|Posted by Alecia Cohen on November 29, 2014 at 7:05 AM||comments (77)|
Morocco is such a melting pot of cultures and identities. The Berbers (or Amazigh; plural: Imazighen, meaning “free men”were Morocco's indigenous peoples, settled in the north-western corner of Africa across modern-day Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria and beyond, long before the arrival of Arabs from the East in the 7th century. The beach resort city of Agadir - known for its golden sands and luxurious beachfront resorts - is also the capital of the Souss-Massa-Draa region.
As such it is a bustling hub for traders and farmers of the region as well as tourists. Traveling inland from Agadir, the road towards Taroudant and the Anti Atlas mountains traverses the fertile flood plains of the Souss and Massa rivers. This area is one of Morocco's prime agricultural regions. Protected by the Anti Atlas Mountains from the harsh climate of the Sahara, and fed each spring by melt water, these plains are one of Morocco's main breadbaskets. This is not to say that life is not harsh for the sedentary agriculturalists of the Souss and the Anti Atlas. For centuries, these regions have been the source of large migratory flows to Moroccan and European cities as young men sought to better their circumstances.
Given the precarity of life, the irregularity of the rains, and the risk of attack, the local Chleuh Berbers developed a means to store their wealth - most often in the form of cereals but also important legal documents and gold or silver brought up through the Sahara and perhaps offered as a dowry. Communal granaries - often fortified - were constructed in pisé (rammed mud) in hilltop villages to store such items. Made from the local earth, an agadir (as they are known in the local Berber Dialect, Tashelhiyt - the plural is igoudar) is an organic structure and often visually almost indivisible from the local environment. Inside, each tribe or family would have their own compartment, locked with an elaborate wooden or metal key. Compartments were stacked on top of each other, some requiring a wooden ladder to gain access. Villages were often inhabited by just a handful of families, so there was a collective motivation for the protection of the agadir and a guardian would be appointed. Barley could be stored for up to 25 years. Almonds could last up to 20, and argan nuts - oil-yielding nuts indigenous to the area - for up to 30 years. Honey, ghee and oil stored in terracotta or glass jars would also last several years.
The agadir was also a means of defence. Tribesmen would store their arms inside and women, children and even livestock could seek protection in the agadir's central courtyard in times of siege. In peaceful times, strategically placed igoudar could profit from passing camel trains as places of shelter and trade. Some agadir featured communal services such as a small mosque, a council chamber or a blacksmith and so are seen as an early form of urbanisation of the Berbers. In this way, over time the agadir mutated into the ksar (castle, the Berber word for which is agherm).
The routes between the main Anti-Atlas cities of Taroudant, Tafraoute, Tata and Tiznit make great road trips - each is different and fascinating in its own way. This area, however, is also prime agadir-spotting territory. A few have been restored, some are even signposted. But for the most part, these structures are hidden, neglected and sometimes even in ruins. A local guide can locate them and find the key-holder. Villagers are often pleased that outsiders express an interest in their indigenous culture. The area around Igherm (a key crossroads between Tata or Tafraoute and Tardoudant) is particularly rich in this aspect of Berber built heritage, but the igoudar are often hard to find and may require a 4-wheel drive vehicle for access. Depending on your itinerary, your
Travel Exploration driver and guide could take you to the agadir of Anammet (near Igherm), Dou Tgadir (off the P1723 road) or Taguent (along the same road). On the Igherm-Tafraoute road (the R106), you can find igoudar at Issouka and Amane n Tazart. Kasbah Tizourgane (on the Ait Baha alternative route between Taroudant and Tafraoute) is easily accessible. Situated on a hill in a low plain, this fortified village is being sensitively restored by descendents of the original three families who lived here. Using heritage funding and income from the on-site guest house, the communal areas such as the mosque and agadir are slowly being restored to give visitors a real insight into kasbah life.
Many of the communal granaries have spiritual or religious connections. In the Ait Bouguemez Valley - further north in the High Atlas Mountains - the granary on a pyramid-shaped hill overlooking the valley marks the site of a former Jewish pilgrimage to the saint, Sidi Moussa. In the typical way that pre-Islamic beliefs permeate modern religious practices, the granary is said to offer fertility benefits to female visitors. The agadir is easy to reach and the guardian is happy to show visitors around the small museum to local mountain life inside. If your itinerary in Morocco does not allow for an exploration of the igoudar in situ, the museums in Agadir (Museum Municipal du Patrimoine Amazigh) and Marrakech (the Berber Museum in the Majorelle Gardens) offer a great opportunity for an insight into Berber life. The museum in Agadir in particular has excellent exhibits of agadir keys plus jewelry and family documents found in igoudar, such as 18th and 19th century marriage certificates and wills.
