Occupying an important junction of routes between the desert and Meknès and between Fez and Marrakesh, Azrou—from the Berber word for "rock"—is a significant ancient Berber capital named for the city’s quarry of black volcanic rocks. It was one of Sultan Moulay Ismail's strongholds after he built an imposing fortress here (now in ruins) in 1684. For centuries Azrou remained unknown, a secret mountain town that invading forces never fully located, thanks in part to a cave system designed for concealment and protection. Enjoy the mellow pace and lifestyle of traditional Berber mountain life. The interesting Tuesday souk gets crowded, but the small medina is normally comparatively tranquil. Just before Azrou, the enormous freshwater lake of Dayet Azrou is a popular spot for picnics. You can take a boat out on the water, although swimming is not allowed.

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