The Kasbah Glaoui is a beautiful palace at the foot of the Atlas, far from the bustle of Marrakech. The Kasbah – also known as Kasbah Telouet, after the town where you can find it – is one of the last remnants of the once powerful Moroccan family Glaoui. Partly ruin, partly restored, the kasbah is definitely worth a visit. If you felt the palaces in Marrakech to be beautiful, but too crowded, a visit to this kasbah is a must. Although it is a lot smaller, the architecture equals that of the splendor in Marrakech.
About Kasbah Telouet
The history of the kasbah is intertwined with that of the Glaoui family, and in particular with the last pasha at the head of the family. The road to the town of Telouet was once a major trade route from Marrakech to the Sahara. A perfect place to raise a toll, with which the Glaoui family, the most important family of the area, gathered its fortune. Add to that the many salt mines in the area and remember that salt was used as currency at that time. Yes, the Glaoui clan was rich. Very rich.
A huge castle was built to show of this wealth, but this is not the kasbah you can visit today. It is much more recent than than the first castle the Glaoui family built. The one you see today, was only abandoned in the 1950s and it wasn’t even that long before that the castle got its current shape. This has everything to do with the last pasha of the family: Thami el Glaoui.
Thami worked himself up in politics at the beginning of the last century, when Morocco was a French protectorate. The pasha chose the French side and even supported them to push the Moroccan sultan off the throne. This way Thami el Glaoui managed to gather so much power and wealth that he was soon nicknamed Lord of the Atlas. Such a title naturally requires a matching palace, not only in Marrakech, but also in his birthplace Telouet. That is the moment his old family kasbah got a thorough makeover in an extravagant style to express the position of Thami el Glaoui. As one of the richest men on earth, Thami spared no expense.
The Lord of the Atlas however did not get to enjoy his palace much. It wasn’t even finished when it was abandoned. With the fall of the French protectorate in Morocco, the power of the pasha disappeared as well. Thami el Glaoui was seen as a traiter in the new Morocco. The Glaoui family was that much disgraced that the kasbah and the other possessions of the pasha were taken by the state. The abandoned palace has been falling apart since the 1950s.
A large part of the kasbah is therefore now a ruin, but the part that has been restored gives you a good impression of the palace that Thami el Glaoui was building to reflect his reflection of his power and wealth. After walking around the palace ruins thinking that this was the only thing left of the Kasbah Glaoui, we were deeply impressed by the remaining palace. It is not big – it only has a few renovated rooms – but very impressive with its typical Moroccan mosaic, carvings and detailed ceilings. A small windows offers a pretty view over the hilly landscape around the kasbah.