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Ouarzazate, often referred to as the door to the desert, is a city in south-central Morocco, located at the crossroads of the Draa, Dades, and Ziz valleys on the eastern edge of the High Atlas Mountains. Its name is believed to come from a Berber phrase meaning “without noise” or “without confusion”. This city is renowned for its proximity to the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, making it a popular base for tourists exploring Morocco’s vast landscapes.

Ouarzazate has gained international fame as a filming location, thanks to its dramatic scenery, clear skies, and unique light. It is home to Atlas Studios, one of the largest movie studios in the world, where parts of many Hollywood blockbusters and famous TV shows have been filmed, including “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Gladiator”, “Game of Thrones”, and “The Mummy”. This has earned the city the nickname “Ouallywood”, a play on words combining Ouarzazate and Hollywood.

Aside from its cinematic allure, Ouarzazate is steeped in history and culture. The Taourirt Kasbah, located in the city, is one of its main attractions. This former Glaoui palace, with its warren of rooms, intricate brickwork, and towering walls, offers insight into the region’s history and the lavish lifestyle of its former rulers. Though partially restored, much of the Kasbah has been left in its original state, providing an authentic glimpse into Morocco’s past.

Ouarzazate is also a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou, located just a short drive away. This ancient ksar (fortified village) is a stunning example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been used as a backdrop for numerous films.

In recent years, Ouarzazate has also become known for its efforts in renewable energy. The Noor Complex solar power plant, situated in the outskirts of the city, is one of the world’s largest solar power projects, underscoring Morocco’s commitment to renewable energy sources.

For travelers, Ouarzazate offers a mix of natural beauty, historical depth, and modern relevance. Whether you’re interested in exploring the kasbahs, venturing into the Sahara, tracing the footsteps of movie stars, or simply enjoying the serenity of this quiet city, Ouarzazate has something to offer for everyone.

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