Just south of the city of Marrakech in Morocco are the majestic Atlas mountains. Standing at 7,400 feet, it is one of the most spectacular sights in Morocco.
One of the unique characteristics of this area is the “Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs.” It is a trail of kasbahs once used by ancient caravans of tradesmen that served as safe social meeting places where they could socialize and barter crafts and skills. While kasbahs are found throughout Morocco–there is an especially large number of them here that have been turned into homes.
The kasbah is a fortified fortress made of thick mud walls often found in the center of the cities. They were originally built as dwellings for local leaders and signified wealth for these families who were protected by the thick walls. Many of these kasbahs are more than 100 years old. When you go to Morocco today, you will find many kasbahs transformed into restaurants, hotels and B&Bs.
My parents, Don and Robbie Hamper, set out to experience and photograph all of the unique destination points that Morocco has to offer in one trip. During their time in the Atlas mountain region they shared this experience through email:
“We were at a beautifully renovated Kasbah called the Kasbah Ben Damiete and run by the greatest French couple. They made a special birthday cake for me, and sang to me in French and English, with a sparkler and our guide, Ishmeil, playing a bongo drum. Colette cooked all of the delicious meals and had a flower on our plates for every meal. Every meal was 5-courses complete with a great salad, cheese, olives and the main meal cooked in a tajine which is a pottery dish with a lid that looks like a dunce cap.
The meals are completely cooked in the tajine over a fire with the meat placed on the bottom and lots of vegetable piled on top. It takes about an hour an a half for the meal to cook. Dessert is usually fresh fruit.
We have been to several old abandoned kasbahs that were owned many years ago by people with money. It is fun to photograph the many doorways and hallways decorated with intricate tile designs.
Another old kasbah that we visited is inhabited by a local family. They allowed us to look through the areas upstairs and take pictures of the doorways.
You can see remnants of olden days. The large open space below is where livestock was kept. The heat from the animals circulated up to the living areas above. The original kasbahs were both beautiful and functional dwellings. Today, many of the open spaces in kasbahs are filled with gardens or fountains creating a beautiful open-air living space. We loved it!”
Love, Don and Robbie