Dades Valley and Todgha Gorge, MOROCCO
- Keywords: Morocco, Cultural Landscape, Dades, Todgha, valley of roses, oasis, El Kelaa M’gouna, Boumalne, Msnemrir, Skoura, Tinghir, Tineghir, earthen architecture, Ksar, Kasbash, Glaoui palace, berber, Amazighs.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
The “Dades Valley and Togha Gorge Cultural Landscape” is not in any list.
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
The Dades Gorge in the valley of the roses and the Todra Gorge provide some of the most spectacular scenery of the south of Morocco. These are fertile valleys where roses bloom in profusion in the Skoura and El Kelaa des Mgouna oases and where a large part of Morocco’s rose and rose water production occurs. The Dades Gorge runs from Ouarzazate and stretched 100 miles to the east to Tineghir oasis and the Todgha Gorge. It is a scenically beautiful section of the Dades River valley separating the Atlas Mountains from the Anti Atlas. The Gorge is best known for mesmerizing scenery and the Kasbahs set precariously amongst it overlooking the river below. Gravity defying rock stacks in all shades of red look as though they’ll crumble in front of your eyes and are deeply cut by gullies created by the persistent action of the river and weather. Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tineghir. Both the Todgha and neighbouring Dades Rivers have carved out cliff-sided canyons on their final 40 kilometres through the mountains. The last 600 metres of the Todgha gorge are the most spectacular. The tiny glacier stream is something of a misfit, the river which once filled the gorge must have carried a lot more water. The scenery is spectacular. The Dades Valley, including both gorges (Dades and Togha) has a wild landscape, with snow on one side and semi-desert on the other, its savage grandeur and unearthly silence can be equalled only by the Grand Canyon. The Dades River flows through the valley quenching a miraculous, winding path of fruit, walnut, wheat, silver birch and almond trees, set against an extraordinary backdrop of spectacular rock formations. Also, to protect themselves from invaders, the Berbers erected hundreds and hundreds of Kasbahs. For 25 Kms the good, though very winding tarmac road from Boumalne du Dades runs directly through this ancient forest of ochre fortresses. The main oases of Dades Valley (considering Dades and Todgha Gorges) are: -In Dades Gorge: El Kelaa M’gouna is known as the “Valley of the Roses”, and is packed with hedges of stunning wild roses. Throughout May, the women from the surrounding villages pick 700 tons of rose petals, which are then made into a rather heady rosewater at the local distillery. Boumalne is a good place to enjoy the dramatic landscape of the Dades Gorge and its incredible rock formations. Other oases or villages of interest in this region are Msnemrir and Skoura. -In Todgha Gorge: Tinghir is a city in the region of Tinghir, south of the High Atlas and north of the Little Atlas in southeastern Morocco. Its area has expanded to encompass surrounding villages and refers to the entire oasis. The predominant ethnic group is Amazighs, and the city is at the center of one of the most attractive oases in southern Morocco. Lush palm trees cover about 48 km along the Wadi Todgha. The palm oasis, dense and widespread, is irrigated by a network of pipes and irrigation canals. Occasional heavy rains are absorbed in a few days. The city is built around a rock outcrop and dominated by the ruins of the ancient Glaoui palace. When travelling in the Todra region you must stop Tinghir to walk along its flowered gardens, ksours and Kasbahs. In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action and, definitively, the oases of Dades Valley (Dades adn Togha Gorges) show an unique sample of interaction between human being and nature, composing a living continuing landscape illustrated by especific agricultural and irrigation systems in an arid environment. So, basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolves to value this site as a Cultural Landscape (Continuing Landscape) because of its natural and cultural heritage components.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Dades, Todgha (Arabic: مضيق تودغا), Tinghir, Tineghir (Arabic: تنغير).
- Current denomination Dades, Todgha (Arabic: مضيق تودغا), Tinghir, Tineghir (Arabic: تنغير).
- Original denomination Dades, Todgha (Arabic: مضيق تودغا), Tinghir, Tineghir (Arabic: تنغير).
- Popular denomination Dades, Todgha (Arabic: مضيق تودغا), Tinghir, Tineghir (Arabic: تنغير).
- Address: Ouarzazate, Region Souss-Massa-Drâa, Sud, Morocco.
