Taroudant was one of the early bases of the Almoravids, who established themselves here in 1056 AD, at the beginning of their conquest of Morocco. In the 16th century, the emerging Saadians made it their capital for about 20 years. By the time they moved on to Marrakesh, they had turned the Souss Valley, in which the city stands, into the country’s most important producer of sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo; all valuable trade items on the trans-Saharan trade routes the dynasty was keen to control. The Saadians constructed the old part of town and the kasbah, though most of it was destroyed and the inhabitants massacred in 1687 by Moulay Ismail, as punishment for opposing him. Only the ramparts survived. Most of what stands inside them dates from the 18th century.
Taroudant continued to be a centre of intrigue and sedition against the central government well into the 20th century, and indeed played host to El Hiba, a southern chief who opposed the Treaty of Fès, the 1912 agreement that created the French Protectorate.