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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Africa, Explore, Morocco, Travel Info

The Reason I came to Morocco: Ait Ben Haddou

The Reason I came to Morocco: Ait Ben Haddou

There are so many reasons to want to visit Morocco; the colours, the spices, the architecture. The list goes on and on. Morocco is an incredible destination. But for me, it was seeing a photo of Ait Ben Haddou that swayed my decision to book a ticket and make my dreams of visiting Morocco and reality. 


So what is Ait Ben Haddou? A castle? A Ruin? A city? In Moroccan they call it a Kasbah, which translate to fortified city. It was built as a trading post along a caravan route that ran across the Sahara. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and for good reason.


Why would I want to visit here? For me as a lover of ancient ruins and historical significance I was drawn to it. But it was more than its titles. It was its allure of colours. The deep reds used to build the walls contrasting magnificently with blues of the sky. Looking like a mirage emerging from the surrounding desert. This place has beauty; this place is enchanting.

This Kasbah is more famous than others; This one is special. It is the location of many films including The Gladiator, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven, Prince of Persia, The Mummy, and many more. With a production of movies of such magnitude you can expect they would bring money into the area. Each movie rebuilt different sections of Ait Ben Haddou. The entire fortified city has not been rebuilt but specific areas have been restored. For Jesus of Nazareth they built an “entrance gate” next to the Kasbah.

I dreamed of coming here and Ait Ben Haddou in reality only exemplified all my wonder. Walking into the Kasbah, wandering the streets and inside the buildings. The walls built of clay brick, you can see the straw sticking out. High up on the tops of the buildings are huge nests dominated by storks. Standing at the tip-top of Ait Ben Haddou looking down into the Kasbah, seeing the river zig-zag a path outside the protective walls of the city. Being here and knowing that I made my dreams come true – I was in a state of bliss.


I wish I could have stayed longer, explored every nook and cranny, but I was on a day-tour and I couldn’t follow my own schedule. The heat was beating so I took shelter inside a house. With pots, cups, and jugs, it was explained to us how the milk was kept cool, how the bread was cooked in traditional stone ovens, and how soup is cooked in a special pot.

From Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou it on route to Ouarzezate in the East. There is no convenient way to get here as an independent traveller. The buses are unreliable and won’t pick you up on the side of the road. So I took a day trip package for 250 Dh ($30). We stopped along the way for scenic photographs of Morocco’s incredible landscapes across the Atlas Mountains.

Ait Ben Haddou is the reason I came to Morocco.

Ait Ben Haddou is the place I’ll always Remember.



  1. Oh wow! Morocco’s been on my list for a while now, but I didn’t even know this place existed! I absolutely LOVE places like this! I looked at the photos thinking it was straight out of Prince of Persia … so cool to discover it was actually filmed here.

    • I also meant to ask, what camera are you using? Your photos are amazing!

      • Thank You! I actually use a point and shoot! Canon Power Shot ELPH 300 HS. I LOVE it. Its tiny, mine is red, and it captures colour the way I remember it – BRIGHT! 😀 I’d say the only disadvantage of it is it takes terrible night photos – but I go to bed for 10PM most nights so it doesn’t affect ME much! 😀

    • It IS like being a movie! But better because you Know this was here BEFORE movies! Such a beauty! YOu’ll just HAVE to see it when you come to Morocco!

  2. Great photos! Ait Ben Haddou was one of my favourite places in Morocco. If you ever go back there, I stayed in this hotel near there which was built in an old kasbah (Kabah Ellouze) and looked like a mini-Ait Ben Haddou, it was amazing all lit up at night.

    • Thanks for the advice! I WISH I had the time to return – I would make a little home in the KAsbah and live happily.

  3. We’ve just returned from a magical 15 days in Morocco and in looking up Moroccan designs online, I’ve come upon your fabulous website and travel journal. Your photos captured everything I have drooled over and desperately wanted to take home or try to reproduce in some small way at home. Your comments and thoughts on budget and people and opportunities were just as we found there this month, May 2014. The Riads are the most interesting homes and hotels we have ever experienced. (Yes, worth the extra costs for accommodation. Each is a museum in its own right.) Many thanks for helping me remember so many beautiful details and share with others the magic we found in Morocco. I’ve booked marked your site. I hope we can go again someday- Inshallah!