I have seen your two kasbahs and your ruined mosque. I have seen you completely, seated on your plinth, face to the desert, deserted in the silence, under the glowing sun. I have seen your palms, to-day half withered.
Truly, you are the work of man, of Ma el Ainin at the zenith of his power.
Three hours only they permitted me to wander among your ruins — to be driven immediately far from your sight. And those three hours I could not spend in contemplation, nor could I wander as I would, nor for a moment rest; running over you — like an anatomist — counting the bays of your mosque, distances, plotting the location of your buildings and their orientation.
— Michel Vieuchange, Smara, the Forbidden City (E.P. Dutton, 1932)