Ait Ben Haddou - Ksar - Kasbah

Ait Ben Haddou - Ksar - Kasbah



Aït Benhaddou (in Berber: ⴰⵢⵜ ⵃⴰⴷⴷⵓ; in Arabic: آيت بن حدّو‎‎) is an ighrem (in Englissh it means a fortified village) (called ksar in Arabic), along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in Morocco. 
There are different versions about the history of Ait Ben Haddou, but they all agree that this place exists since the 13th centuary. It has been expanded and rebuilt throughout history several times, especially in the 17th centuary.. At first it was a stop of Caravanes coming from "Timbuktu" in the south of the great Sahara. Then it became a place where merchants used to meet and exchange their products. 

The name "Ait Ben Haddou" comes from the first family that had a Kasbah in the place (a Kasbah is a fortified big house that belongs to one big family), usually wealthy powerful families live in Kasbahs surrounded by a wall with a surveilliance tower at each corner, to prevent attacks from the enemies.. and Ait Ben Haddou (or the family of the sons of Haddou) was the first family to live on the hill before other families and tribes that are allies started building their houses and kasbahs there.
There used to be about a hundred families in the village but once life became safer they all moved to the other side of the river because it is close to the main road (the village used to be totally isolated when it rains and the level of water in the river is high. and also to get access to running water and electricity.. 
Currently there are only about four or five families that are still living in Ait ben Haddou, the rest of buildings  is just ruins or shops and cafes for the tourists, even if there are bridges now and the village have access to water and elecricity.

Ait Ben Haddou now is an important tourist attraction in the south east of Morocco, it is a major stop in all the desert tours starting from Marrakech to Merzouga in the Sahara Desert, or starting from Fes or any other place and ending in Marrakech.
There re also few camels there for people that are into Camel Trekking.
Most citizens attracted by the tourist trade live in more modern dwellings in a village on the other side of the river, although there are four families still living in the ancient village. Inside the walls of the ksar are half a dozen (Kasbahs) or merchants houses and other individual dwellings, and is a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture.

Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/444

Several films have been shot there, including:

Sodom And Gomorrah (1963)
Oedipus Rex (1967)
The Man Who Would Be King (film) (1975)
The Message (1976)
Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
Time Bandits (1981)
Marco Polo (1982)
The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Kundun (1997)
The Mummy (1999)
Gladiator (2000)
Alexander (2004)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Babel (2006)
One Night with the King (2006)
Prince of Persia (2010)
Son of God (film) (2014)

Also used in parts of the TV series Game of Thrones.

 
Contact informations: Hyper Morocco Tours

Smail Jarrou
Quartier Elmhamid 9
Marrakech 50000 Morocco
Email 1: contact@hypermoroccotours.com
Email 2: hypermoroccotours@gmail.com
Tel / Whatsapp: +212 6 17 17 57 30