Taza is a beautiful city in the northern part of morocco about 100 km east of Fez as the capital of Taza Province. It is located to the south west of Rif Mountains and is supposed to have been inhabited as long as the Paleolithic Period. The location of the city is very strategic and is made of two separate towns. These towns are built on separate terraces overlooking the mountain valley.
The old town or the medina is at 1919 feet and is fortified, while the new one is at 1460 feet and was built by the French in 1920. It is located in a mountain pass called as the Taza Gap which has been the major point for invaders to move towards the northwestern parts of Africa. It being a strategic point, it has seen many fights between many wanting to spread their rule.
History of Taza
Taza was founded by the Miknasa Berbers in the late 7th Century. They vowed allegiance to the Idrisids in 790. After that they joined with Fatimids of Kairouan. It was conquered by the Almoravids in 1074. Later on in 1132 they were replaced by the Almohads and by Marinids in 1248. Though it proved to be a major barrier for the Turks from Algiers wanting to conquer Morocco, it was later taken over by the French. You can find many barbican monuments and mosques from old times. There is even a madrasah or a school of the 14th century.
What to do in Taza?
Taza is not known much being a smaller neighbor of the bigger cities like Fez. However you can find many mosques in the city of Taza displaying the glorious past. They are witness to the aura of Almohads’ Sultan Adb el-Moumem Al Mouwahidi. The Andalous Mosque and the Grand Mosque which is supposed to be even older than Tin Mal Mosque of the Tizi N Test region that was also founded by the Almohads.
The major marketplace is the Grain Market and the Souks. You will find fine tapestries, jewelry, wickerwork and a large variety of handicrafts of Berber from the mountains. This road leads to a square which is doubles for parade ground. There is where the beautiful Al Andalous Mosque is situated.
The mosque’s minaret is known for it wider top than the base. You can also find the Market mosque after you come through the covered market place or Kssaria from Bab el-Qebbour. From here you can go towards the main entry point of Taza, the Bab Jamaa gate.
Further south as you cross Bab El-Rhi you can find the Wind Gate which is a bastion of the 16th century. Saadi Ahmed el-Mansour enlarged fortified tower or the Borj to about 26 meters wide at the base in the 16th Century. You can find the European military architecture as you explore the gate with iron grate and the casemates with terraced roofs. You can also find a fold art museum housed in the madarsa as old as 1325.
You can get an amazing view of the Rif Mountains as you climb the Almohad fortifications. If you are interested in exploring in the interesting open caves of Gouffre de Friouato in the eastern part o Middle Atlas then you can make Taza your base. This is the perfect base to move to Tazekka National Park to enjoy caves, waterfalls and gorges there.
There are several hotels you that you can find. There are some like the Les Deux Rives where you can get nice salads, tajines, pastille, pizza and soups. The small and medium sized hotels though with a little old fashioned architecture are nice and warm. You will mostly find heating facility for winter times but the warm of the hosts is even better.
The town and market place are not crowded and you can enjoy the ambiance of the small town as you shop. You can get around the friendly town easily and mostly people speak Arabic and some may also know French. Overall if you are looking for some nice, tranquil place to visit then Taza is the place to be.