Back in time, Ouarzazate was a small crossing point for African traders on their way to northern Morocco and Europe. During the French/Spanish protectorate era, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town.
Ouarzazate is considered to be one of the main tourist destinations in Morocco as well as a starting point for excursions into and across the Draa Valley and Sahara Desert. It is a city nestled south of High Atlas Mountains, known as the African Hollywood city and a gateway to the Desert. The Hollywood city of Morocco is the capital of innumerable adobe kasbahs, arid mountains, green valleys and oases, palm groves as well as red or ochre earth…all these criteria combine altogether to make the unique charm of this region and give its tourist appeal. Furthermore, this gave Ouarzazate the privilege to be chosen location for Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international companies to work here. Films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Living Daylights, The Mummy, Gladiator, Kundun and others…were all filmed in the studios of Ouarzazate and its surroundings.
Whether you are traveling with family, couple, a solo traveler, backpacker or on honeymoon trip… Ouarzazate must be on your bucket-list as it provides you with so many interesting attractions to discover and explore while you travel around Ouarzazate.
Here is a sample of what you can do and see in Ouarzazate:
The most important attraction which definitely will attract you in Ouarzazate is the impressive Kasbah of Taourirt. It is a historic fortified residence complex with nearly 300 rooms and 20 riads, built around a courtyard in the centre. This castle was firstly built in the 17th century by the Imzwarn which was a powerful local family in its time, according to oral traditions. in the 19th century, with the help of French regime, the kasbah was taken over and expanded by the Glaoui family who was the ruler of Marrakech at that time. At the height of its importance in the late 19th century, the kasbah controlled an important location at the confluence Draa and Dades valleys. Up to nowadays, this iconic landmark is still very well preserved with several restored areas.
The company was founded in 1983 by Mohamed Belghmi. Since then, it has been able to expand, thanks to reliable climate and weather conditions, and because the area is of a nature that can mimic the natural environments of many countries well. The site is located 3km west side of Ouarzazate, and was the set for many global film productions. Many sets from the filming of various movies remain in place and, because of this, the studio also operates with guided tours and has become a popular tourist destination. Not far from Atlas Studios is CLA studios are worth visiting, because here some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed.
As Ouarzazate has so many things to offer to its visitors, Cinema Museum is another interesting sight during your visit to Ouarzazate. It is located right in the opposite side of the beautiful Kasbah of Taourirt, so a visit to these two attractions can be easily combined. Decorations, Costumes, film equipment and other stuff from previous film productions are exhibited here.
Amridil Kasbah in Skoura:
Another beautiful piece of art to visit is Amridil Kasbah which is located 40 km away in the beautiful oasis of Skoura. According to myths and oral traditions, this kasbah was originally founded in the 17th century by Nasiri family. It initially consisted of a fortified village, occupying a strategic location along the river and at the entrance to the Skoura oasis. Today the kasbah is the most prominent structure and takes up the long southern part of the complex, while the ruined ksar (the former village) occupies the northern section. The kasbah made an appearance in the 1962 film of Laurance of Arabia. Up to now, the site is still owned and maintained by the same Nasiri clan. The family continues to live in one part of the kasbah while other parts have been restored to serve as a museum showcasing the traditional architecture of the building and local traditional artifacts, including tools, an olive press, a bread oven, and an old well.
Kasbah Ait Benhadou: UNESCO World Heritage:
Aït Benhaddou kasbah is a historic ighrem or ksar along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
This historical site is the main attraction around Ouarzazate. It is located in the foothills on the southern slopes of High Atlas Mountains. Kasbah Ait Benhadou is mainly a collective grouping of dwellings inside defensive walls reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together… In addition, the kasbah is an eminent example of ksar illustrating the main types of earthen constructions that may be observed dating from the 17th century. The site held the events of so many movies, and that gave it a high advantage to be globally known.