When we arrived the sun was already setting and only a silhouette was still visible. Max had wanted to explore the fort last year, but Lukas wanted to press on back then. After some discussion it was decided to camp at the foot of the hill this time around, and explore the fort the next morning.
As we walked up the hill, there were some hints to the place’s past already; very old, rusty strands of barbed wire were half-buried in the rocky ground.
On the other side, a road goes up the hill, making it accessible by car. If we’d have known we might have camped up there the night before.
On the inside a lot of the fort is crumbling. It’s been constructed with a few different methods, but most of it either consists of or is held together by dried mud mixed with gravel. Clearly, that material doesn’t stand the test of time all that well.
The towers, or what’s left of them, had floors made from corrugated metal supported by wooden beams. Locals, with their appetite for firewood or construction material, have come in and cut out most of the wooden beams wherever accessible, and most of these floors have collapsed as well.
Finding info on this place was not so easy, but it appears to have been a French military fort, from the days when Morocco was a French protectorate. The only real clue to that, was some French imprints on tiles that had come loose. It was supposedly abandoned shortly after Moroccan independence in 1956, meaning it’s been unused for up to 60 years.
The fort lies right on what used to be the border between French and Spanish Morocco, probably serving to protext French interests in the area. I’ve read it was manned by local berber regiments serving the French army, called “goumiers”. All considered, this is really one of the lesser known forts compared to Tazzougerte and Bou Jerif.
Interestingly, the fort was part of the scenery for a 2005 TV-show featuring well-know survivalist “Bear Grylls”. It was called “Escape to the Legion”, in which Bear goes through a month-long French Foreign legion training. The fort looked just as abandoned back then as it is now, save for some French flags they planted on the towers, probably for the TV-show. However, it seems that the nearby Ksar Tafnidilt, a different structure that lies within walking distance in the valley used to be a Foreign Legion camp. The legionnaires have since left, and Ksar Tafnidilt is now a fancy, expensive camping and hotel for 4×4 drivers and tourists.
I quite enjoyed walking around this place, the earthy red and orange tones of the crumbling walls was a nice change form the usual abandonments I visit. Makes me eager to go back to Morocco and find some more places like this!