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L'Oriental Marocain
Oujda stands on the border with Algeria .Its privileged geographicposition makes it a center for Maghreb tourism and a meeting point of routes between Morocco and other North African countries. Oujda was founded in the tenth century by Ziri Ben Attia, chief of the Meghraoua tribe, and remained the capitalof his kingdom for 80 years. It successively housed the Almoravide and Almohade dynasties, both of whom fortified the city. King Merinide Abou Youssef rebuilt the city in 1297, constructing new walls and a Kasbah, mosque and palace. Moulay Ismail was one of the sovereigns who did most to develop the city.

Oujda was built on the plain of Angad, which is surrounded by one of the most beautiful mountainous regions in Morocco: the Beni-Snassen Mountains. Many streams run from the northern slopes to irrigate the well-kept gardens and orchards. Crossing these imposing mountains affords a magnificent panoramic view of Oujda.

The old medina in Oujda is separated from the new city by walls which are evidence of the city's past, and in which there are four monumental gateways: Bab Ouled Amran, Bab Sidi Aissa, Bab Sidi Abdelwahab and Bab Ahl Jam Al.The Grand Mosque built in the thirteenth century I one of the city's finest monuments.

A walk through the medina is an agreeable experience and leads to the "Kissaria", where shops vie with one another with their local handicraft displays. Through a gateway at the end of this square a courtyard flanked by arches houses the weavers working away enthousiastically on their traditional looms to sounds reminiscent of African rythms

The Place du Souk El Ma (The Water Market), where market gardeners used to come to draw water to irrigate their land, is worth a visit. A stone's throw from here is Souk El Knadsa, selling a wide range of traditional items. Oujda market is also nearby. Along the city walls surrounding the Kasbah stretches the Lalla Meriem Park, perfect for a rest amid the beauty and freshness of exotic vegetation. The Museum of Traditional Arms of the Oujda region is located in the park.

6 kms from the city lies the charming Sidi Yahya oasis, which used to be a meeting point for different civilizations. The mausoleums of a number of saints lie in the oasis, the most venerable being Sidi Yahya Ben Younes.

Some kilometres to the North Oujda is bordered by the sun - drenched beaches of the Mediterranean, which are ideal for water sports and underwater fishing. Saidia, a 20 km strip of fine sand, is a seaside resort greatly appreciated by summer tourists looking for calm, attractive surroundings and the pleasures of Mediterranean sun and sea.

The international festival attracts hordes of national and foreign visitors who come to admire the traditional music and magnificent beach. Saidia, located on the coastal plain of Triffa, is close to a mountainous, forested region which is famous for its abundant game, walking, handsome caves and pleasant picnic areas with unique views.

Between the city and the Mediterranean coast stand the Beni Snassen mountains, famous for their caves, waterfalls, narrow vial Leos and gorges. The Zegzel gorges, where fine orange and olive groves and orchards decorate the slopes, provide a splendid backdrop to a very pleasant tourist route. Terraced cultivation gives an ordered appearance to the scenery and an agreeable division of colors. In the upper reaches of the Zegzel valley some caves house precious secrets. The Tghasrout or "Camel" grotto has fine caves full of limestone formations, while in the Pombo cave there are some very rare prehistoric cave drawings. Along the return route there is a splendid view of Guerbouss, before descending towards the plain of Angad and returning to Oujda.

400 kilometres to the South of Oujda Figuig offers many alternatives for excursions and pleasant stopovers. Its semi-desert climate, historical monuments, innumerable oases and rich and varied fauna are very inviting and tempt the visitor to stay and discover the exotic charms of the region.

The best oases to visit are Bouanane, d'Ain Chain and particularly Figuig. (more than 100 000 trees), Bouanane and drain Chain will impress the visitor. The "Ksours" and its minaret is interesting because of the Arab-Moslem architecture and the materials used in its construction. Another attraction in the region is a plentiful supply of game, including hare, partridge, snipe, gazelle and deer.

Copyright © 2000 Barboucha M