History of Taroudant
The turbulent history of Taroudant
Taroudant is one of the main and oldest cities in Morocco, with an undeniable architectural, cultural and historical heritage. It is difficult to specify the exact date of the first foundations of the city, the data before the Islamization of the region being rather vague.
With the conquest of Islam in Taroudant in 62 AH (681 A.D.) the governor of Souss established his quarters there; from then on Taroudant became the capital of the region and thus held a role of administrative centre and meeting place between neighbouring tribes. The conquerors dispossessed the Amazighen (Berbers) of their property, which encouraged them to revolt. Thus, Taroudant would no longer depend on the power of the Muslim Khalifes of the East.
Taroudant at the time of the Idrissides
Moulay Idriss II was concerned to widen the borders of the State by trying to dominate the trans-Saharan trade and to concentrate it towards his capital Fez.
He thus led his assaults in the South and finally established his power in 812 AD. From that time Taroudant came under the domination of the Idrissides and lost its role as regional capital. However, it retained its commercial importance due to its strategic position between Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa.
Under Almoravid rule
The Almoravids succeeded in subduing the Tafilalet, then the Souss. Taroudant became an administrative centre that allowed the Almoravids to control the Souss plain. From then on, Taroudant resumed its role as a commercial crossroads between the north and the south.
Under the reign of Youssef Ibn Tachafine and his son Ali, Taroudant was fortified by the construction of ramparts and the development of agricultural land.
The end of the Almoravid dynasty by the Almohads was a time of conflict for Taroudant. The Almohads first entered in 1133, but took it permanently in 1140.
Following Taroudant’s surrender, the Souss tribes submitted to the Almohads. Taroudant experienced political stability, economic growth and resumed its role as the administrative capital of the region.
Taroudant under the Merinids
The Merinids seized Taroudant in 1269. It remained the capital of Souss. It was the residence of the Viceroy Merinid. Taroudant remained until the end of the Merinid dynasty, independent of the central government with its own political system: four notables took turns in power every six months.
The city suffered from the blockade imposed by the Portuguese on the Atlantic coast. This is what led the Souss tribes to swear allegiance to the Saâdians in 1515 who preached holy war against the foreign occupiers.
Apogee and decline of Taroudant
Glorious period of the Saâdians
It is under the Saâdienne dynasty that Taroudant will know its most glorious period. It will be located at the level of cities like Fez and Marrakesh. The Emir Mohamed Sheikh Saâdi proceeded to the fortification of the city, opened by 5 vaulted gates of Moorish architecture, which became the first capital of the Saâdians.
Fortified, it served to gather and unite the Saâdian forces to the Souss tribes in order to fight against the occupation of the Moroccan coast by the Portuguese.
On the economic level, in full expansion, Taroudant became the transit point of the caravan trade, and developed its local craft industry (copper, leather…) and the production of sugar in the region.
The development of culture and science contributed to the emergence of Taroudant; Jamâa El Kébir (the great mosque) was one of the most prestigious universities of the time when the greatest scholars of the sixteenth century dispensed their knowledge. During this period, the emirate of Taroudant experienced stability and intellectual effervescence. In 1670, Moulay Rachid put an end to the Saadian power, and Taroudant passed under the influence of the Alaouite dynasty.
The Alawites in Taroudant
Taroudant was the place of residence of the Khalifa of the Sultan who belonged to the Alawite dynasty from which the present royal family originated.
The city having great economic resources and benefiting from a strategic situation between the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas, Khalifa tried to establish its independence from the central power.
In 1685, Sultan Moulay Ismaïl besieged the city to overthrow his brother and nephew and thus put an end to the khalifat’s desire for independence and to the actual diversion of the wealth of the fertile province of Souss. It took him two years to fight this rebellion.
Sultan Moulay Ismaël appointed one of his sons as wali, which allowed Taroudant to regain a certain stability until 1702 when the son rebelled against his father. Moulay Ismail sent his other son to take Taroudant. After three years of siege and fighting, the felons finally capitulated.
After the period of unrest that followed the death of Moulay Ismael, Moulay Mohamed ben Abdallah, heir to the throne, conquered Souss and made Taroudant a military base. It was then that the city was throughout this period, the residence of the pashas and the caïds who represented the power of the Alaouite dynasty.
But Taroudant, because of the wars and conflicts of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, lost its superb strategic and economic, precipitating the decline of its commercial opulence, especially its sugar industry. Taroudant was reborn through agriculture and its textile, tannery and leather craftsmen.
It must be acknowledged that Taroudant was rather mistreated by the authority of the indigenous affairs officers during the French protectorate and a good part of the youth Roudani joined the party of “Istiqlal”, the party of independence. During the 1950s, the national movement hardened and entered armed resistance.
The little Marrakech
By its history and its geographical situation between the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas at 80 km from Agadir and the Atlantic coast, Taroudant continues to be a privileged destination for the connoisseurs and appreciated by the travellers. The population is pleasant, the souks more peaceful than those of Marrakesh and the paths invite us to beautiful excursions.
Taroudant derives the main part of its economy from its citrus crops, mainly oranges and clementines, argan oil from which the region is rich, olive oil production and handicrafts, particularly leather work, of which Taroudant sandals are the flagship. Taroudant has an industrial zone about 10 km from the town, in the municipality of Aït Yazza. It houses, among others, the dairy products and fruit juice factory “Jaouda”.