- Geographical coordinates: Dades: 31°35′0″ N, 5°54′0″ W. Todgha: 31°33′ N, 5°33′ W. Tineghir: 31°30′53″ N, 5°31′58″ W.
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: Dades valley lies between the Atlas Mountains and Anti-Atlas mountain range, in Morocco. The Dades Gorge runs from Ouarzazate and stretched 100 miles to the east to Tineghir oasis and the Todgha Gorge. It is a scenically beautiful section of the Dades River valley separating the Atlas Mountains from the Anti Atlas. Todgha Gorge is a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, near the town of Tineghir. Tineghir is an oasis about 30 kilometres long and about 4 kilometres wide.
- Access and transport facilities: Nowadays, both gorges are easily accessible, but it is best if you have your own transportation. You can always hitch a ride up to each of the gorges, but you might have to outwait local Berbers who will pack into trucks heading to the top. Once there, the temperatures will be cooler, the views amazing, and the people delightful.
- Visits / Schedules / Entrance fees / Groups / guided tours: The Glaoui’s Kasbah (Tineghir), perched on a rocky outcrop, is not open for visit.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Moroccan Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Moroccan Government.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: Social and cultural activities are increasing in the area, education projects for young children are increasing in many villages, as well as literacy projects aimed at adults (particularly women). These projects are supported by local and nongovernmental organisations.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Rural
- Geography: Valley
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: The climate is arid subtropical: hot, dry winters in relation to altitude (1,430 metres. There are a few rainy days per year, with the greatest precipitation in fall and winter.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: The basement rock of most of Africa was formed in the Precambrian (approximately 4.54 - 0.57 billion years ago) and is much older than the Atlas mountains lying in Africa. The Atlas formed during three subsequent phases of Earth's history. The first tectonic deformation phase involves only the Anti-Atlas, which was formed in the Paleozoic Era (~300 million years ago) as the result of continental collisions. North America, Europe and Africa were connected millions of years ago. The Anti-Atlas mountains are believed to have originally been formed as part of Alleghenian orogeny. These mountains were formed when Africa and America collided, and were once a chain rivaling today's Himalayas. Today, the remains of this chain can be seen in the Fall line in the eastern United States. Some remnants can also be found in the later formed Appalachians in North America. A second phase took place during the Mesozoic Era (before ~65 My) and consisted of a widespread extension of the Earth's crust that rifted and separated the continents mentioned above. This extension was responsible for the formation of many thick intracontinental sedimentary basins including the present Atlas. Most of the rocks forming the surface of the present High Atlas were deposited under the ocean at that time. Finally, in the Tertiary Period (~65 million to ~1.8 million years ago), the mountain chains that today comprise the Atlas were uplifted as the land masses of Europe and Africa collided at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula. Such convergent tectonic boundaries occur where two plates slide towards each other forming a subduction zone (if one plate moves underneath the other) and/or a continental collision (when the two plates contain continental crust). In the case of the Africa-Europe collision, it is clear that tectonic convergence is partially responsible for the formation of the High Atlas, as well as for the closure of the Strait of Gibraltar and the formation of the Alps and the Pyrenees. However, there is a lack of evidence for the nature of the subduction in the Atlas region, or for the thickening of the Earth's crust generally associated with continental collisions. In fact, one of the most striking features of the Atlas to geologists is the relative small amount of crustal thickening and tectonic shortening despite the important altitude of the mountain range. Recent studies suggest that deep processes rooted in the Earth's mantle may have contributed to the uplift of the High and Middle Atlas. The Tineghir region is wedged between two mountain ranges, stretching over 700 kilometres southwest to northeast Morocco: the High Atlas in the north, with a high peak over 4,167 metres, and the Little Atlas in the south. The road from Ouarzazate to Imtghren parallels the mountains. During the Mesozoic the region was invaded by the sea, where thick deposits of sediments rich in marine fossils (particularly of the ammonitida class). The uplift of the Atlas Mountains (primarily during the Neogene) caused the withdrawal of the sea and the deformation of rocks into folds and faults. Wind and river erosion eventually shaped the desert landscape of limestone and clay. The Todgha River has widened these layers of rock, giving rise to canyons 300 metres high but in some places only 10 metreswide. The river widens, developing an oasis edged with the red ochre of the desert.
