Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Great Mosque of Taroudant Devastated by Huge Fire

Taroudant's Grand Mosque was ravaged on Tuesday morning by a huge fire. According to authorities the fire began in a carpet following an electrical a short circuit. The historic building, dating from the 16th century, saw the flames reach its foundations and entire sections continue to crumble. 

The fire was attended by the civil protection authorities including Taroudant firefighters. The governor of the province, Fouad Mhamedi, rushed to the scene of the blaze and expressed relief that there did not appear to be any loss of life or injuries.

A group of experts and technicians, including engineers from the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, will today begin the technical evaluation of the damage to the mosque.

Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, who was quick to visit the scene with Fouad Mhamedi, insisted that reconstruction would take place; "We will make it again with all the aesthetic luster and noble architectural grandeur that made the mosque the pride of Taroudant and Morocco," said Toufiq. "We want every piece of this mosque," he insisted.

Taroudant (Arabic: تارودانت‎) is located in the Sous Valley in the southern part of the country. It is situated east of Agadir on the road to Ouarzazate and the Sahara desert and south of Marrakech. It is called the "Grandmother of Marrakech" because it looks like a smaller Marrakech with its surrounding ramparts. In the sixteenth century the Saadians briefly used Taroudant as a capital, before they moved onwards to Marrakech. Today it has the feel of a small fortified market town on a caravan route.

The city is known for its local crafts, including jewelry and carpets.

Unlike Marrakech, almost the entire city of Taroudant is located inside its walls. A new part of the city is being developed outside the city walls around the campus of a faculty of the Ibn Zohr University of Agadir.

Under the Saadi Dynasty Taroudant had its golden age, particularly under the reign of Mohammed ash-Sheikh. He constructed the city walls and built the great mosque and its minaret in 1528.

Considered the largest mosque in the Saadian dynasty, the Great Mosque of Taroudant could hold up to 4,000 worshipers. It was particularly famous for its 27-meter high minaret, the square shape was inspired by that of the Kaaba in Mecca (Saudi Arabia).

It was renewed in the reign of Mohamed Sheikh Saadi in the middle of the sixteenth century.
The town became the capital of the Saadians who used it as a base to attack the Portuguese in Agadir. Although they later made Marrakech their capital, they made the town prosper through the riches of the Sous plain, marketing goods such as sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo

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