Nestled in the Ouarzazate Province of Draa-Tafilalet, Skoura is a verdant and fertile oasis lined with tall palm groves. It was a preferred shelter for the caravans laden with gold and spices, travelling across the Sahara Desert and heading to Fez.
Through the history, Ouarzazate has replaced Skoura to become the next commercial and trading center. But the historical mudbrick castles of the oasis have remained. Desert traders swarm into the Monday and Thursday souks. Even when the markets are shut closed until next week, no one seems to be in a hurry to leave the tranquil palmeraie of Skoura.
The foliage of Rose Valley is a calming retreat from the dusty Sahara Desert. One can spend the day discovering the old cultural center and Kasbah of the town, while the rest of the evening can be spent sauntering the green paths of the relaxing gardens. If you love history and want to see the lesser-traveled parts of Morocco, the dive into the expedition that takes you exploring this hidden tourist gem.
Built in 17th century, this Kasbah is one of Morocco’s many historical and architectural wonders. Its significance can be measured by the fact that it appears on kingdom’s 50 Dirham note. Sited a few hundred meters from the main road, it offers a sneak-peak into the traditional Kasbah life over centuries. Archaic hand-carved door locks, an olive oil press, old bread ovens that are still functioning, and animal stalls are something to marvel at.
There are two separate buildings of the Kasbah, each with one entrance. The building on the right is the original Kasbah with four towers and a skylight, while the one on the left is a riad that was added to the Kasbah later. The riad is built with a garden in the middle, a style that is not native to Skoura and was imported from Marrakesh.
The Vast UNESCO-Protected Palmeraie of 1000 Palms
Verdant, peaceful, and cooler than the hot desert, the palmeraie is a beautiful place to spend a day. Its vastness occupies more than 30 sq. km. There are several mudbrick castles that are nestled in the palm groves and make for a major part of the verdant territory. A walk through the palmeraie is not to missed. You will find a lot of heritage buildings tucked in the deeper corners of the place. Some are left to ruins, while others stand intact. Either way, the historical authenticity can be felt everywhere in the palm groves of Skoura.
Craft and Cultural Center
300 meters left after the Skoura crossroads to Toundout is the cultural center of the town. If you are interested in the local craft of the place or are looking for souvenirs, then this is the place for you to go. Inside the center, the enterprising NGO showcases items crafted by the locals with palm fronds and sustainably without harming the trees. You can also buy sun hats, bread baskets, mats, and glass-lined lanterns here. All the purchases made benefit the center’s palm preservation, and thus helps keep the palm grove as green and healthy as ever.
Dar Ait Sidi el-Mati Kasbah
This Kasbah is the second most beautiful after the Kasbah Amerhidil. Located just behind the Amerhidil, this old building reflects the beauty of native architecture. The decorative motifs of the building have left many spectators in awe. Even after centuries of neglect, the Dar Ait Sidi el-Mati remains intact and the because it is the lesser-visited Kasbah, you are bound to find it more authentic as well.
Places around Skoura
There are several tourist places at a close distance from Skoura. A list of them will help in meting out the best and most interesting itinerary.
- Ben Amar
- Dadés Valley
- Ait Ben Abou Kasbahs
Best time to visit Skoura
While summer in Skoura are hot, arid, and clear; winter are cold, dry, and clear. The best time to visit the place is from late March to May or from September to November. This is the time for variety of summer activities.
Best Restaurants in Skoura
The small city does not offer many luxurious options like Marrakesh and Fez. However, if you want a good taste of traditional Moroccan dishes with a native Skoura twist, you can head to one of these restaurants.
Located in the oasis of Skoura, this is a renovated Kasbah that offers the surprises instead of services. With no defined menu, you are always in for a surprise for what comes to your table. They pick the best places for you to eat. At Dar Ahlam, every day is a different experience.
Restaurant de La Palmeraie Chez Le Patron Barbu
Located on Rue Principale, this roadside restaurant serves delicious local dishes. The place is inexpensive and recommended by many guides around the city. Not opulent or grand, the petit restaurant is clean and inviting. If you are looking to eat at a local place and watch the local life, then this is the place you pick.
Nothing like the Imperial Cities of Morocco of its coastal cities, Skoura is more popular for its history and verdant palmeraie. You can go here to relax and take a pleasant break from the hot and dry climate of the desert. Its bustling streets, small restaurants, isolated hotels, and old kasbahs will make a very different trip for the vacation. Its proximity from Ouarzazate and Dades Valley makes the city a stop-by spot for those in the middle of their itineraries.