Castle

Castle

Souira Qedima [Aguz], North Africa, Marocco

Military Architecture

The mouth of the Tensift River, on the right bank of which now stands the small town of Souira Qedima, was, since the Portuguese establishment in Safi, about five leagues to the north at a coastal point coveted by Portugal. Although the ownership of the place records grants from 1508, the decision to build a castle of stone and lime would only be put into practice after 1519. Nuno de Mascarenhas proposed to King Manuel I building in what was then called Aguz, to be funded by the crown, but organized, directed and defended from Safi. That same year, João Subtil, bishop of that city, wrote a missive describing the project for a large castle surrounded by water on two sides. Vestiges found in Souira Qedima, whose eastern and southern sides were recently restored, formally confirm the bishop’s description, but attest to a reduction by half of the initial plan. Contrary to the 130 fathoms proposed, the perimeter of the work undertaken has only 65. It consists of a square castle with more than 35 metres each side, taking into account the corners stolen by the two cylindrical bastions on the northwest and southeast angles. The walls are reinforced on the lower level by a solid cavetto which serves as a breakwater on the southwestern corner. The entrance was made through the eastern sector, sheltered by the bastion, to an interior that included the usual offices, protected by a wraparound parapet walk 39 palms above ground level with access to the parapet of loopholes and battlements. The bastions had radial gun emplacements which also covered the flanks with the capacity to hold heavier artillery. In 1520, the castle appears to have been completed, as Duarte Fogaça is presented as the prior of a recently built and populated Castle of Aguz. History lost track of the Castle of Aguz around 1524 or 1525, but it certainly succumbed to the permanent and increasing threats by the southern shariff.

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