Tinghir and Todra valley.

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Architecture in Todra valley

The traditional architecture of the Todra valley was all of unbaked clay and based on the principle of fortification. The main architectural features were the Kasbah and the Ksar, but there were also shrines and isolated watchtowers. Building systems were the pisé and the adobe. Today, new buildings are built with concrete and follow standards aesthetic hybrids.

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Ksar Bou Taghat.
Ksar Bou Taghat

The Ksar

The most common traditional architectural model in the Todra Valley is the Ksar, called Ighrem in Berber language. It’s a village surrounded by a wall with watchtowers, one or more monumental entrances and some common facilities inside, between which is always a mosque.

Kasbah Ali Dani, Aït Zilal.
Kasbah of Ali Dani in Aït Zilal

The Kasbah

The other classic model is the Kasbah, name that began to be used under the French protectorate to translate the Berber word Tighremt, diminutive of Ighrem. Indeed, it is a much smaller fortification: a single building to house a powerful family. Its plan is usually square with four corner towers and sometimes an internal court.

Sidi l’Haj in Haloul, Todra.
Shrine in Haloul

The shrine

Outside the Ksar, usually in the cemetery, there is always one or many shrines covering the graves of Sufi masters or other people considered holy by the community. These mausoleums are supposed to protect the village and receive pious visits, especially by women. Its shape can be very diverse, but they are all characterized by its central dome.

Watchtower in Tadafalt, Todra.
Watchtower in Tadafalt

The watchtower

On the high points close to the valley, many watchtowers allowed once notify the presence of enemies at long range. Today they are almost all disappeared and the only seen, near Tadafalt, is in ruins.

Construction of a wall with pisé.
Construction of pisé

The pisé

The usual construction system of all described architectural models is the pisé or rammed soil, which consists in piling the damp earth -without straw- in a wooden formwork and to ram it down to give it consistency. Once completed a bit of wall, formwork is removed immediately and sticks that supported it leave the pisé buildings characteristic holes, but they can also be clogged with soil.

Manufacturing of adobes.
Manufacturing of adobes

The adobes

The other traditional construction system is the mud and straw bricks dried by the sun, called adobes. With these bricks, bound together by the same mud and straw mixture, are constructed the thin walls in the second or third floor, pillars, arches and decoration.

Ksar Taghzoute, Todra valley.
Ksar Taghzoute


The arrangement of the adobes allows creating many geometric figures on the highest points of the walls and towers, as well as entries of Ksour and Kasbahs. Walls are crowned with triangular battlements and windows, very small, are surrounded by a frame of lime or plaster.

Ceiling in Taghia n’Illamchane, Todra.
Ceiling in Taghia n’Illamchane

The ceilings

The ceilings of Todra valley are made with reeds on wooden beams of palm tree, poplar or tamarisk. These reeds are sometimes substituted by oleander stems that can perform geometric designs. On the reeds once was palm leaf mat or old tissue, but today people prefer plastic. The whole set is covered with a soil layer of almost 20 centimeters.

Coating of a wall with mud and straw.
Coating of a wall with mud and straw

The coating

The walls and roofs are coated inside and outside with the same mixture of mud and straw, which can withstand twenty years in the first case but should be renewed almost every year on the terraces. In the early 20th century people began to use also plaster, but only in guest rooms of the houses and in the praying room of the mosques.

Modern building in Tineghir, Todra.
Modern building in Tineghir

Modern buildings

Today most of this traditional architecture has been replaced by a new style, made of concrete and based on hybrid influences. It takes from Europe its outside form, from Moroccan cities its domestic distribution of space and keeps the local tradition in the decorative shaped triangular niche over its large windows.

Kasbah and concrete building in Tinghir.
Kasbah drowned by the concrete

Architectural heritage conservation

The result of these changes is the abandonment of ancient Ksour and Kasbahs, which are crumbling from lack of maintenance, and concrete construction inside the Ksour which have not been abandoned. In the whole Todra valley, the only soil buildings that have been restored to this moment are the Kasbah of Sheikh Bassou, the Ikelane Mosque in Afanour and some houses in the Ksar Tinghir.

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La ruta de las mil casbas. Biografí,a de Roger Mimó, What is a Kasbah? To stay in a Kasbah. Comprarse una kasba.
Libros de Roger Mimó,. Circuitos. Montañ,as de Marruecos. Inventaire des kasbahs El viaje de Alí, Bey.

To contact the author: E-mail of Roger Mimó.

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