Guide to Tiznit, Morocco

A short journey south of Agadir, Tiznit stands in an arid corner of the Souss valley, sandwiched between the Atlantic coast and the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Despite its solid circuit of pink walls, the town is a relatively new creation as a trade centre in the south.

In fact, Tiznit was built as late as 1882, when Moulay Hassan I erected thick walls around 12 existing Kasbahs in his bid to subjugate the rebellious Berber tribes of the south. Later on, Jewish silversmiths were moved to the town, establishing its reputation as a centre for metalwork and silver jewellery. However, the town remained at the centre of local sedition, becoming the base of El Hiba, who rebelled against the 1912 treaty of Fez that established the French and Spanish protectorate over Morocco. The so-called “Blue Sultan” built a considerable force of Berber tribesmen and marched into Marrakech and then Fez in 1913, where he was eventually defeated. El Hiba continued his resistance against the French first in Taroudant and then in Tafraoute, where he died in 1919.

Today, the town bears much of this rebellious military legacy – red pisé walls, neat administrative streets and an important army garrison. It has also retained its reputation for metalwork and silver, as can be seen in the jewellers’ souks. Tiznit can also be used as a good staging base to explore the desert to the south and the national park and wildlife sanctuary to the north.