These were carved in wood or written on paper scrolls stored inside bamboo canes or leather pouches. The interesting aspect of these texts is that they are written in the local Berber dialect, Tashelhiyt, but using Arabic script (the Berber script being a modern invention). So, the word agadir means both fortress and collective storage. If you visit the modern city of Agadir the evidence of its former fortress and Kasbah are long gone, destroyed by the earthquake of 1960, but you may have the opportunity to visit the original kind of agadir in its culturally rich Souss and Anti Atlas hinterland.
Written by Lynn Sheppard Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients. You can contact Lynn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about a Tour to Agadir or Berber Granaries Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 18, 2013 at 8:30 AM||comments (1)|
In Morocco in July and August when temperatures are on the high side, you can avoid the sweltering heat of the cities by heading to coastal resorts or the Atlas Mountain retreats where cooler breezes allow you to escape inland heat. Agadir’s long clean crescent beach on the Atlantic coast, offer opportunities for surfing, snorkeling, wind surfing and jet skiing. Most of the larger hotels and surf clubs on the beach rent out water sports equipment and surf boards and cool sea breezes keep the temperature down. Further up the coast the ancient fishing port town of Essaouira with its ramparts, long idyllic beach and sea front, provides opportunities for wind surfing and other water sports . It has a reputation for being windy but temperatures are much lower than inland which means that you can enjoy the fun of Essaouira’s colorful relaxed souks and walk the ramparts with their 17th century cannons or simply enjoy the thriving cafe life and many good restaurants. You can take a private tour to Essaouira with a Morocco travel agency which is the easiest option. Other less convenient options of travel to Essaouira is the CTM and Supratour buses offer regular daily luxury airconditioned bus trips from Marrakech to Essaouira return, which take three hours with a stop on the way at a roadside café. This for budget travelers and the way to travel if you do not have other transport arranged or the budget for a private Essaouira Tour.
[/caption] Two more relaxed alternatives to Essaouira are Sidi Kaouki some 20 kms drive from Essaouira and the alluring lagoon and beaches at Oualidia which is between Safi and El Jadida. Both locations are quiet and uncommercialised. Sidi Kaouki is a delightful small town with a few small hotels and an unspoilt beach which is also ideal for surfing and relaxing. The Hotel Villa Soleil, is a white villa with a garden and restaurant close to the beach. Other hotels along the beach are Hotel windy Kaouki, a traditional Moroccan residence and Hotel Blue Kaouki. Oualidia is becoming more popular with tourists. The lagoon and extensive beaches were a well kept secret and a favorite of Moroccans as a seaside venue and a place to unwind, the beaches extend for miles. It is a beautiful natural beach and fishing location where surfing and swimming in the shallow waters of the lagoon can be enjoyed by all the family. It is ideal for swimming, surfing, wind-surfing or water-skiing. You can also hire a kayak and explore the lagoon or go fishing. There is a French run surfing school for children and beginners. Oulalidia is a very important ecological location. Among the marshes and wetlands there are curlews, flamingos, sandpipers, plovers, and many other migrating species making it a paradise for bird watchers. It is the main place in Morocco for oysters and you can enjoy them and the best seafood in the restaurants and small hotels along the beach. The most luxurious hotel is the luxury boutique hotel La Sultana Oualidia situated on the edge of the lagoon. It has an infinity pool ringed with jacuzzis, whose waters seem to merge with those of the lagoon, and an exotic, terraced garden as well as a five star health spa and an underwater restaurant. Alternatively you can drive to the Atlas Mountains to places such as the trekking town of Imlil and the Shangri la setting of the Kasbah Toubkal surrounded by mountains with outstanding views from its terrace. You can experience the life of the Berber people and the cool clear air of the mountains. Even a trip to the Ourika Valley with its bubbling streams or further up to the seven waterfalls of Sebti Fatima which leads on to trekking in the mountains. The ski station of Oumkaimeden offers views over the Vale of Marrakech. Other mountain locations include Midelt, Ifrane and Azrou which are high up winter stations and offer a cooler temperate climate with forests and national parks to explore. Even when you are in Marrakech, you can find a shady spot in the eco paradise of the Majorelle Gardens owned by Yves Saint Laurent or the green palm tree lined Moulay Abdesalam Park off Avenue Mohammed VI or the delightful Harti Park near the Place 16 Novembre and Macdonalds which has a children’s playing ground with two large stone dinasours. You can take the family for the day to the Oasiria Water Park just outside Marrakech,or the Beldi Country Club 6 km outside with its adult and two children’s swimming pools, Spa and three restaurants, set in fine gardens with roses,olive trees and flowering plants. This is also an hotel and the club serves non guests. For the seriously trendy there is Nikki Beach in the Palmeraie which has a DJ with groovy music as well as an excellent restaurant and swimming pool. Many hotels and some restaurants in Marrakech now welcome guests and nonresidents for lunch and a dip in their pool.
