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Center for Studies and Research of the Alaouite dynasty, Rissani Morocco
Moulay Ali Cherif Mausoleum in Rissani southeast Morocco

Rissani is a small oasis town in Morocco that lies near the northwest edge of the Sahara desert.


Rissani is the closest city with significant population to the Erg Chebbi near Merzouga.

Due to its location at the crossroads between north and south gave it importance in historic times.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

CTM serves Rissani from Fez for 165 dirham, leaving 21:30 and arriving at 07:00 in Rissani. The same bus or a similar connection starts in Meknes at 22:45 and arrives in Rissani at around 7:30, 150 dirham.

From Alnif there are 1-2 buses a day for 20 dirham, 1½ hr.

By grand taxi[edit]

A grand taxi from Merzouga is 12-15 dirham, and from Alnif 25 dirham.

Get around[edit]

On foot mostly.


Moulay Ali Cherif's mausoleum.
  • A lot of ksars (castle or fortified village).
  • Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Chérif. When you go through the big gate ornamented by green ceramics and topped by a dome you will find on your right the big room that shelters the tomb of Moulay Ali Chérif, founder of the Alaouite dynasty. This mausoleum was rebuilt in 1965 after it was destroyed by high waters of the River Ziz. The sacred precinct has a wide yard, a patio and picturesque mosque. Non-Muslims are restricted to the Islamic garden. The tomb and the mosque are off-limits to non-Muslims.
  • Ksar El Fida (4 km to the northeast of Rissani). The most important and the most ancient of the Alaouite ksars in Tafilalet. The first ksar dates back to the reign of King Moulay Ismail who built it to house his son King Moulay Abdellah. It was reduced to rubble except for the high outside walls and the towers. It was rebuilt under the reign of Moulay Abd al Rahman about 800 m southeast of the first site. Until 1965, it was used by the ruling Khalifa or Caid of Tafilalet. The empty inner courts are now a museum. No admission fee. Photographs are not allowed inside.
  • Ksar Oulad Abdelhlim. You can see the souk (market) every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday. It draws people who live around Rissani in the mountains—Berber and Arab nomads. And you can see what people in this area use as medicine, the sheep market and bird market.
  • 1 Sijilmasa (سجلماسة) (on the northwest edge of Rissani). Ruins of a medieval Moroccan city that served as the northern point of the trans-Saharan trade route from about 757–1393 AD. Invaded several times by Berber dynasties. Was excavated in the 1980s-1990s. It is recognized by the World Monuments Fund as an endangered site and preserved by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture. Maybe you can just walk out there from Rissani. Sijilmasa on Wikipedia


  • Walk
  • Rent a bicylce
  • Go to a hammam (public bath)


  • The Rissani souvenir is a plate made from palm tree paper by women in old ksar. This work allows them buy their own things (such as clothes or gold). You can find in the market for a cheap price (5 dirham).
  • You can buy fossils stone—ammonite orthoceras and small decoration.


  • Madfouna or "Berber pizza". A traditional stuffed berber flat bread. It would be stuffed with meat, onion, herbs, spices.


Better to drink mineral water: Sidi ali, Sid hrazem, or Ciel. The maximum​ price of a bottle is 5 or 6 dirham.

A 1-liter bottle of Ciel still water costs 5 dirham. Don't pay more!


  • Hotel Merzouga (close to the souk) for 150 dirham per night/double room. Clean, hot shower, friendly. Small garden in the backside, where you can relax from the day.

Stay safe[edit]

Like many small towns in this region, a major source of income is tourism. Many tourists come to Rissani to spend a night or more in the pre-Saharan Desert.

You will have to contend with some fairly aggressive touts that pounce upon tourists the moment the bus stops. This is particularly noticeable when arriving by CTM because you are dropped off in the medina rather than the bus station.

If you don't want to be hassled from the moment you arrive, find a reputable tour operator prior to arriving in Rissani. Explain to them exactly when you will be arriving and try to arrange for them to meet you at the bus. This will hopefully alleviate much of the hassle.

However if you would prefer to do things the old-fashioned way (and admittedly more exciting and adventurous), just show up. You can usually rid yourself of the touts by issuing a polite (but firm) "La, shokran" to them. Remember that no one is going to harm you, so keep smiling and stay relaxed. And enjoy your amazing trip into the Sahara!

Go next[edit]

The N12 (National road no. 12) starts at Rissani and end in Sidi Ifni, giving a view of the Anti-Atlas mountain range and arid plains with villages where there is water.

  • Alnif – Minibus (25 dirham) from outside the bus station. From there local transport—a seat in a 7-seat taxi costs 25 dirham to Tazzarine. From there another 50 dirham to Zagora.
  • Merzouga – To the south, it provides desert and dunes.

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