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Founded in 1948, the thuja craftsmen cooperative has about 60 members nowadays.
Built in the 18th century under Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah, the building was first intended to accommodate the commander of the town and the police magistrate as well as one hundred and twenty soldiers attached to the protection of the city. At some time, not precisely known, it could have sheltered the Zaouia of the Derkaoua as well (a religious community like the one of the Hamadchas, of the Gnaoua etc.)
Under the French Protectorate, at the beginning of the 20th century, the actual building accommodated the first police station of the town then, as soon as 1948, it became the cooperative of inlayers and thuja craftsmen.
This craftwork cooperative has several aims and missions: to develop and promote the sector of thuja craftsmanship, to help the workers to kit out their workplace in accordance to the technical specifications from the Ministry, to encourage them to improve the quality of their products, to prompt them to innovate and to protect and restrict the use of thuja wood and other species in everyday life.
The members of the cooperative are carefully selected among craftsmen who master the techniques relevant to thuja wood in the strictest respect of rules.
Completely restored, the buildings proudly show off their freestone arches that had been hidden under years of whitewash, their woodwork and their murals now renovated or redone.
Visiting this beautiful place is a must both for the architecture of the place but also for the crafts products offered there. A building featuring amongst the first constructions of the town, situated in the midst of covered alleys, at the heart of the town dating from the Portuguese era, in a tangle of houses fitting into one another. Access is via the Moulay Hassan Square, just before the building that used to accommodate the Courthouse or more recently Agenda 21, or by the two entrances in the Scala Street running along the ramparts.
These four arched and covered alleys, one of them being a cul-de-sac, are unique in the town. Just before coming to the thuja cooperative, a superb place, a kind of menzeh or warehouse, with a high ceiling and stone arcades, is used as a workplace by the cooperative craftsmen.
Don’t miss this place or the adjoining alleys which abound with numerous painting stalls, guesthouses, spa etc; a charming and strange walk in the darkness of this maze.