Land uses and economical activities:The economy of Tinghir is based on agriculture, trade and tourism. In addition, many families live on money sent home by relatives working in Europe.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:The Dades Valley is called the Country of the Figs, which distinguishes it from the drier Draa Valley to the South of Ouarzazate which is called the country of the Dates. The Dades River flows through the valley quenching a miraculous, winding path of fruit, walnut, wheat, silver birch and almond trees.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
The Dades Valley runs from Ouarzazate and stretched 100 miles to the east to Tineghir and the Todra Gorge. The drive is spectacular, with hundreds of Kasbahs lining the route, winding through stunning desert landscapes, villages, palm groves, and with the expansive Jebel Sarhro lunar-scape to the south. The Dades Valley has a wild landscape, with snow on one side and semi-desert on the other, its savage grandeur and unearthly silence can be equalled only by the Grand Canyon. The Berbers erected hundreds and hundreds of Kasbahs in this valley.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Architectonical elements /Sculptures:
The earthen constructions of southern Morocco are rightly celebrated, for they represent a particular family of pre-Saharan architecture, which is common to all countries of the Great Maghreb, Mauritania and Libya. The area comprises the oases and villages of El Kelaa M’gouna, Boumalne, Msnemrir, Skoura (Dades valley), and Tinghir (Todgha Gorge). In all of them there are homes which are built mainly with soil, though palm trunks and leaf-heads are used in roof construction. In Tineghir, there is the the Glaoui’s Kasbah, perched on a rocky outcrop. The kasbah of sheikh Basou Ou-Ali, in the southern part of the town on Bir Anzarane avenue, houses a small museum. The Aït el Haj Ali district is Tinghir’s old Mellah, its narrow streets are lined with high adobe dwellings, it has preserved for centuries the authentic atmosphere of Southern Moroccan villages.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
B) Related to ancient remains
- Traces in the environment of human activity: Agriculture, palm groves, earthen architecture.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Population, ethnic groups: The city of Tinghir has a population of 36,000 and the area has 86,500 inhabitants, according to the 2004 census. The predominant ethnic group is Amazighs.
- Languages and dialects: Berber dialects. Moroccan Arabic French.
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Berber (Amazigh) traditions and rules.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-Dades Valley, Dades and Todgha Gorges. -The oases and villages: El Kelaa M’gouna, Boumalne, Msnemrir, Skoura, and Tinghir.
- Living heritage
Authenticity:The architectural style is well preserved and the earthen constructions of the oases are perfectly adapted to the climatic conditions and are in harmony with the natural and social environment.
Universality:Med-O-Med describes the universality of the site according to the UNESCO criteria defined for Cultural Landscapes: iii) Dades and Todgha oases bear an exceptional testimony to a berber cultural tradition. iv) The Kasbash and ksars of Dades and Todgha illustrate the main types of earthen constructions that may be observed in Morocco. v) All the oases comprised in this group are a sample of the the traditional earthen habitat, representing a part of the Moroccan culture which has become vulnerable as a result of irreversible socio-economic and cultural change. It can be observed in the agricultural practices or the traditional irrigation system that still remain in the oasis. vii) The natural area contained in this Cultural Landscape, including the Anti-Atlas mountaisn, the Dades river, valley and gorge, also the Todgha gorge, etc., are of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. viii) The Atlas mountains are believed to have originally been formed as part of Alleghenian orogeny. These mountains were formed when Africa and America collided. vii) The natural area contained in this Cultural Landscape, including the Atlas mountain and the Ziz river and valley are of natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:-The traditional earthen architecture. -The agricultural style of the palm groves and other crops of the oases. -The Berber culture.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Dades Valley and Todgha Gorge Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://www.morocco.com/blog/todra-and-dades-gorges-of-morocco-sheer-sister-canyons http://cu-tinghir.com/ http://www.morocco-like-a-local.com/morocco-travel/guide-tinghir.html http://www.maplandia.com/morocco/sud/ouarzazate/tineghir/ http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 -Harris, W.B. (1895), Tafilet, the narrative of a journey of exploration in the Atlas Mountains and the oases of the north-west Sahara, Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara , Italy. -UNESCO (2012). Inventory of Earthen archetecture. World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme.
Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.