Western Sahara Things to Do Tips by sachara Top 5 Page for this destination
Western Sahara Things to Do: 50 reviews and 107 photos
''newtown'' in the desert
After the Spanish left Spanish Sahara, 350.000 Moroccan civilians walked into the Western Sahara, the so-called Green March of 1975, orchestrated by the Moroccan King Hassan II. I was at that time In Marrakesh. I didn´t know exactly what was going on, looking at the impressive procession of thousands of people of all kind like young, old, traditonial, modern, male and female.
After the ceasefire between the Moroccans and Frente Polisario in 1991, Morocco poured money into infrastructure and housing projects. Moroccans from the north have been lured to move to here by tax-free living and prospect of employement.
In the desert we saw many new built houses and urban areas. As an European townplanner it was interesting for me to see, how newtowns are built in these desert areas.
At the northbank of the Oued Saquira el-Hamra at the edge of the town just south of the town gate, we saw this building, looking like a castle.
Like more of the castle-like buildings in the town and area, it was signposted as a military or police building, not a museum or castle to visit by the public anyway.
WARCS wrote me about this building:
What you named as "Castle" in El Aaiún (Laayoune) was the edification where the Headquarters of the Spanish Legion (Tercer Tercio sahariano D. Juan de Austria) were located in El Aaiún until 1975.
Directions: North of Laayoune
Laayoune, oued Saquira el-Hamra
We left Laayoune, looking like a new Moroccan town now. We didn't see the areas, housing Saharawi refugees. Us it told that these are off limits to foreigners.
We left Laayoune at the northern side in the direction of Tarfaya and Tan Tan. Here we had to cross the Oued Saquira el-Hamra. In the oued we saw water. The oued was also lined with trees at some places. Quite a change after all the barren sand in the south.
Directions: The Oued Saquia el-Hamra is at the northern edge of the town.
Laayoune, Place Dchira
In Laayoune you can not find an obvious centre. From the Place du Mechouar, along the Boulevard de Mekka and around Place Dchira you will find several hotels, like hotel Mekka. Here are also restaurants, cafés, banks and several shops.
At the Place Dchira we found an office to arrange our Moroccan insurance for the car. The banks at this square have also ATMs. It was the first place, where we could get Moroccan dirhams after entering from Mauritania.
Directions: Place Dchira is at the southern end of the Boulevard de Mekka.
Laayoune, Moulay Abdel Aziz mosque
East of the Place du Mechouar stands the Moulay Abdel Aziz Mosque of Laayoune. This mosque is built in the standard architecture for modern mosques of Morocco.
The mosque forms also an important part of architecture around the Place Mechouar and along the Boulevard de Mekka.
Directions: East of the Place du Mechouar
Laayoune, Place du Mechouar
All the buildings around the Place du Mechouar and the four towers are made in the same kind of Moroccan architecture, which unity is intensified by the use of the same red-pink colour.
During the day we didn't see much activity at the Place du Mechouar. And I can't imagine there will be often in the evening.
Directions: At the west side of the citycentre, west of the Boulevard de Mekka.
Laayoune, Place de Mechouar
Entering the town from the west, coming from the coast, the first orientationpoint you will see is the Place De Mechouar. Like in other Moroccan cities it is the big central square whithout any shade or protection against the hot sun at the square itself.
Laayoune's place is built by the Moroccans as the town's showpiece, made up with four towers and the Palais de Justice as the central point.
Directions: At the westside of the citycentre, west of the Boulevard de Mekka.
entering Laayoune from the west
Laayoune (or Al-'Uyun, Aaiún, Aiun) lies in the Wadi Hamra region, in the northern part of Western Sahara. The town was founded in 1930 by the Spanish, allthough there were also allready before 1930 settlements in this area. This first town grew up at the southern shores of the wadi Seguiat al Hamra, becoming important as the administrative centre of the phosphate industry. From 1940 to 1975 Laayoune was the capital of Western Sahara or Spanish Sahara, an African overseas province of Spain.
In 1975 Morocco annexed Laayoune and so it became after 1975 the -not internationally recognized- capital of the Laayoune province of Morocco. A second town centre grew up on the hills over old Laayoune.
Today the town has more than 200,000 inhabitants and survives most on Moroccon governmental subsidies.
Directions: North part of the Western Sahara, 476 KM south of Agadir.
road from Foum el-Oued to Laayoune
Laayoune lies about 22 KM inland from the coast. At the coast lies Foum el-Oued. Here you have a beach, an esplanada and soem accommodations. Foum el Oued is a nice and relaxed place for swimming, but be careful because the waves of the ocean can be a bit dangerous. And there a big difference between season and off-season, when all is closed and empty.
We reached Layoune, coming from the Dakhla road from the south. After passing Laayoune-port and Foum el-Oued the road went inland in the east direction. We drove through the sanddunes, which surround Layoune. Allthough we saw allready a lot of sanddunes during our transsahara trip, it is always spectacular again to be in the middle of it. There was hardly any sand on the road, but it looked like the road has to be cleaned from the blowing sands sometimes.
entrance gate Boujdour
Crossing Boujdour from the southern roundabout, through the wide mainstreet, a dual carriageway lined with palmtrees, to the entrance-exit arch at the north side took only three minutes. At the mainstreet we saw a busstation and several shops.
The towns in Western Sahara and South Morocco all have entrance-exit arches.
Directions: Boujdour lies 186 KM south of Laayoune.
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