The capital of eastern Morocco, Oujda stands on the border with Algeria. Its privileged geographic position makes it a center for Maghreb tourism and a meeting point of routes between Morocoo and other North African countries.
Oujda was founded in the tenth century by Ziri Ben Attia, chief of the Meghraoua tribe, and remained the capital of 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.