A visit to Rissani, with its traditional market and Moroccan hospitality, can feel like stepping back in time. Its confluence of Berber and Arab cultures and rural desert setting make it one of the best towns to experience traditional Moroccan culture. Even though it is no longer a weigh station for camel caravans, souk days still boast a sheep and goat market and a full donkey park.
Rissani was once home to the Alawite dynasty as they took power, as well as Moulay er Rachid. It is a cultural destination in Morocco with beautiful examples of early Moroccan architecture and noteworthy palaces and temples, such as Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim and Ksar Aber. It is important for those who travel to Morocco to note that some buildings and religious sites do not allow access to non-Muslims, but most of the sites are just as spectacular to view from the outside. The streets are lined with vendors, and Rissani is best known today as a leather producer. High quality leather is produced by the locals, made from goatskins that are carefully tanned with the use of Tamarisk bark.
The main gate of the city, known as a bab, is one of many spectacular Moroccan structures. Even though their function might differ, all the babs that are located within Rissani are beautifully decorated, with bright colors and lavish designs. Each bab is unique and spectacular in its own way. The entrance to the Moulay Ali Sharif tomb can easily be mistaken for a bab because of its similar design and construction. The interior is breathtaking, but this is one of the sites that can only be entered by followers of Islam.
This diverse Moroccan destination is also well known for its market, or souk. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are the busiest market days, where locals and visitors can be seen shopping for jewelry, souvenirs, gifts, spices, fruits, vegetables, and arts and crafts. Rissani is very interesting to visit because of its cultural diversity of berber, arab and desert communities, all recognizable and differentiated by their clothing style and colors worn. While in Rissani, make sure to try the local traditional food Mdfouna (pizza tradition). Rissani promises to be a Moroccan destination that is filled with adventure, flavor, color, and unforgettable memories.
In Hotel Panorama, you are in the center of the old king's city Rissani.
As promised in the name, the terrace at the top of the hotel allows you to enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the heart of the last city before the desert. This is a perfect place for enjoying a typical Moroccan tea or coffee.
Old City Sijilmassa
Founded around 757 AD by Zenete Berbers, one of the great nomadic tribes, during the reign of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks, Sijilmassa is the oldest city in South Morocco. It was founded as the capital of the Kharijites, a religious and political movement. Sijilmassa was the western terminus for cross-Sahara trade routes and an important stopping point in the gold trade. The city flourished until the twelfth century and then declined until its total destruction in 1818 by the Almoravids. Today the few ruins from Sijilmassa outside Rissani are protected by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture.
Located in the city center, the souk of Rissani is the biggest souk of the Tafilalet region. It attracts traders and buyers more than 150 kilometers away and is particularly busy on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. It sells everything: dates of Tafilalet, vegetables, spices, animals, household goods, arts and crafts. Tourists will often be invited by vendors to look at their goods or even to drink a glass of Moroccan tea. Don't be shy about accepting their hospitality, but also don't forget to bargain.
Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim
Ksar Oulad Abdelhalim is located 4 km east of the center of Rissani. It was built in 1263 AH (1863) by the Sultan Sidi Mohamed ben Abderrahmane and was inhabited by his son Moulay Rachid. The latter made it the administrative and judicial seat and the place of the council of war. Currently, it still retains vestiges of these three functions, the riad, the stable (weapons depot), and the arsenal. The interior is very damaged but we its beautiful carved entrance door and mud brick walls remain.
The Ksar Abbar is a fortress dating back to the 19th century. This ksar served at the time as a place of exile for all members of the Alaouite royal family. It also housed part of the royal treasury, under the protection of several hundred black soldiers. You can admire an impressive arched door that gives access to a large courtyard, with ruins and two guard towers. Ksar Abbar is representative of the architecture and the organization of the social life within a ksar.