Ksar Ait Ben Haddou: A Historic Gem in Ouarzazate, Morocco

The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, fortified tribal village, located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate, MoroccoA Fascinating Stop on 4×4 Morocco Tours

One 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.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Preserving Moroccan Earthen Architecture

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.

The Remarkable Architecture and History of Ait Ben Haddou

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 the earthen architecture of the pre-Saharan regions of Morocco.

Immerse Yourself in the Film Set of Gladiator and Other Classics

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.

360 Degree View of Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco

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.


  • 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?2023-05-25T22:07:07+00:00

Ait-Ben-Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient city in Morocco. It continues to be home to a few Berber families who have resided there for generations.

Initially constructed as a Kasbah—a fortified structure with towering walls and towers—the city derives its name, Ait-Ben-Haddou, from its founder, Ben-Haddou, a prominent Berber Chief.

When was Ait-Ben-Haddou built?2023-05-25T22:08:11+00:00

The historic town of Ait-Ben-Haddou in Morocco showcases exquisite Southern Moroccan architecture, dating back to the 11th century. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the town sits atop a hill, featuring a prominent Kasbah. Constructed with clay, straw, and wood, the buildings boast roofs adorned with red tiles. Originally serving as a caravanserai along the Marrakech-Timbuktu route, it eventually evolved into a thriving permanent settlement.

How do you get to Ait-Ben-Haddou?2023-05-25T22:09:20+00:00

Ait-Ben-Haddou, renowned for its Kasbah, is a village in Morocco accessible via multiple transportation options. The recommended approach is flying into Ouarzazate Airport and then taking a taxi to the village. Buses are also available from Ouarzazate to Ait-Ben-Haddou, albeit a lengthy journey. For cost-saving measures, one can opt for a bus from Marrakech to Ouarzazate, followed by a transfer to the bus heading to Ait-Ben-Haddou. Alternatively, a taxi from Ouarzazate is the priciest mode of transport.

Visit Ait Ben Haddou

Dining Outdoors Morocco Desert, Bottle of Wine and Glasses Set at Beldi Dining Table

Luxury Morocco Desert Tour

3 Day Holiday

Experience the ultimate luxury Morocco desert tour with our 2 nights stay at authentic accommodation. You will not only get to explore the stunning desert landscapes, but also witness the majestic Ait Ben Haddou and The Atlas Film Studios. Ride a camel through the desert at sunset and enjoy the traditional Berber music around the campfire, creating a magical atmosphere. Our tour offers the ideal mix of adventure and comfort, making it an extraordinary trip you will never forget. Join us on this journey and discover the beauty of Morocco like never before.

The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, fortified tribal village, located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate, Morocco

Ait Ben Haddou & Kasbah Telouet

Day Trip

The Ait Ben Haddou Day Trip from Marrakech is a must-do for anyone visiting Morocco. Located in the Atlas Mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the famous Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, an ancient fortress that has been used as a filming location for blockbuster movies such as Gladiator and Game of Thrones. The journey to Ait Ben Haddou takes you through the stunning Tizi n’Tichka Pass and past the mountainside Kasbah Telouet. The day trip includes a guided tour of the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou and free time to explore the winding streets and market stalls. It’s a breathtaking journey through history and an unforgettable experience.


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