Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah or Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is a traditional and fortified village on the slopes of the High Atlas Mountains. The Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah is located in the province of Ouarzazate City. On the route from Marrakech, the kasbah is just 30 km far from Ouarzazate. It is built with earthen bricks with huge defensive walls to protect the interior. Moreover, its traditional techniques show the impressive skill and craftsmanship of the local Amazigh people. In 1987, UNESCO described it as a World Heritage Site. It is also one of the best-preserved sites, presenting the largest Kasbah in Morocco. Besides, it presents the best example of the Moroccan architecture. Therefore, most Morocco desert tours include this Moroccan destination.
what is the difference between a Kasbah and Ksar?
The Ksar or Qsar is a collection of clay brick houses surrounded by high walls topped by towers. The houses were stacked inside the defensive walls. They were also designed to defend the harvest and palm orchards beside the rivers. On the other hand, Kasbahs is simply a palace. Usually, rich or ruling families inhabit the kasbahs. Both Kasbah and Ksar are very specific features. They are Buildings with a square floor plan. They usually have quad towers in each of their corners.
Ait Ben Hadou Kasbah breif history
Ksar Ait Ben Haddou refers to the name of the tribe that first lived in it. “Ait” refers to the tribal group, “Ben” refers to sons and “Haddou” refers to the name of the group leader. It is believed that the Kasr of Ait Ben Haddou was founded in 757, and its founder was Ben Haddou. His grave is still behind this Kasbah. Most of the indigenous people of Kasser Ait Ben Haddou moved to modern homes. However, only a few families still live in the Kasbah now. The modern part of the village dates back to the 17th century.
Ait Ben Haddou served as an important camel caravan stop on the trade route from Sudan to Marrakech through Telouet. Traders transported salt, gold, and slaves over the desert. It was a bustling city with thousands of inhabitants, tiny palaces, a public plaza, a mosque, housing for caravan travellers, a grain store and Jewish and Muslim graves. The Kasbah was then abandoned, but many of its structures were preserved. That is why it is now a popular tourist destination with a rich history.
Movies in Ait Ben Haddou
Thanks to its medieval design and traditional architecture, the Kasbah has attracted many film directors to film films and television series. Many movies such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Wrestler,” “Game of Thrones,” and ” Gladiator” were filmed here. Each view of the Kasbah shows a different aspect of the beauty of the movie screen. Besides, there is an Atlas studio in Ouarzazat where there are other photographic materials for filming.
What to do in Ait Ben Haddou?
Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah is divided into two parts. They are separated by the bottom of the Ounila River and the bridge. There is an Old City and New City, where you will find accommodation and restaurant options. You can cross the river directly or use the bridge.
The best way to explore this mud town of Ait Ben Haddou is on foot. You can see this beautiful city as you cross the river. Besides, you will admire some historic homes on the interior by walking through the buildings. You can also visit little museums, which sometimes only cost one euro. They will provide a unique look into a past life.
On the way to the top of Ait ben Haddou, you’ll find lots of souvenir shops and some terraced cafes. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a great view of the desert landscape. In addition, you can view the Atlas Mountains and lovely clay houses all around the valley. Another thing to do is watch the sunset. On one of the terraces, you can have mint tea while watching the views and the sunset at the end of your day.
How to go to Ait Ben Haddou From Marrakech?
You must travel via the Atlas Mountains to reach Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakech. It will take you almost 4 hours of driving through the Tizi n’Tichka. A private trip is the best way to see Ait Ben Hadduo and make stops in each view, but there are other possibilities. Firstly, you can rent a car. It’s an excellent choice to rent a car and drive yourself, but bear in mind that driving in Morocco is an experience. Roads might lead to challenging situations, and you must feel confident enough to deal with them. In Morocco, the majority of car rental agencies need an insurance deposit of between €800 and €1200.
Secondly, you can use travel by bus. There are two significant bus companies in Morocco, Supratours and CTM. You can take a bus from Marrakech to Ouarzazate which is a city close to Ait Ben Hadoou. The bus ride charges you around 95 MAD, and it takes around 4.5 hours. So, you have to ask the bus driver to drop you off at the road that leads to Ait Ben Haddou. However, when travelling on buses, you will not have the chance to stop in the Tizi n’Tichka for some panoramic views. But this is a good choice if you look for a good price.
Finally, you can go on a group tour to Ait Ben Haddou from Marrakech. Daily trips and multi-day tours are available to Merzouga and Zagora desert. Here, you can choose from a broad variety of tours at GetYourGuide
Where to sleep in Ait Ben Haddou?
In Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, there are accommodations where you can spend your night. You can check and use these local recommended accommodations below. They offer traditional Berber decorations with an outdoor pool, a terrace with views of the mountains and a palm grove. Check these accommodations:
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