Ourigane Morocco’s Untouched Berber Villages & Jewish Past

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Ourigane National Park

Ourigane is one of the last untouched regions of Morocco. A day-trip to Ourigane from Marrakech should be on your bucket list. Travelers interested in venturing off the beaten path to Ourigane can discover Berber Villages, Jewish Heritage sites, and the Tin Mal Mosque are in for a surprise diversion from the bustling city life.

A Day Trip from Marrakech to the Ourigane Valley

Nestled in the tranquil foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco in the heart of the Ourigane National Park is the charming and quaint Berber village region of Ourigane. Ourigane boasts magnificent views of the High Atlas along with outdoor activities ranging from hiking, walking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. A wide variety of birdlife also awaits birdwatchers in Ourigane. Located on the valley floor of the Oued ‘River’ Nfis, Ourigane is situated 1,000 meters above sea level. Ouirgane has a weekly souq noted for its traditional Berber pottery, the Tin Mal Mosque a ruined kasbah, and several salt mines in the vicinity.

Ourigane and the Jewish Tombs of Anraz

Ourigane is also home to several Jewish Tombs of several revered Rabbi’s. Located in the Berber village of Anraz, Ourigane is the shrine of Chaim Ben Diourne (Diwan), Rabbi Mordekhai, and Rabbi Abraham Ben Hammou. Each May there is a Jewish mousseum (festival) where those of faith come to celebrate the life of these Rabbi’s and pay their respects. Chaim Ben Diwan who came from Jerusalem to Morocco alongside his father. The two men left Jerusalem to raise money for schools (Yeshivot) and distribute the Torah to Moroccan Jews. According to Dafina, Diwan found himself, years later, without his father but with three of his disciples, in these High Atlas Mountains around the 18th century.

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Rabbi Haim Ben Diwan’s Grave, Ourigane

To visit Ourigane’s Jewish Heritage in Morocco, Site of the Historic Rabbi’s Tombs, you will follow the old dirt road that leads to a compound of buildings enclosed by a gate, overshadowed by mountains and built on rocky terrain in the village. Inside the shrine are three different tombs, leaving the precise burial spot of Rabbi Haim Ben Diwan in doubt — being the mysterious circumstances of his death. Two of the graves are identified with markings that appear to indicate it is of Ben Diwan. The other two are believed to be for two of his disciples. Artifacts, some da)ng to at least the 1700s, adorn the room, including candlesticks, menorahs, Torah scroll crowns, the Ten Commandments (in Hebrew) etched on a plate, and a flower vase.

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Domaine de la Roseraie, Ourigane

Domaine de la Roseraie

It is recommended to have Lunch at Domaine de la Roseraie, a historic property well-appointed on in the heart of Ourigane National Park and the Atlas Mountains. The restaurant serves Moroccan and International fare.

Domaine de la Roseraie is set on 60 acres rose garden and parkland setting that features olive trees, fruit trees, aromatic plants, and orchards.

Currently owned through heritage from Abdelkader Fenjiro, Nabil Fenjiro, and Kenza Fenjiro, his children, run Domaine de la Roseraie which is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Morocco. Originally converted by Abdelkader Fenjiro in 1985, from a guest house to sprawling luxury property, the Domaine is where visitors once stayed when traveling by horse and carriage through the region.  Abdelkader Fenjiro became a pioneer in the Moroccan luxury hotel industry.

Fenjiro was a nature enthusiast and decided to share his involvement by designing a unique place where one could rest and regain strength, drawing from local resources and the Berber tradition.

Some aromatic and healing plants found on Domain de La Roseraie are:
Thyme is the greatest ally for intestinal illnesses and indigestion, it cleans and reinforces the body’s immune system. Rosemary is an antispasmodic but it also has various other virtues: an expectorant, it is perfect for bronchitis and as a painkiller, it relieves rheumatism. Sage also has digestive properties and relieves the feeling of being bloated. Peppermint and rose geranium are other antispasmodics. Rose geranium has a perfumed taste that softens the bitterness of thyme and rosemary.

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Tinmal Mosque, Ourigane

Ourigane’s Tin Mal Mosque

After exploring the Jewish Tombs and the heritage site of Ourigane travelers can visit the Tin Mal Mosque. Tin Mal is 100 km from Marrakech just past the village of Ijoukak on the road to Taroudant in the High Atlas Mountains. It was the spiritual home of the Almohads, who went on to conquer Marrakech defeating the ruling Almoravids and then creating an empire that stretched from all of what we know as the Maghreb, southern Portugal, and Spain and part of Africa. It began when Ibn Toumert of the Masmoudi tribe established the mosque at Tin Mal with a fortified town, called a ribat, in 1122. He proclaimed himself the Mahdi and established a strict and puritanical rule over his followers.

All you see today is the imposing mosque that was rebuilt by Ibn Toumert’s successor, Abd el Mumin who went on to take Marrakech in 1148. It has been recently restored. It is one of only two mosques that non-Muslims can enter in Morocco, the other being the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Ourigane is an ideal region to visit during all seasons. The National Park and its Berber villages are a perfect one-day excursion from Marrakech.

For travelers interested in a day trip from Marrakech to discover Jewish Heritage Sites and tombs or for those who would like to stay longer, Ourigane offers a host of beautiful properties with luxury amenities and views of the Atlas Mountains.

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