It may not come as a surprise ancient fortified castles aren’t really my thing, I am a huge believer of “when in Rome” so a many hour drive to the dessert was the only way we were going to reach the most famous Kasbah in Morocco. A kasbah, I learned on the long drive to Ait Ben Haddou is a word in Arabic which refers to a small citadel of structures behind a defensive wall meant to prevent them in case of attack. Of all of the kasbahs in Morocco, you can see why the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou nestled into the Atlas Mountains where the 17th century clay structures are still quite intact – likely the reason it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In modern days, it indefinitely quite out of the way – with the closest town of Ourzazate 25 miles away but I learned during our hike to the top of the Kasbah that it used to be on the main caravan route between Marrakesh and the Sahara Dessert which makes more sense. Speaking of hike, I was told we were visiting a town which is why I wore a pretty maxi dress, not really the right clothes for this type of visit – which included a trek across a stream, a dusty climb, and a ladder – so don’t let the pictures fool you.
When we visited in early October the Ounila River, which separates the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou from the small city where most residents now live, was running low so we were able to cross it by simply walking across sand bags locals had placed in the flow. Once inside the gates we made our way through narrow alleys and passed crowded houses on our way to the top, surrounded by clay brick the whole time. And even though I am not a Game of Thrones fan, someone had shown me a few of the famous scenes that were filmed there so I made sure to get photos with them. As you scroll you may also recognise the backdrop from dozens of other movies, notably Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, Prince of Persia, and Kingdom of Heaven. Take a look:
Would you want to visit the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou?