Fez Fancy Tours

Kasbat ait Benhadou

Ksar Ait Benhaddou is a striking example of Southern Moroccan architecture, located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas in the Province of Ouarzazate. This fortified village, or ksar, is a complex of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls, a traditional pre-Saharan habitat. The houses crowd together within the defensive walls, which are reinforced by corner towers. Ait Benhaddou is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques and is an iconic location within Morocco, representing the intricate mud-brick architecture of the region.

The site dates back to the 17th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987, recognized for its outstanding example of southern Moroccan architecture. Ait Benhaddou sits along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco, and its historical importance is matched by its architectural significance.

The ksar is a remarkable sight, with its large fortified granaries (agadirs) at the top of the hill, and clusters of dwellings below, showing a way of life that has been unchanged for centuries. Despite the challenging desert conditions, the community has developed techniques for managing land and water that allow them to live in harmony with their environment.

Ait Benhaddou has gained international fame as a filming location for many major films and television series due to its well-preserved medieval city appearance. Films such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Gladiator,” and “Game of Thrones” have been shot here, contributing to its appeal as a tourist destination.

Despite the pressures of tourism and the modern world, efforts have been made to preserve the traditional clay architecture and the ksar’s unique cultural heritage. Ait Benhaddou continues to be a living community, with a handful of families still residing within the ksar, maintaining their traditional way of life, albeit adapted to the realities of the 21st century. The site is not only a symbol of Morocco’s rich history but also a testament to the ingenuity of its people in creating a sustainable living environment in a harsh landscape.

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