A Hidden Kingdom and An Old Mosque

Posted on 3rd December, 2021

The Hidden Valley near Tin Mal Mosque

It was my birthday and we had arranged a taxi to go and see a mosque.

The adventure begins the day before, when we get a taxi to town to find the cashpoint for the to pay for the trip. When we get there the ATM is not working, we ask if there is another and people say no, but one man who was quite persistent said he could help us. We end up walking to the post office, in French it is called ‘La Poste’, this man sticks with us and starts trying to sell some cheap bangles to Sylvia. Of course, when we get to La Poste there is a cash machine but it is not working and probably hasn’t for quite some time. Never mind but now this man is really getting quite annoying, we hardly have enough money left for the taxi home and a return trip another day when maybe it is working. Eventually we get rid of him by paying him what we can afford just. On returning to the Airbnb we are able to borrow some money from the owner and so our trip to the mosque can still go ahead.


The mosque is a one hour drive down the road. We are staying in Ouirgane which is near the beginning of the High Atlas Mountains and the road leads on to the Tiz n Test pass which is a famous adventurous drive through the mountains, the adventure is tamed a bit these days because it is tarmac all the way but the views are spectacular.


Today we are driving for one hour to the mosque, the top of the pass is another hours’ drive which shows just how big the range of mountains is and they are also high with many peaks over 3000m and a few over 4000m. We set off then leaving the dried-up reservoir by Ouirgane and going along the side of a narrow river valley that goes deep into the mountains, the road is tarmac and relatively good but it goes around endless bends negotiating the mountains and rivers, there are small Berber villages clinging to the sides of the hills on both sides of the dried up river bed we are following. Their mud walls blending perfectly into the mountains around them.


As we get near to the mosque, we find ourselves in an area which although high altitude has a lot of relatively level land which is well farmed. Up here in the mountains although it is cold there is more rain and many crops can be grown successfully. There is quite a sizeable community up here in the midst of the mountains and in the past, it would have been like a hidden kingdom it being many days to travel through the mountains to Marrakech. This explains the importance of the community in the past, a large support base could be developed here for any alternative leader of the nation. This is what happened and this mosque is associated with the Almohad movement which overthrew the ruling Almoravid rulers of Morocco in the 12th century. It marks the site of the burial of the first Almohad ruler Ibn Tumart and this building dates from 1148ad and is one of the oldest mosques in Morocco.


The building is no longer used as a mosque and has been restored sufficiently for visitors to get a good impression of it’s grandeur. We arrived there as the sun was quite high in the sky and very warm so we were glad to find the young man with the key who was to be our guide. As we arrived another car was leaving but otherwise the place was deserted, the few local villagers took no notice of us and nobody tried to sell us any cheap jewellery.

The guardian did a good job as we stood inside in the shade, he explained in good English about the history and how the mosque functioned and pointed out the important features of the building. Then it is time to get out the camera and I spent an enjoyable half hour trying to capture some of the atmosphere and majesty of this place.

See my Flickr album here https://www.flickr.com/gp/philipthegood/Hn7ZuL


It is time to return back the way we came enjoying the same valley but from a different angle. We stopped for lunch at a café part way home, being surprised there was no refreshments available at the mosque or even nearby, refreshingly undeveloped for such a significant building.

It was a simple but satisfying way to celebrate my birthday

The Classic View Inside the Mosque


Some Detail In The Mosque with Sylvie

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