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Address: Rissani, Morocco
Phone Number: +(212)670912536
Website
Description:

Sijilmassa (pronounced see-jill-moss-uh), a national historic site...

Sijilmassa (pronounced see-jill-moss-uh), a national historic site recognized by Morocco's Ministry of Culture, was the fabled and ancient Berber capital of the Tafilalet Kingdom located at the northern edge of the Sahara desert that once rivaled Marrakech.

Founded in A.D. 757 on the banks overlooking the Oued Ziz, a river in the oasis region of the Sahara desert, Sijilmassa grew wealthy and powerful during the Middle Ages as a gold-trade-route city strategically located at the exit-point of the western Trans-Saharan caravan trade route -- which extended from the Niger River in the Sudan to Tangier in northern Morocco.

From the 10th to the 12th centuries Sijilmassa was the center of the Gold trade between Morocco and the Sudan, and its legendary glory owes much to this position. Even after its fall as a great commercial center and caravan endpoint, the region of Sijilmassa remained instrumental in the minting of gold brought from the Sudan.

Until the 10th century, control over the right to mint coins was held by the central government in the Orient as a means to control the vast expanses of the Arab world. Gold became a key resource in managing the growth of Arab and European economies in the North, and when confronted with the lack of it in their own territories, they started spinning myths about the abundance of gold south of the Sahara that greatly increased caravan commerce. As the flow of gold increased, the temptation to refine and mint it on the way, rather than at its final destination also increased. The minting of gold in Sijilmassa was one of the first acts of rebellion of the Fatimid dynasty, who originated from what is modern day Tunisia (Ifriqiya). In doing so, they directly opposed the ruling government in Baghdad.

Sudanese gold refined in Sijilmassa also made it to Europe, where it was minted into European coins. The identical quality and gold proportion between European and Moroccan coins attests to the importance of trade between these regions- and it seems that Europeans minted similar coins precisely to purchase Maghrebi luxury goods.

Sijilmassa was initially destroyed in 1363 and rebuilt by Sultan Moulay Isma'il, one of the first rulers (1672 - 1727) of the Alaouite dynasty that governs Morocco today. Ultimately, the city of Sijilmassa was conquered by Ait Atta nomads in 1818. The Roman ruins and Grand Mosque, which was last rebuilt in 1796 and serves as the central feature of this medieval town, are made of unbaked brick that require continual maintenance to preserve.

In 1996 Sijilmassa was included on the very first World Monuments Watch "List of 100 Most Endangered Sites", a list created to focus international attention on the cultural significance and threats to endangered locations worldwide, as well as to help raise the necessary funds for preservation. The Watch is a program of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered works of art and architecture around the globe.

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History

I passed through these ruins, not much of it left, on my way from Merzouga to Erfoud. The place was once an important trade town and harbors a rich history for the Gold trade. It... read more

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 6 January 2016
TheGlacierist
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Windsor, Canada
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13 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 9: English reviews
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5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

sijilmassa day tour in rissani it's mazing to know it by local guide Younes his english fantastic he do his best to understand him for all trory around rissani tenghras too molay aly sharif and mesouem alfida

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Thank Merzouga S
San Francisco, California
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108 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 May 2016

Siljilmassa, built in the 8th century on Oued Ziz in the Tafilate oasis with approx 30K people living there throughout its history. Sijilmasa became a vital trading post located on the Trans-Saharan trade route and became the trade Mecca of Maghreb through salt and gold in the Middle Ages. Sultan Moulay Ismail, rebuilt Sijilmasa in the 18th century but then... More 

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Thank worldseeker2014
Windsor, Canada
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1,425 reviews
933 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 608 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 January 2016

I passed through these ruins, not much of it left, on my way from Merzouga to Erfoud. The place was once an important trade town and harbors a rich history for the Gold trade. It was a pivotal town also for the two important dynasties in Morocco: Almoravids and Almohads.

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1 Thank TheGlacierist
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
82 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 136 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 December 2015

Sijilmassa, which predates Marrakech by a few centuries, came into prominence as the harsh direct caravan routes between Egypt and Ghana and old Sudan slowly turned indirect, via the North African coast line and then southwards onto Sijilmassa and further southwards into Mali and Ghana. The city, as a frontier city before Saharas, became a pivot in the gold trade... More 

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1 Thank t1nkud
Marrakech, Morocco
Level Contributor
102 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 December 2015

I have visited this place and learned about the Caravan saray that has passed here over ages ago, which goes back into the medieval ages, while this region was salf, gold, ivory and slavory roads, as the region was very rich as well, Sijilmasa now has nothing left just a few walls, which is not even protected by the Unesco... More 

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1 Thank IBouyecho
Hollywood, Florida
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122 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 January 2015

visited the ruins along the river.it was a medieval town. irt was interesting and and in one area, we had to remove our shoes on the carpets. we had some nice tea and relaxed.

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1 Thank y0frank
ouarzazate
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 August 2014

The city was located in present day southeastern Morocco, the ruins of which can be found along the river Ziz in the Tafilalt oasis. The city served as the terminus for the Trans-Sahara trade route till the 14th century and was one of the most important centers for trade during the Golden era of the Berber dynasties. In the 14th... More 

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2 Thank toursinmorocco
Pennington, New Jersey
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408 reviews
195 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 July 2014

During our visit to Rissani we visited the Sijilmassa ruins. We learned that this was an important and vibrant trading center during the Middle Ages. Considering the dust storms and other natural elements that have caused erosion over the past several centuries, it is amazing how much of the former Berber city is still very evident. Also located in the... More 

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6 Thank jonahNJ
Husser, Louisiana
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 June 2012

The city was located in present day southeastern Morocco, the ruins of which can be found along the river Ziz in the Tafilalt oasis. The city served as the terminus for the Trans-Sahara trade route till the 14th century and was one of the most important centers for trade during the Golden era of the Berber dynasties. Excavations in the... More 

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5 Thank Shilia

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