- Encounters with locals
- Castle and fortress
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
Situated in the middle of the desert in the Ourzazate region, Ait Benhaddou is a mind-blowing example of a historic medieval kasbah and of traditional desert architecture with its earth houses and high protective walls. The town seems to be completely sleeping or frozen in time and, other than some souvenir shops, it is difficult to believe that anyone still lives here. So it's not surprising that Hollywood used it as settings for many films like Lawrence of Arabia and even Gladiator.
I stopped there en route between Marrakech and the desert and I must state that the town represents an unmissable stop during a stay in Morocco. However, I wouldn't recommend spending more than a few hours there, the infrastructure being rather limited and the surroundings of little interest. Finally, the arrival of (too) many tourist coaches somewhat spoiled this magnificent historic town for me.
At the foot of the Aït Ben Haddou Kasbah, I had this sudden thought that it resembled an enormous sandcastle. This site, recognised by UNESCO, is a must-see place during a visit to Morocco. In fact, it's a traditional construction dating from the pre-Saharan era, in an excellent state of preservation. I have no doubt at all that the clay town will impress you, just as much as it impressed me.
As it's made from traditional materials from the region, the overall picture is really harmonious. To round off the visit, upon arrival, you're offered the opportunity to cross the river at the foot of the kasbah, but not in just any old way: on the back of a donkey! The residents of Aït Ben Haddou are waiting for you, dressed in their light blue tunics, the colour associated with the people of the desert and South Sahara.
Have a good visit!