My grandmother once told me it’s not just about the destination, but also about the journey. And that rang so true as I headed off with a driver to travel through the beautiful N’Fis Valley in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains en route to the Tin Mal Mosque. We passed riverbeds filled with olive trees, rugged edges and steep cliffs, little Berber villages where the mud-brick houses dotted the hillside, and landscapes never failed to impress.
And so as I set out one Saturday morning, I was excited to visit a historical site I’d longed to visit since travelling to Andalusia. The Tin Mal Mosque.
But I have to say from the outside, it wasn’t what I was expected.
Until I stepped inside.
You see, typically non-Muslims are prohibited from entering mosques in Morocco. As this particular mosque is no longer operating as a religious site, but rather a historical site, I was free to go inside. Upon entering, the security guard insisted on a guided tour explaining that the mosque was built during the reign of the Almohad dynasty, before expanding the empire to Marrakech and eventually to Seville where the Koutoubia Mosque and La Giralda church tour are built in the same architectural style.
My guide also explained that when the Almoravid dynasty (who ruled after) came along they destroyed the original village of Tinmel, leaving only the mosque as it is a religious site. Today the village has a new mosque where locals pray as only 65 families remain.
He then ended the tour by letting me know that he lives ALONE in the village as I wandered off to admire the gorgeous arches and sunlit space.