Every city has its own story and its special and unique written and unread history. It has its writers, historians, poets, wise men and its fools. The history of Moroccan cities is inscribed on palaces, gardens, mosques, churches, and countless other historical monuments.
The beautiful city of Tarfaya is not an exception to this type of historical preservation. Located 100 kilometers south of Laayoune, with a population of 6,000, Tarfaya, or Villa Bens, as it was known during the Spanish colonial period, welcomes visitors with open arms.
Tarfaya was occupied by the British in 1802. They constructed a building on the shore of the city known as Casa Del Mar, a beautiful historical monument that has survived the power of storms, wind and time despite a long history of marginalization on the part of Moroccan authorities.
Casa Del Mar, meaning the house of the sea in Spanish, was once inhabited by more than 400 British businessmen who were deployed on the shores of Trafaya in 1876. They built Casa Del Mar as a commercial centre for their business exchanges with merchants from distant African lands.
The tides of the ocean fill its rooms with every ebb impatiently waited for the water to leave the House so as to be able to reach its inside. Luckily, the ocean understood my sincere desire to visit its house.
As I enter, I am transported into an enchanting spiritual, and metaphysical journey to the silent memory of history, dreams and adventure.
Casa Del Mar is a real witness to the deepest historical relations between Morocco, Spain and Britain. Within its rooms and on its walls lie many forgotten chapters of Moroccan history. This monument can be used as a tourist site help boost the region’s cultural and desert tourism.
Sadly, the building is in a state of complete deterioration, ruin and disrepair. Losing this site implies losing a large and important part of Morocco’s history. For this reason, Casa Del Mar needs and deserves our immediate attention. It calls for great and urgent efforts from local authorities and national experts to save it from destruction.
By Rachid Khouya