Mansourah – the victorious – never lived up to its name. It started as the camp where Merinid sultan Abou Yacoub settled his army in 1299, when he besieged Tlemcen. The siege lasted eight years, during which the camp became a residence, complete with palace and mosque. Just as the city was about to fall, the sultan was murdered by one of his slaves and the Merinids retreated.
Remains of the 12m-high walls that protected the camp stretch across the olive groves far into the distance. The main sight here is the remains of the massive mosque, rebuilt by Sultan Abou el-Hassan of Fès when he came to besiege Tlemcen in 1335. The prayer hall measures 60m by 55m, but most impressive is the 40m minaret, a twin of the Tour Hassan in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville, its inner side having fallen leaving it a vulnerable and evocative shell. The site is open at all times.