Morocco’s Zagora: a world heritage stronghold and the heart of Saharan tourism Zagora – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: Like all cities, Zagora, which is located in the south of Morocco, does not give its soul to anyone but the lovers, as for the passers-by, they have hotels and their swimming pools, and they have palm trees and dates, and they have camel caravans and desert dunes.
and they have what passes by:
the pleasure of the eye and the sight. Only lovers of deserts and their silence who listen to the call of the earth and people, and those looking for great psychological clarity, and those who hear the silence and vastness of the desert can enjoy a magical city like Zagora, fortunately, they are many. And if the foreigners are from different parts of the world, and some Moroccan tourists find in this charming city all the reasons to visit it, because there is an almost complete absence of Arab tourists who miss an opportunity to see the beauty of a city in which the Berber, Arab and brown races coexist in a charming and beautiful way, it maintains its heritage, culture and pride with all nobility, despite the scarcity of resources and the cruelty of life, which has not been able to remove the joy and contentment from the gently carved brown faces, faces provide services to tourists with all eyes and pride.
where work is a value, worship and way of life, and where the sweetness of the reception that will always captivate your heart. When you visit Zagora in particular, you realize where the kindness that characterizes Moroccans naturally and naturally comes, before the lower cities hijack the heart and mind together and turn man into a mere calculator.
According to researcher Muhammad Ait Yassin, the name originates from Mount Tzakurt, which is a Berber word, “Azakur” means treasure in the Amazigh dialect. The researcher denies any relationship to Zagora with the name of a woman or a foreign city, stressing that no foreign colonialist could reach it, including the Romans and the Portuguese.
Whatever the origins of the name, it suffices for us what it means on the ground:
Infinite kindness surrounded by the people of the place, from Akdz to Mahamid El-Ghazlan, between one visit and another, you will find the city as if it were a woman who is renewed every five years, a small airport, but a strong light point for the city, fulfills its basic purpose and guarantees direct access for tourists to come to Zagora without going through the famous zigzags of the road, Tizen Tichka, a new arch on the Draa Valley to break the isolation of the oases adjacent to Zagora, the roads that you left rugged within the entire region.
you will find on your new visit paved, hotels with quiet local characteristics and modern specifications that provide tourists with a good reception structure, local products displayed along the road, high-rise buildings with a local touch and antique homemade decorations are as old as the ground. Civilization is not imported here.
we are in a stronghold of world heritage par excellence, it is a zakora that is reborn, but if there are many changes, what brings them together in one mold is preserving the identity of the place, preserving the local heritage, which is the real capital of the region and the only guarantor for lifting the isolation from the city and even the entire region, a bet the young stewards of the region seem to be aware of.
captives and a synagogue Women raise their voices, warning against taking pictures of them, disappearing into the alleys as if they were ghosts, i assure them that I will not photograph without their permission, in turn, the companions of Si Muhammad, a Spaniard, “the agent of the mass lands, the Amzru tribe, Fakhdat Daraa”, reassures them with his loud and confident voice, soon they emerge from behind the doors and in the dark alleys to enter with them in a short chat.
They must seriously wear the black of their simple traditional clothes decorated with their hem in beautiful warm colors before leaving the place, they do not have time to talk to the transients, as the place is bustling with tourists all year round. We are in Amzru Palace, one of the most famous and important tourist places in the Zagora region, and the palace is here.
It is often pronounced Kef, meaning “Kasr”:
meaning the population gathering whose buildings are surrounded by walls, despite the collapse of a number of old buildings inside it, many homes are still inhabited in one form or another, although their owners left the place for new modern homes, they kept their belongings in place, as that the stalk (the Kasbah), with its ancient heritage architecture, is a living archaeological treasure.
perhaps many of its residents are unaware that it is part of a world heritage even if it has not been recorded until the time. Our visit to Amzru Palace coincided with carrying out repairs at the level of the “Great Mosque” building in the middle of the Kasbah, the mosque that was closed during a certain period for fear to the inhabitants of the possibility of its fall, the mosque is being renovated without compromising its original architecture.using the contractor for local workers,
and the roof of the mosque preserves the same materials:
palm fronds, which have withstood the weather for thousands of years, and its silo is distinguished by its local architecture that characterizes the cities of southern Morocco. It is the heart of the place, here men meet, prayers are performed and there is water where it is transported towards homes.
It can also be heated on the spot in a special room for ablution and bathing. It is also available on a roof that gives a panoramic view of the entire Kasbah, According to our escort Si Muhammad.
the mosque includes two angles:
the corner of our master Sheikh and the corner of Moulay Abdullah al-Sharif, where devotees gather to perform their religious rituals, in addition to a book of the Qur’an called “the preparedness”. The interior architecture of the palace creates wide alleys called Asarak, which is simply a long corridor, on which simple stone chairs or a rectangular bench are built,.
during summer, residents are given the opportunity to go out and play, and because the group is the guiding spirit of this gathering, “your captors” become of utmost importance in daily life, in contrast to the public arena among Westerners, “Asrak” plays an important role in gatherings, whether it is related to joy or sadness. Perhaps the tightness and heat of the houses in the summer, made your captors part of the manifestations of life inside the palace. Our companion,
Si Mohamed Espany, says:
“Until the end of the eighties, weddings were held here jointly, and within the framework of the palace restoration project, they asked us to focus on places where this type of space exists, that is, to create a model for coexistence among the population within the framework of the restoration so that it can Residents to promote their products to attract tourists ». Inside the palace is a place still called the Kasbah of the Jews, includes their residences that they left at the end of the sixties permanently, they left behind their shops and homes, which they sold to their Arab, Berber and Daraa neighbors.
