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Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, Morocco

Home » Places to Visit in Morocco » Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, Morocco

The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, fortified tribal village, located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate, MoroccoOne of the most fascinating and impressive places we stop on the way to the desert on our 4×4 Morocco Tours is Ait Ben Haddou.  You can stop for a visit or this is a great place to stay overnight at one of our carefully selected boutique French-Moroccan hotels with a pool and excellent service.  Alternatively, the luxury hotel Ksar Ighnda is a larger place with a grand garden and a lovely pool which is perfect for families.

Ait Ben Haddou is a historic ighrem or ksar along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.  It was also the setting for part of the film, Gladiator.

Information from UNESCO:(Creative Commons License)

The Ksar is a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls and is a traditional pre-Saharan habitat. The houses crowd together within the defensive walls, which are reinforced by corner towers. Ait-Ben-Haddou, in Ouarzazate province, is a striking example of the architecture of southern Morocco.

Located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas in the Province of Ouarzazate, the site of Ait-Ben-Haddou is the most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley. The ksar is a mainly collective grouping of dwellings. Inside the defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together – some modest, others resembling small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick – but there are also buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. The oldest constructions do not appear to be earlier than the 17th century, although their structure and technique were propagated from a very early period in the valleys of southern Morocco. The site was also one of the many trading posts on the commercial route linking ancient Sudan to Marrakesh by the Dra Valley and the Tizi-n’Telouet Pass. Architecturally, the living quarters form a compact grouping, closed and suspended. The community areas of the ksar include a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification and a loft at the top of the village, an caravanserai, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer. The Ksar of Ait- Ben-Haddou is a perfect synthesis of earthen architecture of the pre-Saharan regions of Morocco.

While spending the day here, you can take a horse trek from Ait Ben Haddou on the stallions which have been trained for the Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate.  This is also worth a visit on the way down to the Sahara, where films such as Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and The Sheltering Sky were filmed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What has been filmed at Ait-Ben-Haddou?2022-10-03T12:14:06+00:00

Ait-Ben-Haddou is a Kasbah located in Morocco, it served as a backdrop for many famous films and TV shows since the 1920s. The following is a list of some notable productions that have been filmed at Ait-Ben-Haddou.

Films:

  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
  • The Mummy (1999)
  • Gladiator (2000)
  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
  • Noah(2014)

TV Shows:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Marco Polo
  • Narcos
  • Vikings
  • The Last Legion
Do people live in Ait-Ben-Haddou?2022-10-03T12:11:07+00:00

Ait-Ben-Haddou is an ancient city in Morocco that is now a World Heritage Site. It is still inhabited by a small number of Berber families who have lived there for centuries.

The city was originally built as a Kasbah, which is a type of fortress with high walls and towers. The name Ait-Ben-Haddou means “the tribe of Ben Haddou” named after its founder, Ben-Haddou, a Berber Chief.

When was Ait-Ben-Haddou built?2022-10-03T12:10:24+00:00

The town of Ait-Ben-Haddou in Morocco was built in the 11th century and is a fine example of Southern Moroccan architecture. It was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1987.

The town is built on a hill, with the Kasbah at its peak. The walls and buildings are all made from clay, straw, and wood, and the roofs are covered with red tiles. The town was originally used as a stopover for caravans travelling between Marrakech and Timbuktu, but it soon became a permanent settlement.

How do you get to Ait-Ben-Haddou?2022-10-03T12:09:41+00:00

Ait-Ben-Haddou is a village in Morocco that is famous for its Kasbah. The easiest way to get there is by flying into Ouarzazate Airport and then taking a taxi to the village. There are also buses that run from Ouarzazate to Ait-Ben-Haddou, but it’s a long ride. If you’re looking to save money, you can also take a bus from Marrakech to Ouarzazate and then transfer onto the bus to Ait-Ben-Haddou. And finally, you can also take a taxi from Ouarzazate – this will be the most expensive option.

2022-10-03T12:19:45+00:00

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