sometimes, they were built on the top of hill to make them easier to defend. Some of them were also placed near the entrance of harbors.

Having a kasbah built was a sign of wealth of some families in the city. Almost all cities had their kasbah, this building being something necessary for the city to survive. When colonization started in 1830, in northern Algeria, there were a great number of kasbahs that lasted for more than 100 years.
The word kasbah may also be used to describe the old part of a city, in which case it has the same meaning as a medina quarter. The Spanish word alcazaba is a cognate naming the equivalent building in Andalusia or Moorish Spain. In Portuguese, it derived into the word alcáçova
    Ouarzazate is one of the best points of departure to discover the kasbahs and the Sahara in Morocco. These citadels constructed from rammed earth, which are both simple and sumptuously decorated with geometrical designs, are representative of the Morocco Berber culture. You’ll depart for Tinghir, traveling the rugged Road of a Thousand Kasbahs that rise up like turreted sand castles along this ancient caravan trading route. This area has long been a popular location for Hollywood films such as The Last Temptation of Christ, Jewel of the Nile, and most recently Hideous Kinky. The central region is one of the most exciting and romantic destinations of Morocco nestled along rich river valleys, palmeries and burnished mud-brick homes ablaze in vibrant color under the shelter of the blue desert sky

    Heading west (and from Ouarzazate), you will arrive in Tinghir, overlooked by an impressive kasbah. Tinghir is the ideal departure point to visit the Todra gorges whose impressive walls can be up to 300 m in height. As you continue along your route, you will reach Boulmane and its Tizzarouine kasbah, at the crossroads of the gorges and the Dades valley, also known as the "valley of 1000 kasbahs". Towards the Dades valley heading north, you will arrive in N’Kob, its 52 kasbahs and its palm grove. Further east, Erfoud, the date capital with its right-angled streets. then a drive to Merzouga for a Camel ride and dinner and overnight at a bedwin / Nomad tent to have a taste of the Nomad life style.

      the valley of roses further on, you will find the fortified village of Kelaat M’Gouna, where the valley takes the name valley of the roses. It is an area reputed for the production of rose water, a very fashionable beauty product, and also used for medicinal purposes. A few kilometres further, Skoura has a palm grove overlooked by kasbahs, all of which are magnificent… Finally, just before arriving back at Ouarzazate, the Ait Ben Haddou kasbah, its ksar and contiguous villages will make a wonderful end to your amazing voyage.