The Goundafa Kasbah at Talat N Ykoub

Just out of Ijoukak you pass a right turn that leads up to Talat N Ykoub. It is a quiet, dusty administrative settlement but its two market courtyards, the arch below the mosque and the Café Tin-Mal can look pretty enough when filled for the Wednesday souk. From the souk you can look over the road down on to the Kasbah of Talat n Yakoub.

To the right of the road a small sculpted stone pavilion stands beside a water tank. An audible trickle of water descends to irrigate an orchard that stretches down to the Nfiss and the sprawling ruins of the Goundafa Kasbah. The Kasbah is built of pise and timber on stone foundations, and is at least the third to have stood on this site. The existing structure largely dates from after 1906, but it is already in a precarious state. Most of the stairways and upper storeys have fallen in, but if you are prepared to nose around among the ruins, the remains of the columned prayer-hall, reception room, great dark granaries, and the slim interior court overhung with balconies can still be made out.

Perched right beside the river and overlooked form the opposite bank by the Tisi Nemiri, the hill of stones, the Kasbah is quite clearly unsuited to defence. It never served as a fortress, but as the palace and administrative court for two generations of Goundafa Caids who ruled the Tizi n Test pass and the Nfiss Valley. It held an assorted population of 1200 servants and slaves and a harem of 300 women. A small mellah beside the Kasbah held a Jewish community who provided vital skills such as pastry-making, silversmithing and financial services.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Day excursion to Ijoukak Valley including lunch

Drive to the Atlas Mountains, 100km from Marrakech, to visit a local village and mosque, eat home-cooked meals, and try your hand at clay tajine-making.