0359. The Princess and the Castle (Mor 191--new)

Talaat n' Yakoub Travel Blog

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I soon reach the little roadstop town of Talat’n Yacoub just as market day is winding down. There’s a bus stopped that’s heading for Taroudant—but I figure I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to parkbench another Atlas town.

 I walk up through the muddy market alley and through an odd structure—a street that goes right under a mosque minaret… There I find a rather muddy plaza with a long low wall where I can sit and pull out my guitar.  A couple of locals come to listen—including a couple of local musicians.  They invite me to get together and jam that evening—if I decide to stick around. 

But I’d really like to make it to Taraoudant tonight.  But it looks like the last bus has already left.

  I’m going to have to stay in Talat n Yacoub, like it or not…

As a gaze down on the orchard valley trying to figure out what to do, what looks like a castle right along the river catches my eye… I figure I could probably make it down there before it gets dark... I find a path down the steep hill and through the almond an olive groves. 

There a couple of older ladies and a teenage girl in front of a mud brick house look at me curiously.  As I walk past, they tell me that that path is a dead end.  I ask if there’s a path along the stream. They say yes, but with the stream swollen by the rain, it’ll be very difficult for me.  I tell them that I’ll give it a shot—and if I can’t get through I’ll come back the way I came…

They then insist that the teenage girl show me the way—something that struck me as very strange… In most Moroccan villages, young girls try to stay out of sight when a man passes through… Maybe customs are a bit different in this region.

So the girl—and a couple of kids who came along as chaperones showed me the slippery path along the stream.  Finally we reached the castle. When she saw me whip out my camera she asked for me to take their picture… Then they headed on back, and I entered to explore the castle…

A rare, curious and rather interesting encounter…

And then there was the castle.  It’s a REAL castle—not just four crumbling walls surrounding a courtyard, but a fascinating mix of alleys, hidden alcoves, hidden passageways underneath it… you can even climb up the remains of a stairway to the upper chambers… And it’s completely untouched and undiscovered by outsiders. 

There are ornately decorated windows—that were later filled in with brick—leading me to conclude that this was once a palace in happier times and later barricaded in more violent times…

What I can’t figure out is why it’s built right along a flood prone stream—it just seems like a very odd place to build a castle—though I must admit the rushing stream really adds to its charm…

I later find out that it’s an 800 year old Berber citadel—built back in the days when there were wars and conflicts between the tribes along this rugged valley…

I feel pretty psyched up about my discovery—this was definitely worth missing the bus to Taraoudant for


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Talaat n' Yakoub
photo by: nathanphil