For More Information about the Morocco in Summer in Agadir & Essaouira Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM||comments (3)|
If you want a relaxing stay in an authentic walled Berber town look no further than the medieval town of Taroudant. It lies beside the High Atlas mountains in the Sous Valley in the southern part of Morocco and it has retained its authentic Berber character and roots. Taroudant is well placed as a base for exploring the region to the east of Agadir and its beaches, it is on the road to Ouarzazate and the Sahara desert and adrive over the dramatic Tizi n'Test pass to Marrakech. It is said to resemble a smaller version of Marrakech with its walls and ramparts surrounding the city. For a very short time Tarodaunt was indeed the capital of the Saadian dynasty used as a base for attacking the Portuguese in Agadir. The Saadians then moved to Marrakech. Taroudant saw its golden age during the reign of Mohammed ash-Sheikh who constructed the city walls and built the great mosque and its minaret in 1528. Taroudant unlike the imperial cities of Fes, Marrakech and Meknes does not have a ville nouvelle, a modern part of town, which greatly adds to its authentic ancient atmosphere and charm. It has a population of around 70,000 but retains its small market town character. Taroudant remains a traditional Berber fortified town enclosed by its ramparts which are the best preserved in Morocco, nearly 6 kilometres long with bastions and nine gates that still remain intact.
A perfect way to see the town walls is to take a horse drawn caleche or hire a bicycle. It was an important staging and trading post on the ancient camel trading route and there is still a small tannery outside the ramparts selling products made from camel hide such as leather bags,sandals and belts. The town is well known for its quality leather products. Its souks are welcoming and relaxed and excellent value for discerning shoppers, especially for local crafts and Berber and Tuareg jewellery, for which it is renowned. Prices here are significantly less than in the big cities like Marrakec and Fes. There are souks near each of the two main squares, Assarag and Talmoklate. There is also a weekly souk outside the city walls, near the new university district. Taroudant has always benefited from the diverse agricultural produce from the Souss and remains a local market town .The Berber market, called Jnane al-Jaami, sells spices and dried fruits but mostly clothes and household goods. The Arab souk, however, specialises in handicrafts such as terracotta, wrought iron, pottery, brass and copper, leather and carpets, rugs and jewellery. It is a place to gain a real insight into Morocco's everyday culture and environment. It has a very equitable climate in winter and in summer it is cooled by the current from the Canaries. It is therefore no surprise that Taroudant is home to some of the best hotels in the south of Morocco; they include the the exclusive haunt of the rich and famous, the Hotel Gazelle D'Or, which began as hunting lodge for a French baron in the 1920's and was converted into a hotel after the Second World War, it has superb grounds.
Other well known hotels include the Dar Zitoun and the Hotel Palais Salam and there is a full range of hotel accommodation in town. The Riad al Hossoun also comes highly recommended and has a superb garden and views of the Atlas Mountains. Activities outside Taroudant include visiting Berber villages in the foot hills of the High Atlas and Anti Atlas mountains and the Oases and experiencing the wild life and birds in the Souss Massa National Park The village of Tioute 36 kms from Taroudant has a Kasbah on a hill which has been partly converted into a restaurant area with a pool which is alluring in the summer heat. The ancient fortified village of Freija is 11 km from Taroudant also has a Kasbah, now the Riad Freija.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 23, 2012 at 7:25 AM||comments (1)|
Tarodaunt Walled City[/caption] Taroudant is a Moroccan city located in the Sous Valley in the southern part of the country. It is situated east from Agadir on the road to Ouarzazate and south from Marrakech. Tarodaunt can be easily visited as a day tour from Agadir. Tarodaunt is called the "Grandmother of Marrakech" because it is a scaled down, slowed down town that resembles Marakech with its orange colored surrounding ramparts. Since Agadir is only one hour from Tarodaunt a Tarodaunt Tour is the perfect way to spend an afternoon when arriving from a cruise ship at the Agadir Port.
Tarodaunt Souk[/caption] Tarodaunt has the feel of a small fortified market town on a caravan route and is known for its local crafts like like jewelry and carpet. On a Tarodaunt Tour from Agadir the city can be explored fully as a result of it's intimate size. Unlike Marrakech, Taroudant contains almost the whole city within its ancient walls. Recently, however, a new area is being developed outside the city walls around the huge campus of a faculty of the Ibn Zohr university of Agadir. Tarodaunt was occupied by the Almoravides in 1506. On a Tour of Tarodaunt you can explore the sites and sounds of this charming old city.
