Marrakech: An overview - Part 29

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Marrakech: An overview - Part 29

Road trips out of Marrakech – continued,

South of Tahanoute, the road winds uphill to Moulay Brahim which is named after a local saint. It has a ggreen-roofedshrine dedicated to him in the middle of the village, however as it is a religious place entry to non-Muslims is forbidden. The shrine is a popular pilgrimage spot, especially for women who want to start a family.

The village of Asni lies at a fork in the road. The road to the left leads up to the village of Imlil and the striking kasbahs Tamadot and Toubkal. Jbel Toubkal overlooks the view to the west, but there is not much else for tourists to explore in Asni itself. There are some shops selling knick-knacks but generally, you will have seen the same things in Marrakech at a lower cost. The highlight, if you can call it that, is the country market held on Saturdays which is the largest in the Atlas area. If you do take the left fork to Imlil you will be at the foot of Jbel Toubkal which is North Africa’s highest peak. Mountain guides can be hired in Imlil at the bureau des guides in the centre of the village. There are some basic budget hotels in the village but the Kasbah du Toubkal just up the hill is a much better option if you want to stay a while.

If you travel a further 10 miles south of Asni you find a pretty little place called Ouirgane. The actual village is hidden among the trees along the valley just above the Oued Ni? s River. There is a Jewish saint’s shrine and two salt factories here, one of which is modern while the other is traditional. You can just stop here for lunch or, if you fancy staying on in the village then you can spend the night at one of the two fascinating hotels, La Roseraie or the Au Sanglier Qui Fume.

Now you head South of Ouirgane towards Kasbah Talaat-n-Yacoub. The road here climbs steadily through a rocky and bare landscape. You pass through a small Berber hamlet called Ijoujak and then visible off to the right is the commanding hilltop fortress of Kasbah Talaat-n-Yacoub. This was once a stronghold of the Goundafi tribe who controlled access to the Tizi-n-Test until the early 20th century, when they were overcome by the French.

In roughly the same area is Tin Mal, the main attraction at Tin Mal is an ancient mosque that dates back to the time of the Almohads. Back in the 12th century, this was the heart of a mountain empire that had uni? ed local tribes under a militant version of Islam. It was from here that an army set out in 1144 to lay siege to Marrakech and went on to conquer the rest of Morocco. This mountain mosque provided the basic architectural prototype for the impressive Koutoubia in Marrakech. Though roo? ess, it continues to be the location for Friday prayers. As such that is the one day when it remains inaccessible to visitors.

Continued in part 30

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Page added on: 27 May 2018
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