Ait Ben Haddou

Movies filmed in Ait Ben Haddou, according to a local sign

Movies filmed in Ait Ben Haddou, according to a local sign

Near Ouarzazate, known within country as the Moroccan Hollywood, within the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, lies an old fortified city called Ait Ben Haddou. The name, roughly translated, means “the clan of the son of Haddou.”

Lying at the southern foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and being proximal to trade routes, including access to Marrakech just over the Tizi N’Tichka Pass, the village was an important stopping point for traders for many centuries. Nowadays, however, it is far from the beaten path and is mostly a tourist destination.

The older part of the city rests on the southern slope of a small hill, atop which used to be the town’s granary and fortified walls, “agadir,” for defense of the town. There are several larger homes, kasbahs, near the occasional river, but much of the town is made up of smaller dwellings. Because of its historical importance and relatively good condition, it was made a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1987. The newer part of the city, including shops, restaurants, and lodging, lies across the river and there is a footbridge connecting the two.

Some original families remain, but much of the space has been changed over in order to cater to tourism. There are many gift shops and a few artists plying their craft. The video below was sponsored by UNESCO. It provides a nice overview of its history.

My trip there was for a day long outing with other Peace Corps volunteers taking a break from our language training in Ouarzazate. I enjoyed the village, though its transformation from thriving community to tourist destination was disappointing, albeit predictable. The views of the surrounding landscapes are gorgeous as is the sight of the city itself. It’s certainly worth a trip to see.

Below are some photos I took of the trip.

  5 comments for “Ait Ben Haddou

  1. kathryn sellereit
    December 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Tom and Erika, thank you for continuing to blog and share photos when time permits. It’s rather awe inspiring when you see ancient history still in existence today. Eric and I are planning a trip to Israel as part of a tour in June. We will be doing some hiking which allows us to see more of the ancient ruins that other tourists don’t get to see. I’m sure that you both are grateful for the opportunity to experience Moroccan life.

    Kathy Sellereit

    • December 22, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Thanks Kathy. Israel sounds like a wonderful trip. I would love to visit there someday!

  2. December 22, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Hi Thoma and Erika. I’ve enjoyed checking out your blog- it’s really informative. My name is Michelle. My husband and I were among the PC Blog It Home contest winners a couple years ago. I’d like to invite you to a six-week Blog Challenge I’m hosting to help PCVs “level up” their Third Goal blogs in the New Year. This is “phase one” for an online project I’m working on with the aim of helping bloggers to promote cross-cultural understanding. I’d be honored if you would visit my new site, watch the video (or read the transcript if loading videos is a challenge), and sign up to join the adventure in blogging. Take care and happy blogging! Michelle

    • December 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Michelle. While I appreciate the offer, the blog is only an occasional pursuit. I have no interest in competitive blogging. I don’t want the pressure to produce content.

      • December 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm

        Hi Thomas. No worries! Although the Challenge is not actually a competition, I totally understand if you’re not interested in blogging as frequently.

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