Tarodaunt Tour from Agadir - Day Trip Itinerary
► Pick up at your Hotel or the Port in Agadir.
► By the roadside you will see Argan Trees, with their gnarled and twisted trunks. This tree is typical of south-west Morocco and produces nuts that are the source of a rich and tasty oil.
►See goats clambering along the knotted tree trunks and branches to feed on the leaves and fruit, and your vehicle will stop to let you take photos. Continue on to the beautiful walled city of Taroudant, former capital of the Saadian dynasty. Stop for photographs by the ramparts and then visit the Jnane Soussia restaurant for a refreshing cup of mint tea or a glass of soda.
► Visit an Argan Cooperative whereby you can see how Argan nuts, oil and butter are made from the Argan Tree.
► Afterwards explore the medina (the maze of narrow streets near the town center) and visit the excellent souks. The Berber market in Taroudant sells vegetables and spices and also clothes and household goods, while the Arab souk specializes in handicrafts such as terracotta, wrought iron, pottery, brass and copper, leather, carpets and rugs, and jewellery
►Visit the ancient walls of Tarodaunt that extend around the entire city and Place al Alouvine which is a large, central square and the heart of the medina. It plays host to a mini Djemaa El Fna most evenings. Storytellers and musicians are there.
►Have lunch at a charming cafe in the old city or at the Riad Zitoune restaurant with an interior palmary and gardens or Restaurant La Valla. If time allows stop in a Berber Village just outside of Tarodaunt for tea with a Berber family.
► Return to your Hotel or the Port in Agadir. For more information about a Tarodaunt Tours
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 22, 2012 at 7:20 AM||comments (1)|
The Port of Agadir is filled with various cruise ships that dock offering cruise critics and cruise ship travelers the opportunity to take in the sites and sounds of Agaidr on an Agadir One-day Tour. Two cruise ships that frequent the Agadir Port often are the Oceania Marina and the Oceania Riviera. These Mediterranean cruises stop in Monte Carlo, Naples, Casablanca along with other a select group of other Ports in the region. Most of the Mediterranean cruises offer Agadir One-day Tours and excursions for large groups. As a cruise ship traveler if you prefer not to participate in a large group then considering a private Agadir One-day Tour or Excursion with Morocco Travel Experts is a good choice. An Agadir One-day Tour offers the opportunity to discover the sites and sound of this Berber city with a private driver from Agadir and an English, Multilingual Speaking Licensed Guide from Agadir.
Agadir, often referred to as the Cote D’Zur or Cannes of Morocco is one of the best resorts to enjoy Moroccan and international gastronomy. Agadir offers many activities such as, golf, sailing, tennis, horse and camel riding. Being the number one tourist resort in Morocco, Agadir offers a fantastic night life with the latest laser light show, night clubs, discos and casinos. Another claim of this clean and modern city is the Timitar Music festival which takes place each July.
Agadir One-day Tour Itinerary
► Pick up at your Hotel or the Port in Agadir.
►Visit the Valley of the Birds. The Valley of the Birds has pleasant, lush vegetation that draws in birds throughout the year. There is also a waterfall, zoo and aviary.
►Next, visit the oldKasbah on a hill 7km to the northwest of the town, commands good views over the port. It was built in 1540 by the Saadian Sultan Mohammed ech-Cheikh, and restored and regarrisoned in 1752 by the Alawite Sultan Moulay Abdallah, who was responsible for the demise of Agadir as a trade depot. Abandoned to the inhabitants of Agadir, the garrison provided housing for nearly 300 people, and traces of these dwellings can still be made out. The grassy area below the kasbah, Ancienne Talborjt, covers the remains of Agadir's medina and constitutes a mass grave for all those who died in the 1960 earthquake.
►The small Musée du Patrimoine Amazigh has an excellent display of Berber artefacts, especially strong on jewellery. Inspired by Bert Flint, the Dutch owner of the Maison Tiskiwin in Marrakesh, this is a great place to learn about the traditional life and culture of the Berber people of the region. A free guided tour can be arranged on request (a tip is welcome).
►Enjoy lunch at the Port or in one of Agadir’s beachside cafes with views of the sea. Other options are La Scalla, an upscale top notch seafood restaurant or Mauresque, charming atmosphere and traditional Moroccan cuisine with an International flair.
► Head four kilometres south, on the Inezgane road, Coco Polizzi, a Rabat-born Italian architect, has created the La Médina d’Agadir, an idealised Berber village, built using traditional techniques and materials, with workshops for 30 independent artisans.
► If arrival on Thursdays, end your day with a visit of the Immozer. Return to your Cruise ship or Hotel.