The Ksar Of Aït Benhaddou: Things To Know Before Your Visit

Are you planning to visit Morocco soon? It's one of the best destinations in the world, and you have many options, from exploring beautiful cities to hiking Mt Toubkal or camping in the Sahara Desert.
But one of the best things to do in Morocco is visit Aït Benhaddou: a historic ksar that's as mesmerising as it is steeped in history.

Aït Benhaddou History

Aït Benhaddou is a stunning old village in southeastern Morocco. It's a type of fortified village called a "ksar," and made up of "kasbahs" or fortified houses, which look a bit like small castles with their decorative designs and towers.
This village dates back to the 17th century and is surrounded by high defensive walls featuring angle towers and a baffle gate. Inside, its six fortresses are linked by narrow paths that wind up the hill, leading to grand multi-storey mud-built structures, or kasbahs. Atop the hill sits a large fortified granary, or Agadir which was, unfortunately, left in a state of ruins after the earthquake of 2023.
trekking atlas mountains toubkal
The Atlas Mountains should be on the list of all hiking enthusiasts.
Aït Benhaddou is located near the foot of the Atlas Mountains, about 30 km northwest of a town called Ouarzazate. It's perched on a hill beside the Ounila River and was a key stop for traders travelling between the Sahara and Marrakech. The ksar offered protection - a place for commerce and culture to flourish.
This historic village thrived despite facing challenges like harsh weather and invasions. Its architecture is a blend of Berber and Moroccan styles, with buildings made of adobe and clay that keep interiors cool in summer and warm in winter. The clay has a distinctive red colour that glows at sunrise and sunset. The wall designs often feature geometric patterns with deep cultural and religious significance.
Aït Benhaddou was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, celebrating its rich history and beautiful architecture made from mud and straw.
Although not many people live there now, it attracts tourists from all over the world who come to admire its beauty and learn about its past.
Ait Benhaddou
If you recognise Ait Benhaddou, it may be because it's made appearances in popular movies and TV shows!

Movies Filmed At Aït Benhaddou

Aït Benhaddou has been a popular location for several famous movies and TV shows. It's featured in "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Jewel of the Nile," "The Mummy," and "Gladiator." It also appeared in the hit series "Game of Thrones."
It's not just the ancient vibes and stunning architecture that make Aït Benhaddou a filmmaker's dream. The whole place has a timeless feel, making it perfect for stories set in distant lands and ancient times. Plus, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's got that authentic touch that's hard to replicate.
So, if you're a movie buff, you have an extra reason to enjoy visiting Aït Benhaddou.

What to Do in Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

You can begin your exploration by wandering through the narrow, winding alleys of Aït Benhaddou. Visit the art galleries like Galerie Tiwirga to admire local artworks, and purchase keepsakes and delicious food from the stalls and cafes.
If you're seeking adventure, climb to the top of the kasbah for breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and the Ounila River.
Morocco Highlights
Morocco's streets are filled with charming stalls to browse.
As the day winds down, you can find a serene spot to watch the sunset. The golden hour brings a magical glow to the earthen buildings, providing a scene that's perfect for reflection or photography.
You can find accommodations near the Ksar, including the Auberge Ayouze, a highly recommended hotel located just 3 km (1.9 mi) from the Ksar. For a more traditional stay, you can stay at the guesthouse of Kasbah El Hajja for a unique experience right inside Ksar Aït Benhaddou.
If you book a Morocco Highlights tour with Skyhook, you'll get to explore Aït Benhaddou alongside other amazing locations in Morocco and avoid the hassle of planning all the logistics yourself! This trip allows you to explore at your own pace, taking in the ancient kasbahs and stunning landscapes.
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During the summer, it is far more comfortable to do your exploring in the evenings or early mornings.

Best Time to Visit Aït Benhaddou

The area experiences a desert climate, meaning it can get quite hot during the day, especially in the summer months from June to August. During this time, temperatures can soar, so early morning or late evening visits are more comfortable. However, these months are also the peak tourist season, so expect more visitors.
For milder weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November. The temperatures during these months are more moderate, making it easier to explore the ksar and its surroundings.
Winter, from December to February, has the coolest temperatures, which can be a relief if you're not accustomed to the heat. However, nights can be quite cold, so packing layers is essential. This season also sees the least amount of tourist traffic.
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Remember to dress modestly - it signals respect for the local culture and keeps the harsh sun off your skin!

Final Thoughts

Aït Benhaddou is a must-visit if you're in Morocco. You get a feel of Morocco's rich history and stunning landscapes through exploring, admiring the architecture, or simply soaking in the panoramic views. There's something truly magical about this place.
Remember to keep some local currency handy for easier transactions, especially in smaller shops or taxis. Also, dress modestly out of respect for the culture; for women, think long sleeves and trousers or skirts that go past the knee, while men can opt for long trousers.
In addition, remember to remove your shoes before entering any buildings, a sign of respect for local customs. Greetings like "salaam" are courteous when you meet locals and try to seek permission before capturing photos.

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