Castles Made of Sand Revisited : Dar Soltane

Castles Made of Sand Revisited : Dar Soltane

Dar Soltane ( the Sultan’s House built in the late 18th century ) is an impressive ruin in the sand dunes south of Essaouira.  It was once the home of the sultan of Morocco,  Sidi Mohamed III Ben Abdallah al Qatib.

I initially considered including some of the photographs below in a recent blog post ( here ) regarding the legend of Jimi Hendrix.  Legend incorrectly suggests he was inspired by Dar Soltane to write his song Castles Made of Sand .   However because of the interesting history of the palace in its own right I decided to document the photographs in a separate posting.

The ruins are very easily reached by taking a bus from Essaouira to Diabat,  then walking along the sandy road which leads directly to them.  I approached by walking along the beach from Essaouira,  past the horses and camel rides,  over dunes and a small lagoon and as far as a little lighthouse looking out over the ocean.  Then I cut inland to the ruins which had been visible for a considerable time.

First impressions,  as the great walls struggle out of the suffocating sand and thickets of bushes and trees,  are that the ruins are extremely evocative and must have been magnificent when first constructed.  I have managed to find something of a history online which I have translated and reproduced below together with some photographs.

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Castles Made of Sand : Jimi Hendrix in Essaouira

Castles Made of Sand : Jimi Hendrix in Essaouira

One of the most important things to appreciate about Morocco is to regard legends and traditions with caution.  Moroccans are born story tellers and some may welcome association with historical figures or events; embellishing stories and history is not unusual.

Jimi Hendrix,  one of a number of famous western musicians who have visited Essaouira,  flew into Casablanca in 1969 and spent 11 days in Morocco,  which included some time in Essaouira.  He travelled around Morocco by limousine and a chauffeur, and stayed in 3 different hotels, including “Hotel des Iles” in Essaouira,  the most luxurious accommodation in the town at the time.

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