And the visitor cannot distinguish them from others, as the traditional houses built with mud and hay are similar to an elaborate local building, only the closed synagogue, located in an alleyway, cannot be distinguished by any sign, it is opened to tourists, it is enough to ask the residents of the next door for the key to make a view of the place.
Era past and era begins And a bet on the heritage economy Interest in tourism in the Moroccan southeast began in the late eighties, in turn, Zagora would benefit from this interest, which reached its peak during the years 2000 and 2001, how did the story begin?
Ahmed Shahid says, president of the Regional Council for Tourism:
“Intellectuals and filmmakers were prior to the matter, especially in Rashidiya and Ouarzazate, but then came the Gulf War crisis and the events of May 16, and what happened in Europe recently, especially France, all this affected tourism in the region.
Then we should have thought of sustainable and integrated tourism projects that do not affect the fragile ecological system of the region, such as “rallies”. We are looking for integrated tourism activities. What we are proposing today as a strategy is the full awareness that heritage is the basic building block of tourism, we are at a crossroads and we have to give another life to our tourism product.
We have a road structure that has made us open to other destinations such as Merzouga, Fez, Agadir and Tata, roads expand in the area, we have an airport, despite its limitations, as it only needs marketing, and we have capabilities and geographical, natural and heritage diversity, but we need the product,
that is why we called our project in this context:
«Zagora is a sustainable tourist destination through the activation of the natural heritage and the cultural sphere in its tangible and intangible form» but to make it realistic, we need a product, which we propose to present through the “heritage interpretation centers” they are small museums consisting of platforms that include ten small museums, and the appropriate place for each museum is chosen in order to achieve a diversity in the level of tourist intake so that the tourism field in the region is not restricted to four stations, which are Agdz-Zagora, tamkrot Mahamid, but the question today is who will do what to achieve this?
It is inconceivable that local groups do not have centimes in their budget that concern their heritage, today we have to search for the heritage economy because it is one of the forces striking these areas and can bring them out of marginalization».
The stronghold of the Nasiriya corner The heart of mysticism in the desert At a distance of 18 km to the east of the city of Zagora, the tourist interested in the spiritual and cultural heritage of the place will find his way in the region of Tamkrot, the paved road leads you to the precious treasury of the Nasiriyah Library of the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, which you entered accompanied by one of the granddaughters of the founder of the Zawiya, Enas Al-Nasiri, that accompanied us on our wanderlust in this quiet place.
The corner treasury that has applied its fame to the horizons includes a collection of the rarest historical documents, jurisprudence, medical and scientific books in its locker, books written, purchased, and carried by the founders and those who came after them from all over the world. Si Khalifa Belhassan explains to us the Treasury’s values, with the lightness of a loving spirit and a fiery memory,
the history of the library seated in his wheelchair :
“This is the treasury of Sidi Mohamed Banasir, who is buried in the tomb. He used to go to the east and contact scholars during the Hajj season and buy books from them. He had more than 1,400 students who read the Qur’an and eat and drink in Zawiya, and most of them were Berbers. In this library there are approximately four thousand books in addition to the documents in the National Library in Rabat.
then his son, Sidi Ahmed Banasir, came after him, he used to buy and own while scholars wrote and most of them were Persians, and every captain of the corner was keen to buy more books, but Sir Mohamed was the founder and Sidi Ahmed bin Nasser was the most famous, he made four trips to the Arab East, and Sidi Muhammad made two trips, each one lasted six months on the back of a camel, passing through the deserts of Algeria, Tunisia,
Egypt and Saudi Arabia”:
The values preserve the location of books, their summaries and their history with extreme accuracy, books cannot be touched or photographed without special permission to protect them from disappearing, damage and theft.
Zawia Nasiriyah provides visitors with an opportunity to see the heritage of the Zawiya that intersects with the history of the Kingdom of Morocco. One of the descendants of the Nasserists, Hatem, with one of his uncles, when you hosted us inside the House of Trustees on the Zawiya, about the history of the Nasserite Zawiya, its founding, its flags and its religious method that allows everyone, men and women, Al-Nahl is one of its foundations with ease, just as we told us about religious wirds, those of men and women.
given their preoccupations and responsibilities at home, and on the visitors who come from all over the world seeking spiritual purity and blessing based on peaceful religiosity and reconciliation with the soul, Emphasizing that the angle is still on the same old way, the way free from complications based on ease away from difficulty, providing food to those passing by and shelter for those who take refuge in it, it has open houses for women and men who have requested the hospitality of the zawiya.
as transients or as patients, and I honored them. and the mausoleum on the corner courtyard, which in turn underwent many repairs and restorations, preserved the geometry of the place, the shrine official explains the history of the founders, whose remains and the remains of their children are inside the shrine, which visitors enter submissively before the dread of death and eager to know the story of the Nasiriyah corner and its founders.
Where birds eat from your hands We come back tired from our trip, where we live in the “Sirocco” kasbah, which means the dry east wind, and on the table the sun is getting ready to go, the birds descend close to you from the tall palm tree, the first bird descends, the second follows, then the third, and the rest comes, they approach you a little, you scatter some bits of news, and the birds approach you more and more.
these birds are accustomed to safety, as transient humans, we are accustomed to fear of everything, therefore, the children are amazed and happy in the face of this unusual confidence of the league birds, do birds eat from human hands? Yes, it certainly does in Zagora.