Think of a place that can make you go back in time. I assure you that the Moroccan settlement of Ait Ben Haddou has this power. It was built in 757 to house only one family, but it grew by standing in the way of the caravans of merchants who went from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert and became a spectacular fortified village that remains firm and strong on top of a hill living unhurriedly. Residents are few today, less than 50 people live there, as in the old days, without electricity … but with a lot of history. The village was deservedly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It’s a must see!
Ait Ben Haddou is literally a movie setting. Remember the Gladiator scene when Russell Crowe was sold as a slave? It was recorded there. And that was not the only movie. Want to know some others? Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile, Jesus of Nazareth … This region of Morocco is famous for lending its scenery to the movie screens.
What to know how to get there? Park the car across the river from Ait Ben Haddou to where the locals have moved to live more comfortably. After crossing the bridge, look for some of the entrance gates. Pay the access ticket and climb the lawns carved like a maze to the top of the fortress to have an incredible view. Climb up slowly exploring the shops and talking to the people. Take a lot of pictures!
If you want to live a genuine Berber experience, know that it is possible to stay in a very simple place called Kasbah Tebi within the village. However, if you prefer a more upscale hotel in the region, choose the Kasbah Dar Ahlam, in the oasis of Skoura which lies 70 km ahead and it is a luxury.
Ait Ben Haddou is 200 kilometers from Marrakesh. A village that needs to be included in your itinerary on a trip to Morocco.
Did you like this village? I hope I have sparked curiosity and inspired you.
I wish you all a wonderful rest of the week.