Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Morocco: Visiting Kasbah Taorirt in Ouarzazate

After our traditional Moroccan lunch, the group headed to Kasbah Taorirt. It is the former residence of Pacha Glaoui, the ruler of Marrakesh and the south of Morocco.

Many thanks and special mention to UNESCO for funding the renovation of this Kasbah and for paving the streets in the medina. Entrance to the Kasbah is 20 DH per person and this is exclusive of the tour guide. So the group arranged a tour guide for the Kasbah who will act as our guide, as well as later for the medina walking tour.

I forgot the name of our friendly and very professional guide. He was a bit older and had a lot of knowledge about the town and the kasbah. He was quite good.

With a smirk on his face, he narrated the history of Kasbah Taorirt including the love affairs of the Pacha who had four official wives and several concubines. I guess this is pretty normal here in Morocco, in the Muslim culture, even up to this day, that if you have the power and money, especially the latter, then you indeed have the freedom to have, rather collect, as many wives or mistresses.

Anyway, he continued on that the Pacha announced to his wives that the wife who bears him the first son will become the favourite wife, or in other words, the ‘head wife’. The head wife will be entitled to better benefits in the marriage. She will have her own big, extravagant and ostentatious bedroom, a long entourage of maidservants at her beck and call, and she obviously has the Pacha’s favour.

Now, this is the interesting part: The head wife will also have a special viewing room for festivities happening in the inner courtyard. Women back then are not directly shown to the public so the wives and concubines are literally stowed away like protected objects in rooms.

For example, during festivities, the Pacha together with his officials sits in the open balcony while the wives were kept away in their viewing rooms. These viewing rooms have windows mounted with iron grills. The head wife, in this case, will have her own large private viewing room whilst the 3 other wives share a smaller one. Privileges.

Honestly, I will not last a day being a wife of the Pacha, even if I become the head wife. I am too headstrong and independent and cannot stomach being the subservient half. Goodness, no, thank you!

View from the balcony of the Pacha down to the inner courtyard.

Painting exhibit in the Kasbah.

Left picture is the lovely wooden ceiling, more information below. Right picture is our tour guide (he was quite good) standing on the open vestibule, it is like a chimney or garbage chute that is used to bring food from the kitchen basement up to the rooms by using the simple lever and pulley technology system.

The ceilings in floral and geometrical patterns are lovely even in their bad state. The paint used are henna and other natural ingredients. UNESCO I believe channelled a lot of money into the Kasbah’s renovation but perhaps more money is needed to fully preserve and renovate them to their former glory.

I believe this is the viewing window of the 3 wives. The right picture is one of the restored rooms.

Of course being in Morocco, the Kasbah is not complete without a hammam.

The hammam was quite primitive though and I can only surmise that women were so tiny back then. The entrance doorway to the hammam was so small it can be mistaken as a children’s playhouse. Inside the hammam you can find another hole, albeit tiny. If you slither yourself into it (I cannot imagine I would do that) you can enjoy a much warmer treatment.

OK, I would rather stick to the hammam at Club Med Marrakech!

View from the Kasbah to the medina.

Next: Walking Ouarzazate’s medina.

Travel Period: April 2009
Destination: Ouarzazate (Drâa-Tafilalet), Morocco

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All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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