Sefrou is an old small Berber town (in the region of Fez -Boulemane in northern Morocco), located along the river ‘Oued Aggaï’ on the edge of the Middle Atlas Mountains (at an altitude of about 850 meters), and is also known as the ‘Garden of Morocco’. The fertile soils, abundant water from streams and springs, and a mild four season climate make this land a place where nearly anything will grow. In the 7th century (in pre-Islamic times), a first small settlement was established by the Jewish Berber tribe of ‘Ahel Sefrou’.
The city Sefrou has been founded in the 8th century. Sefrou is far older than ‘Fez’. In 789, ‘Idris I’ (the first Arab ruler of the ‘Idrisiden’ dynasty) set the plans for the installation of Fez. However, it was his successor ‘Idris II’ which is considered the real founder of the independent ‘Idrisiden’ state. In 809, when Idries II (the second ruler of the ‘Idrisid’ Dynasty) built the city of Fez, he lived in Sefrou. During this period, Fez had been converted to the capital of Morocco.
For centuries, Sefrou was a major trading post for traders crossing from the Mediterranean to the Sahara. The city has been developed as a traditional walled city (completely surrounded by an oval ramparts) with specific areas for markets (souks), a Mellah, a Muslim neighborhood (medina), a fort (kasbah), five mosques which are spread over the medina, and an outlying market. In the 11th century Sefrou was a walled city of some importance.
In the 15th century, during the ‘Meriniden’ dynasty, a special Jewish quarter (Mellah) was built within the medina (which is the oldest Jewish quarter in Morocco). The kasbah was built by the Alawites Sultan ‘Moulay Ismail’ (between 1672-1727). The main additions to the walls are the ‘Bab el- Maqam’ and the ‘Bab Merba’. Sefrou partially owned its prosperity from the caravan trade.
In the 19th century, as the caravans further shifted their route to Fez, they no longer came through Sefrou and the city lost some of its economic power. During the colonial period, Sefrou’s ‘Sais level’ became the heartland of agricultural development. Between 1960 and 1986 a rapid population shift from rural to urban areas was observed which resulted in a split between the long-time residents and the newcomers.
Sefrou is through the anthropological literature research of ‘Clifford Geertz’ and other scholars a term. Every year in August, there is organized a pilgrimage festival (moussem). Today, the picturesque mountain town is a popular tourist destination. Interesting sights are the ‘Ksar el Kelaa’ (a fortified village) and the ‘Cascades’ (waterfalls).
Sefrou is part of the tourism region ‘Maroc Centre‘ of Morocco.