Just outside Ouarzazate lays Ait-Ben-Haddou, one of the film industry`s most used locations!
Ait-Ben-Haddou has very distinctive buildings clinging to the mountainside. The houses and the hillside blend in with the same reddish color. The old town consists of many, many Kasbahs, built close together to resist attacks. The town looks out over the valley with the river Ounila flows slowly downwards.
We are crossing the nearly dry riverbed and are approaching Ait-Ben-Haddou from the south. We have to balance on big rocks and are impressed by this amazing architecture. But first we have to pass the small alley down to the river with the typical tourist shops. You will also find small shops inside Ait-Ben-Haddou, but the sellers are not as pushy as in the Medina in Marrakech.
Ait-Ben-Haddou is a fortified town built in clay and the age is not known. In 1987 Ait-Ben-Haddou was put on UNESCO`s World Heritage List. But Moroccan authorities have protected the city since 1953. Ait-Ben-Haddou is a typical example of south Moroccan architecture. In this area a Kasbah is built in clay and represent the traditional way of living. But these clay houses are easily damaged by rain. A new town is built on the opposite side of the river and most inhabitants have moved over here. Some few families still live inside the Kasbahs in Ait-Ben-Haddou. Because the city is on Unesco`s list, its very well taken care of and repairs are constantly done with local clay and earth. Ait-Ben-Haddou is considered one of the most beautiful and best taken care of towns of this kind. The architecture is typical for this part of Sahara Desert.
Lawrence of Arabia was the first Hollywood movie filmed at this location. Later, many movies and TV series have used Ait-Ben-Haddou as a location. Among others; Orson Welles Sodom and Gomorra and Jesus of Nazareth. When we visited, they were just starting to film the TV series Hieroglyphs.
Take the time to climb all the way to the top and enjoy the great view. Sunrise is said to be the best time to visit. I am sure sunset is great as well! We did not manage to do either, but we had a great experience even if it was in the middle of the day. We strolled leisurely through the narrow alleys toward the top. We took our time to look and examine the architecture and do some shopping in the small boots as well.
How to get there:
From Ouarzazate you can take a taxi. Remember to agree on a price in advance. We paid 500 DH for 4 persons and the taxi driver waited for us for 2 hours. It was just enough time to enjoy this great fortified town.
From Marrakech its best to organize it as a day trip with a car and driver.
You can also take the bus through the High Atlas to Ouarzazate and a Taxi from there. This is not a day trip but the trip across the mountains are incredible beautiful! Read more about that in: Across High Atlas to Ouarzazate.