Ait Benhaddou: The fortified city and Hollywood of Morocco

On our way to the Sahara desert we stopped off at Morocco’s well known High Atlas Mountain Hollywood territory, the Red Citadel of Morocco, Citadel of Ait Benhaddou in the town of Ouarzazate.

Caravans of camels used to used to stop here whilst heading to Marrakech from the Sahara.

It’s also a very popular stand alone excursion – it’s a real dwelling place, a bonafide ancient fort; it wasn’t created as a film set, despite looking like one.

An African Walk of Fame

Some of the many films made on this North African set include:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Asterix
  • Jesus of Nazareth
  • Lawrence of Arabia and
  • Gladiator
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
  • The Mummy
  • Time Bandits

The Hills Have Eyes was also filmed in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains – a true story apparently!!!

Citadel of Ait Benhaddou is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and the region used to be a regular caravan route for traders, between the Sahara and Marrakech.

The Ait Benhaddou Experience

Visiting Ait Benhaddou was like travelling back in time, I started to imagine scenes of Mary and Joseph with a donkey in tow, looking for room at the inn as we worked our way through a labyrinth of narrow clay passages with little wooden doors and stone surroundings.

As you can probably tell, much of the walk is steep and sometimes uneven. There are no lifts or anything modern like that so be warned and leave your high heels at home!

Although most of the clay buildings and the maze-like streets you see today are from the 17th century, a small number of families still live in this fortified village – it isn’t just a tourist attraction and film set!
A steep and rocky climb at times
There’s never any shortage of rugs for sale in Morocco
Moroccan attire
Clay and straw
The Berber flag with the letter ‘Z’ in red
O Little Town of Bethlehem?
Beautiful colour contrast against the bright blue sky, very insta’ worthy!!
Still not sure what these formations were for, or why there were so many of them all over the Atlas Mountains……
At the top of the steep climb
Local artist with artwork for sale
The bridge we crossed as we entered….
The bridge we crossed to exit
Also in the region
A splash of purple
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