Ksour of Rissani
Rissani, course of the ksour
Coming from Erfoud, before entering the Rissani Gate, there is a signpost indicating “tourist circuit”. We would rather tend to describe this itinerary as historical because of the ancient ksour that punctuate this route, on a tarmac road of about twenty kilometers, in the heart of a part of the palm grove.
This route leads us immediately to the right, in front of sections of adobe walls, vestiges of the city of Sijilmassa. The first ksar we come across is the Ouighlan ksar, located at the exit of the village.
Presentation of some Ksour
This well-preserved ksar was home to a large Jewish population until the middle of the 20th century in the mellah district. What used to be the synagogue during this period is now used as a hay and grain depot.
A little further on, do not hesitate to leave the course by following the road on the left which leads to the ksar Tinghras at 4 km.
Beautiful! The Tinghras ksar built on a rocky peak, it offers an overview of the palm grove, the Anti-Atlas in the distance, the hamada du Guir in the east and the ridges of the erg Chebbi, visible in clear weather to the southeast.
It is a journey in the journey; time may have stopped there. The ksar of Tinghras, despite some concrete constructions at its feet, has remained as it was originally, a maze of covered and dark alleys winding up to its summit.
A tranquillity that only a few children gently disturb without, for all that, ruining this particular atmosphere.
The pleasure and discovery of this superb ksar are in the measure of the place. You will have understood, we love to come there for its authentic character and for this isolated and off-centre side of the course…
We come back on the itinerary of the “tourist” circuit in order to reach the ksar Tabassamt. Quite open in places, open-air paths invite us to enter the heart of the ksar through the small covered lanes overlooking the houses. Along the way, we discover the Irara ksar.
Outside, a small marabout watches over the old village, with alleys overlooking the vast outer courtyards. Further on, the adobe village of Zaouia Sidi Ali is home to a small peaceful and unpretentious ksar. It is unfortunate, however, that below, on the side of the palm grove, a wild waste dump has taken up residence…
Continuing on, we reach the ksar Amar, the access, through the door on the side of the ksar, overlooks a median where another marabout sits. We enter the heart of the ksar through the covered alley in front of us. Some entrance doors topped by green tiles and a half collapsed end of the derb add a special touch to this charming ksar.
To finish the course
With its clay minaret, the Ouled Abd Haraman ksar, in good condition, is a pleasant stop on the circuit.
The ksour el kasba and Jdid are almost joined. Ksar Jdid, which means new, has a good name. The door of the ksar’s enclosure opens onto a courtyard where the “association of optimism” is established. We then enter the ksar, whose paths are very smooth compared to what we discovered before and the walls of the houses very well maintained.
The circuit passes in front of the Ksar Asarghin before reaching the ksar Ouled Abd el Halim. This ksar was one of the most beautiful of Tafilalt at the time of its splendor. The ramparts surmounted by tall towers decorated with hollow and relief motifs obtained by the use of mud bricks are being restored.
The ksar Ouled Abd el Halim houses the palace where, from 1847 onwards, Moulay Er-Rachid, brother and Caliph of Sultan Hassan I, lived and governed. The garden, surrounded by living rooms with painted cedar wood ceilings are period. The caretaker will be happy to tell you the history of the palace, a small fee will be welcome.
Unfortunately, the whole ksar is still in an advanced state of disrepair. Finally, the ksar Ibn Minoune Achorafaa closes this circuit before reaching the Mausoleum Ali Cherif.
Other ksour and monuments of Rissani
Mausoleum Ali Cherif of Rissani
The funerary chamber of Moulay Er-Rachid’s father, founder of the Alawite dynasty, whose current ruler of Morocco is the direct descendant, was built in 1666.
A particularly violent Ziz flood destroyed a large part of the mausoleum and zawiya in 1965, which were quickly rebuilt.
Once forbidden to non-Muslims, the inner courtyard of the mausoleum is now open to all. It is a garden divided into 4 equal parts representing the 4 seasons, separated from marble corridors of Italy.
The passageways enter the sacred enclosure, where only Muslims have access. It houses the funerary chamber decorated with mosaics, enamelled earthenware and the large mosque.
We can still have a look at it if the doors are open. See the ksar Moulay Ismaïl on the right-hand side of the mausoleum.
Behind the mausoleum, the Akbar ksar is a fortress built at the beginning of the 19th century which served as a place of exile for the members of the Alawite royal family who fell in disgrace and the women of the deceased sultans. The ksar protected part of the royal treasury, under the guard of black soldiers.
Today, only the surrounding walls, the monumental arched entrance door decorated with geometric motifs and flanked by 2 guard towers, are still standing.
After having passed through this imposing gate, one enters a large courtyard where between ruins and vestiges of a past time, some families live in more recent constructions.
Built in the seventeenth century, this ksar in the centre of Rissani is well preserved. Nearly 300 families still live within its walls. The visit is quite interesting and representative of the local architecture for all those who do not have time to visit the surrounding ksour.
The ksar Abouam was used as a backdrop for the shooting of several film productions, notably the Little Prince and Marco Polo.
Ksar El Fida
The ksar el Fida is a large Alawite kasbah of the XIXth century totally restored. In 2005 the kasbah was converted into a museum inaugurated by Prince Moulay Rachid. It is accessed through one of the gates of the enclosure wall that leads to a large courtyard.
In front of us stands the kasbah, majestic. The museum shows by the presence of clothes, everyday objects, carpets and handicrafts what everyday life was like at that time in the Rissani region.
The museum is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Entrance 10 Dh.
Come to the ksar Fida:
Leave Rissani by taking the road to Merzouga. After 2 km, turn left following the sign for ksar el Fida and continue for about 2 km. A little further on is the Ksar Mezguita, which means mosque in Berber.