Ouarzazate: Old Moroccan Citadels, Spectacular Views and Delicious Food
Contemporary Moroccan Design
Ouarzazate (pronounced war-zazat) was created by the french in 1928 as a garrison and regional administrative centre. Before that, all there was around here was the Glaoui Kasbah of Taourirt (Kasbah meaning Citadel or Fort). In itself, Ouarzazate is an interesting town to visit if you really want to have a glimpse at the way Moroccans live; after a day in this village, the fusion between the traditional and modern culture, as well as the roll of women in contemporary society will become clear to you.
Besides the experience of the day to day life, in Ouarzazate you have access to traditionally made arts & crafts and direct contact with artisans. When I was there, a very pleasant man who had a workshop of woven carpets gave us an extended explanation of the process they use to die the wool and the natural colorants with which they attain the different colors. My companions and I bought him a very nice woollen carpet we still use as a bedspread after 5+ years.
Taourirt Kasbah, Old Moroccan ArquitectureClick thumbnail to view full-size
Old Moroccan Citadel of Ouarzazate
The Taourirt Kasbah is one of the largest citadels in the area. It housed numerous members of the Glaoui Dynasty, along with hundreds of their servants and workers. The Glaoui fort consists of courtyards, living quarters and reception rooms build in traditional Moroccan style and it has been carefully restored by the Unesco.
Opposite the entrance to the Kasbah is another building which houses the Ensemble Artisanal. Here you can find stone carvings, pottery and woollen carpets woven by the region’s Ouzguita Berbers, famous throughout history as warriors of the desert. Berbers are elegant looking people with quite distinctive features such as light skin, blue/green eyes and a strong and profound look. They might approach men with an offer to trade the women in your group for quite a few camels, it is just a proposal which you can courteously reject, so don’t feel threatened or scared in any way.
Berber Craftsman and Trader
Mouth Watering Moroccan Gastronomy
Another grate thing about Ouarzazate is the food! Passionate culinary lovers will feel in paradise eating the most traditional rich succulent dishes home-made-grandma-style that will make you never want to leave. Tajines are a must eat and never forget experience.
The famous Moroccan dish called Tajine is a stew of meat and vegetables, sometimes with the addition of fruits and nuts, cooked very slowly over a charcoal fire. Traditionally, they are prepared in the conical shallow earthenware dish of the same name. Typical tajine combinations include: lamb with dates, lamb with raisins or prunes and almonds, chicken with preserved lemons and olives and saffron chicken with chickpeas. All of them usually eaten with dense round loaves of bread.
Best Moroccan Dishes
Don’t miss Bus Station Kefta (lamb) with Eggs and Tomato (Kefta Mqawara), a delicious dish cooked on the spot and eaten straight from the pan or tajine, which is available everywhere throughout Morocco. The lamb meatballs make a perfect combination with the egg and its mouthwatering spices and it is so special that I even searched for the recipe and have it at your disposal in one of my hubs.
Street Food Tajine
For this Unique Tajine Recipe go to:
- Moroccan Kefta with Egg and Tomato Recipe
Recipe for a Moroccan dish made of Moroccan spiced lamb meatballs (kefta). This traditional street food is a basic but tastes delicious!
Ouarzazate's Country Sight
Ouarzazate Surrounding Nature
Last but not least, Ouarzazate is the ideal launching pad for excursions along the Draa and Dades Valleys, Mountainous Regions and Western Sahara Desert.
From Ouarzazate the P31 leads you south-east along the magical Draa Valley along a ribbon of technicoloured palmeraies, kasbahs and Berber villages. One of the longest rivers in Morocco, the Draa, originates in the High Atlas and winds its way through mountains and desert sands. The fertile palmeraies of the Draa are crammed with date palms, olive and almond groves and citrus trees.
Heading roughly east of Ouarzazate, the Dades Valley threads its course between the mountains of the High Atlas to the north and rugged Jebel Sarhro range to the south. The biggest oases and the line of kasbahs that give this route its nickname, Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, begin just before the town of Skoura. Further along the valley lie the beautiful Dades and Todra Gorges.
Western Sahara Desert
Head towards Zagora for an expedition into the desert.
- Sahara Desert, a Highlight in Morocco
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