Taroudant is a once-forgotten walled city just one hour's drive (75kms) inland from Agadir, located within the Souss Valley and is sometimes referred to as the 'Grandmother of Marrakech'. Taroudant's excellent location between two majestic mountain ranges of the Moroccan south lends itself as an ideal base for exploring the region; particularly the Anti-Atlas Mountains, the oases of Tata and Akka or even the High Atlas via the exhilarating Tizi'n'Test (Test Pass). Enclosed by the well-preserved old city walls Taroudant will satisfy the visitor's desires for cultural and historical experiences without losing too much on the relaxation front.
Just like Marrakech, Taroudant has imposing adobe ramparts, adorned with square towers. A 7km horse-drawn carriage tour around it reveals its five gates, Bab El-Kasba being the main one and the most majestic. Large fruit orchards surround the city; Amagour, a pretty village located 32km south of Taroudant, is covered in argan trees. Argan oil, used in cosmetics and cooking, is ubiquitous in the region as is the precious and sought-after saffron, harvested from flowers whose meadows spread around Talouine.
Taroudant is marked by a very strong Berber cultural identity which can be found in its craftsmanship and its natural resources such as argan oil and saffron. In the souks, as well as a wide range of ceramics, spices and beautiful fruits and vegetables, you will fine magnificent Berber silver jewellery which is the city's speciality. Silver also decorates daggers and is found along with mother-of-pearl on the butts of ceremonial rifles. Taroudant is also known for its "marble", a soft, chalky stone from the neighbouring mountains from which many different objects can be sculpted using a bradawl. Quality rugs are easy to buy; they come from Ouzguita, from the mountains where the wool is particularly soft and silky.
Argan cooperatives have flourished everywhere. Visiting them is always fascinating, especially since the argan tree grows only in the south west of Morocco. In the dry season, you can marvel at the unusual scene of goats climbing the trees to devour their fruits! Oil of a high nutritional and cosmetic quality is obtained from these nuts. The lush green Souss valley is also home to vast plantations of early fruit and vegetables as well as citrus fruit. Having admired the colours of the spices, clothes and flowers on the Berber market, you will be struck by the indigo blue of the women's clothes, reminiscent of those of the desert men who long frequented Taroudant in the time of the caravans. And orange is the dominant colour during the saffron festival, a high point in Berber culture, which takes place in November in Talouine. This rarest of spices is also used in make-up on festival days.
Surrounded by mountains – the Upper Atlas to the north and east and the Anti-Atlas range to the south – Taroudant lies at the centre of a fertile valley. Perched on a rocky outcrop 30km to the south east, the village of Tiout looks over a palm grove which is reminiscent of the one in Marrakech. From the top of this outcrop, there is an exceptional view over the Upper Atlas and the Souss valley. Fernandel filmed Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in this palm grove in 1954.
In our opinion, Taroudant is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco, the people are friendly and there is a lot to see including the fascinating Berber souk. Being a walled city you enter via one of five main gates (although there are a few newer gates to help ease the traffic), the main sights of the city are the market place, the tanneries and the main squares - Assarag and Tameklalt.
Where to stay
The Dar Zitoune is a high quality small hotel located 3 kms outside Taroudant. Its rooms are scattered around a wonderful garden of orange trees and it boasts a large swimming pool.