Telouet Kasbah in The Saharan highway, where countless caravans have passed along, stretches over the Atlas Mountains in North Africa all the way to Marrakesh, Morocco. What’s for sure for this place is that it is absolutely littered with decay.
Everyone, including pilgrims, explorers, traders, and travelers, had to take the Saharan highway in order to reach to the other side of the desert. Oftentimes, the caravans would rest and seek shelter in the only place possible; the small Berber villages that were located in the area of the Saharan Camelway. If you happen to travel in those areas now, you will notice that most of the villages still stand today. However, not many of the so important villages are in the same conditions as they were before.
One of the villages that have lost its spark is Telouet Kasbah. This place is located in the edge of Telouet village, in the southeast region of Marrakesh.
The word kasbah (alternatively casbah or qaṣba) itself refers to a collection of buildings, a single keep or watchtower, or even a whole town. It played the role of a fortress-residence for the sheikh (king) of the village. The main reason why it was built has mainly to do with the idea that it provided a high vantage point to watch for approaching travelers.
This fortress-residence housed one of the most remarkable families in the entire history of Morocco: the El Glaoui family. What’s more, it was even one of the biggest and most stunning kasbahs of the time. Its grand architecture was something that was never seen elsewhere.
According to the legends, around 300 workers were needed to decorate its walls with traditional zellige mosaics. Referred to also as The Palace of Glaoui, this kasbah had everything from top to bottom covered with ceramic tiles.
At first, life at this fortress was quite good and happy for its owners. They were able to collect taxes and maintain order in the area while controlling a large number of traders at the same times. Also, the constant flow of caravans, people and good were reasons that contributed to the family’s wealth.
Interestingly enough, Sultan was a close acquaintance of theirs. For this reason, Thami El Glaouis became eventually The Pasha of Marrakesh,or the Lord of Atlas. As he became a more powerful person, his influence continue to grow too. He became quite known throughout the entire country for hosting many memorable events in his luxurious Kasbah.
During the middle of the 20th century, the Moroccan independent movement grew stronger and stronger. Thami El Glaoui wanted to seize the opportunity and pursue a political career. For this reason, he made a deal with the French colonialists. The two parties decided to overthrow the sultan, Mohammed V and replace him with Ben Arafa, a Moroccan supported by the French government.
From this tract, the El Glaoui family became even more wealthy and powerful. They were certainly one of the richest, if not the richest family in the whole country. Things were going great for Thami El Glaoui too. He was now ranked higher in the list of the most powerful people in Morocco.
However, it’s without doubt that good things always come to an end. The end for this Moroccan family came in 1955 when Mohammed V returned from exile back to Morocco. As soon as he came back, he immediately declared his own independence. The next thing he did was branding the El Glaoui family as traitors, taking all of their possessions and then chasing them out.
Ever since then, Telouet Kasbah has been all alone and slowly falling apart. It may have lost its liveliness over time, but one thing’s for sure: This astonishing historic beauty will never lose its real value -the memories its grand existence has to tell about the family that were once its owners. They say that memories stay forever. Then, it’s for sure that no matter what happens, Telouet Kasbah will certainly live forever through all the stories that it has to tell.