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AIT BEN HADDOU: Moroccan film village

Ait Ben Haddou, a village at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, is located in the southeast of Morocco and its eastern old part has been under UNESCO protection since 1987.

Photo: Bojan Vrbnjak

Morocco it offers tourists not only wonderful nature, history, friendly people in of the modern world, all imbued with beautiful colors, but this country can also boast of natural and historical backdrop for many famous films.

Ait Ben Haddou it consists of a new and an old part. It is located about 200 kilometers southeast of Marrakech and about 30 miles northwest of the city Ouarzazate on around 1.300 meters above sea level By the river Asif Mellah, which has water only in winter and spring. In the valley Ounila can be along the river bank Asif Mellah they grow webbed with dates, which, however, do not bear as much fruit due to the altitude.

Early morning, before crossing the river to the old part of Ait Ben Haddou, although a new bridge is built a few hundred meters lower, but many say to themselves: to the historic city in a historic way.

The history of this picturesque town

The place was the capital of the Ben Haddou clan, which is at Asif Mellahu controlled trade on the old caravan routes with Timbuktu in Marrakech during Almoravids in the 11th century. For the most part ksarja, as the fortified settlement is called, is made of brick with mud, air - dried, according to the literature, is said to have formed between 12th to 16th centuries. Even with the number of townspeople who were once supposed to live in To Ait Ben Haddou, varies, it is estimated that there were about 1.000.

Most of the buildings of this ksar, the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou, are built of air-dried mud bricks.
View from the old part of Ait ben Haddou to the new part which is on the other side of the river.

The architecture of this Moroccan pearl

The old village consists of more tightly built and in part nested residential buildingswhich are called Tighremts. Their mud walls rest on natural scale and have a base zone for larger or smaller boulders. Buildings with their own corner towers they give the place a fortified appearance, which the slope on which it is located only magnifies. Most of the corner towers were decorated with geometric motifs in the upper area, being repetitive diamond motifs they can be interpreted as abstract eyes and were originally had apotropaic function (repelling evil).

The interior of the historic village, where more and more tourists are looking at the place where shots of many films were shot.
The locals like to show tourists in front of their shops which films have been made here and in this way try to get some euros or dollars more from foreigners.

The original buildings that were almost no windows, are built around inner courtyards, through which light and air could enter stables and pantries on the ground floor and living rooms ter bedrooms on the upper floors. Surprisingly, yes no minaret does not exceed the old ksar. For the most part Berber villages in the south Maroka they had simple prayer rooms, making them out of big cities like Marrakech, Taroudant in tiznit, gave up the construction of minarets until the 20th century. At the top of the ksar Ait Ben Haddou is located kasbah or agadir, where they stored grain.

Ait Ben Haddou interesting for the entertainment industry

When we remember some famous movies from the past (and also the present), probably everyone would say in one voice that this or that film was made in Hollywood studios or in a convenient location elsewhere. But when inside the village, at souvenir shop, you see a poster showing them movie advertising posters, you are overwhelmed by the feeling that you are in a very important place. And that’s largely the reason why he flocks to this place more and more tourists. At the beginning of the new millennium because of the film Gladiator from Ridley Scott, and more recently also due to some parts of the famous series Game of Thrones (Due to this series, Croatian Dubrovnik is also besieged).

One of two studios (CLA) in town Ouarzazate, where a huge number of film shots of well-known foreign productions are shot.
The second film studio in town Ouarzazate is an Atlas that is better known and Hollywood dignitaries often come here to shoot a scene of their film.

Based on this floods of tourists and interest from the entertainment industry, we may wonder how long the old part will be Ait Ben Haddou even inhabited. For the movie Jesus of Nazareth most of Ksar Ait Ben Haddou was emptied and restored in the late 70s. Also between 2000 and 2015, extensive renovation measures were carried out, where the once existing walls were restored.

Ait Ben Haddou shows up on the big screen

As said in this village from mud bricks shot scenes and footage of quite a few very famous films. In a town 30 km away Ouarzazate (Moroccan Hollywood) there are two huge studios namely CLA ter ATLAS, where models of footage for the film are placed on huge terrains, and in this city you can also meet some famous a Hollywood actor. Usually, however, with these two studios, for needs historic city, also connects the city Ait Ben Haddou.

You can also stay in Ait Ben Hadou for a day or so and enjoy the view of this historic village from the hotel pool.

Let's just list the most important and famous films, which were filmed at both locations. You’ll be amazed that a movie was made here as well A jewel from the Nile, not v Egypt. Also Cleopatra was filmed here.

Famous films shot in Ait Ben Haddou:

Sodom and Gomorrah (1963)

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Marco Polo (1982)

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

Legionnaire (1998)

Mummy (1999)

Gladiator (2000)

Aleksander (2004)

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Prince of Persia (2010)

Some parts of the Game of Thrones series

If you are going to Morocco, then don’t forget about Ait Ben Haddou

That is why mine is valid warm recommendationthat if v Morocco eliminate individually, this ksarja or villages under the mountains Atlas you must not miss. They usually have travel agencies in their travels this place included, but of course it depends on length and itinerary. Some people like it better coastal part and therefore go the furthest inland to Marrakech, but they don’t know what they’re missing.

Without Ait Ben Haddou, the journey through Morocco is missing a very important and wonderful part.

All photos: @bvrbnjakphoto - Bojan Vrbnjak

The trip was made with: Oskar Travel Agency - Travel for you who want something more.

Some photographic snapshots of Ait Ben Haddour

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