Telouet

Telouet and the Ounila Valley

Telouet, fiefdom of the Glaoua tribe on the heights of the Ounila valley, takes its name from the word Telaoua: classical Arabic reading.

The valley of Ounila, in some places very steep, offers spectacular landscapes dotted with ochre villages, terraced orchards, troglodytic ksour and abandoned kasbahs.

For centuries Telouet was the obligatory place of passage for caravans linking Marrakesh to Ouarzazate and the sub-Saharan regions. Successive Glaoua lords made considerable profits by imposing a right of way on the goods. In the 1920s, the Foreign Legion put an end to this monopoly by building the Tizi’n’Tichka road, thus diverting the commercial caravans from Telouet.

In the 17th century, the powerful Glaoui family came to settle on these lands where Berbers and Jews lived together. The former lived from agriculture and livestock while the latter exploited the rich resources in salt and produced a water of life, containing dates or figs, called merriah, always practiced in small artisanal distilleries… and clandestine. The village of Telouet has 6 mellahs, the name given to the Jewish quarters of a Maghreb city.

The Glaoui family created its own Zaouïa, place of spiritual retreat and religious buildings with social vocation where popular rites, moussems and celebrations of the Saints were perpetuated, then began to make build the kasbah, then modest, which knew 2 consequent enlargements with the 19 and 20th century.

Kasbah of Telouet

At the same time fortress, castle and caravanserai, the kasbah of Télouet dominates the wadi Imaren and the surrounding hamlets. El Hadj Thami Glaoui, then Pasha of Marrakesh, added a luxurious palace during the first half of the 20th century.

Some 300 of the most famous craftsmen were recruited, willingly or by force, to decorate the salons with stucco, zelliges and cedar ceilings. Like a fortified village, the kasbah has a central square where folk dances were once played and which gave access to the court, the kasbah also playing the role of institution of the state.

The Glaoui family sided with the French during the protectorate and exodus of King Mohamed V to Madagascar. The end of the protectorate in 1956 put an end to this exodus and to the omnipotence of the Glaoua. They were banished from the kingdom and came to take refuge in France.

From then on, all their possessions were plundered and abandoned, leaving the erosion of time to erase little by little the memory of the ruthless lords who were the Glaoua. Only a few sections of dilapidated walls, glazed roofs and cracked watchtowers remain. Despite this, some rooms, which can be visited, have preserved their decoration in the Hispano-Moorish style.

The lower part of the walls of the reception hall, with its Italian marble floor, is covered with zelliges and the upper part with refined stucco. We notice the work of Jewish craftsmen who left their mark with some stars of David in zellige.

The windows with finely worked gates of the tea room open on the countryside and offer an extensive view on one of the mellah of the village and the plains of Ounila. The cedar ceiling forms a dome with the symbol of the star of Solomon.

To the right of the reception hall stood the harem with silk-lined walls from Persia. Each silk square represents one of the 80 concubines of the Pasha. Besides his 80 concubines, he also had 5 wives: 2 Turks, 2 Berbers and 1 Arab.

Given the condition of some other parts of the kasbah, they are closed to the public. A small cafe opened at the entrance of the kasbah.

Information

Entry 20 Dh – count 50 Dh for a guide if you wish. Bad point: the large number of rubbish of all kinds that accumulates around the kasbah…

Come to Telouet

From Marrakesh

Take the fork on the right indicating “Télouet 20 km”, a few kilometers after the Tizi Tichka pass. From Bab Ghmat to Marrakesh, a daily bus serves Télouet (55 Dh).

From Ouarzazate

From Ouarzazate take the direction “Aït ben Haddou” and continue along the splendid valley of Ounila. A bus leaves daily around noon and leaves for Ouarzazate around 7 pm. In both directions, the road is now passable by passenger car.

Kasbah of Telouet


Telouet, views from the kasbah


Morocco that I love: Telouet

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