Haroun, Rissani with its Ksours, Erg Chebbi en

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Haroun outskirts

KSAR HAROUN: the story of ksar Haroun began when a few nomadic Berbers of the desert, who decided to settle in this area, built what is nowadays known as the ancient ksar.
It was the son of Moulay Alì ash-Sharif that was asked the permission for the water channelling but, on that occasion, it was not a success as it did not give the expected results. Only two years later the Berbers were forced to move and decided to build the modern ksar Haroun. They managed to channel water and thus life began in this ksar founded by three families, among which the Ouaabi, the family from which Alì descends.

The ksar, surrounded by walls that were closed in the evening, was accessed by an entrance gate. At the ksar entrance there was a square devoted to celebrations, with the mosque overlooking it; plus, a further area was available to host the meetings of the community members. The ksar consisted of three roads, one per family, and each of them included five houses.
Today's ksar is not very different from the old one, even if it is now enlarged. It is not sorrounded by walls anymore, roads are longer and houses have increased in number. However, the architecture has remained the same, and houses are built as before. The water channeling has allowed the development of the present-day Haroun gardens, with palm trees, vegetable gardens and crops.

   

RISSANI: Rissani, the ancient Sijilmassa, has its heart in its market, taking place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The Rissani market is the hub of commerce throughout the area, being the place where even the local nomads go for supplies.
Very different from the typical souk of the more tourist areas, it offers from fruit to spices, from body products, typical of the area, to any kind of handicraft, and you can find some real bargains here.

Of great interest is the tour in the Rissani palm groves, not only for their beauty, but also for their historical and cultural weight. There are few monuments or museums that can show this cultural heritage, but the museum is everywhere and the houses, the ksour, as well as dresses and traditions are sodden with the history of these places.

The Rissani houses are half Arab and half Berber, with people coexisting with such reality. Unlike Rissani, the ksours arising around it are mainly inhabited by Arabs. Only two of them are Berbers: ksar Haroun and ksar Mezgeda. For example, you may notice the difference between the Arab women clothing (they are dressed in black with their faces covered) and the Berber women's (they wear colored clothes and keep their faces uncovered).

KSOUR: just outside the town is located the mausoleum of Moulay Ali ash-Sharif, founder of the Alawite dynasty that still reigns on Morocco. Nearby are the ruins of Ksar Aber, dating back to the XIX century, while after about one mile you reach Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim, built around 1900 and characterized by enchanting decorations. Before reaching Rissani you will come across the remains of Sijilmassa, the ancient capital of Tafilalt, which already in the VII century played a key role in the trans-Saharan trade routes. These remains, the only ancient available, as the time goes by are turning into the land from which this town took origin: nevertheless, the real Sijilmassa and its legendary greatness lie in the inhabitants who populate it and in what they have been handing down so far, from generation to generation.

ERG CHEBBI: not far from the village of Merzouga, a series of superb sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, with their incredible colors ranging from pink to gold and red, overlook a lake which, during the winter months, attract hundreds of pink flamingos. Reaching a height of 150 metres, these dunes are the hugest in Morocco. 

The sight of the dunes is absolutely fascinating and worth a trip in any season and at any time of day, just to admire the striking effects created by the light.

Le dune di Erg ChebbiLa porta di Haroun