Growing up in Morocco, the desert has always been my favorite place to visit. The beauty of the arid landscapes always gets me. And although there are many places I love to visit in the Moroccan desert, Ksar Ait Benhaddou is probably my favorite desert spot.
Ksar Aitbenhaddou, also called Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, is a group of historic clay buildings located in Ait Benhaddou Oasis, thirty kilometers from the center of Ouarzazate.
Ksar Ait Benhaddou is a cherished destination for nature and history lovers. Built ten centuries ago, it is surrounded by an outstanding nature of palmiers, mountains, and rivers.
Seeing it standing in the middle of the arid desert, green and abundant is a treat to the eyes. The dry and minimalistic surroundings make this dreamy village stand out beautifully. If you’ve never been to Ksar Ait Benhaddou, you’re up to a dreamy adventure.
Facts about Ait Benhaddou
Ksar Ait Benhaddou is around 1,300 square meters. Made of red clay bricks, it has many long and narrow alleys tangling up in a unique geometric shape.
According to historians, the construction of the Ksar on a hill near a river was a strategic choice. First, it was for security reasons as the river and surrounding mountains created a natural fortress around the oasis. Entering and leaving the palace was possible only through two gates. Second, the closeness to the river was of good benefit for agriculture and economic influence.
Some historical sources point out that about 98 families lived in the Ksar until the 1940s. Nowadays, only five families live in Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. One of the families turned her house into a traditional coffee shop immersing visitors in natives’ lifestyles.
In 1987, the UNESCO designated Ait Benhaddou Ksar as a world heritage.
Ksar Ait Benhaddou Attractions
Besides the sensational landscapes, Ksar Ait Benhaddou has several facilities still in place.
In addition to the ancient mosque and the Koranic school, the Ksar also houses the “collective arena” where the current inhabitants meet during family and religious events. There are also two cemeteries, one Muslim and the other Jewish. At the top of the plateau is the “collective store” used to store grain.
You can also find a few artisanal shops selling rugs, jewelry, and other Moroccan handicrafts.
A few accommodations are available nearby Ksar Ait Benhaddou. Another option is to stay in Ouarzazate and drive to Ait Benhaddou. I personally prefer that option as there is so much more to do in Ouarzazate with the Museums, international film studios, and shopping in the medina.
Tip: If you are visiting Morocco, check my Morocco Shopping Guide where I go through Morocco markets’ rules and dynamics. This guide is so helpful when shopping for handicrafts and souvenirs in Morocco.
How do I get from Ouarzazate to Ait Benhaddou?
In my experience, Moroccan grand taxis are the best way to go from Ouarzazate to Ait Benhaddou and back. Your host in Ouarzazate can give you the best advice on the neared place to catch a grand taxi.
In Morocco, taxi passengers share the total cost of the convoy. You can have a taxi for yourself if you want privacy, or you can ask the taxi driver to share the drive with other passengers going to the same destination.
The drive from Ouarzazate to Ait Benhaddou is 30 minutes and costs a few hundred dirhams total. As the visit of the Ksar takes usually a couple of hours, the taxi driver can wait for you via a small arrangement/tip.
Ait Benhaddou in Films and Movies
The beautiful Ksar Aitbenhaddou has been the décor for many famous films and tv series. Game of Thrones, Laurence of Arabia, Gladiator and so many other big blockbusters were filmed in the Ksar and in the area.
I’ve been to Ait Ben Haddou a couple of days ago and It was the dreamiest place I’ve been. thank you
Response from Moroccanzest
Glad you enjoyed your stay, maria -xxx