Ksar of Ait Ben-Haddou – UNESCO World Heritage Site- Morocco

Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou has been a World Heritage Site since1987. This site has a very strong bond with Hollywood, it has appeared in more than 10 movies, mostly as a replacement for Jerusalem including ; Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), and Prince of Persia (2010).
Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou ( Aït Benhaddou ) is the preserved fortified city ( ksar ) in Morocco along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh and beyond in present-day Morocco, once served as a principal trading route across the Atlas Mountains. Today the trans-Saharan trade along this route was affected and has died. It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ounila River on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. The word ‘Ksar’ refers to a large group of kasbas (homes).
Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is an earthen communal housing compound punctuated by plain windows, built entirely of local organic materials, with a rich red mud plaster. Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is a traditional Mud Brick city to the Maghreb and reflect the architectural style of southern Morocco. They are located behind the fortified thick steep defensive walls and the corner angle towers of the city protecting the interior, in a strategic position in the Ounila Valley against a mountain. The walls and towers are often ornamented with decorative motifs. Due to the nature of these structures makes them extremely vulnerable to damage with each rainstorm and weathering.
It is believed that the town of Ait-Ben-Haddou was established in 757. The oldest structure here is not older than the 17th century, even though the building technique may have existed much longer. Its founder, Ben-Haddou, still lies buried in his tomb behind this spectacular city.

Most of the town’s original inhabitants of the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou now live in a more modern village across the river which is at least twice the size of the ancient Ksar. However only, ten families still live within the ksar.

The Ksar consists private houses, a public square, market place, a mosque, caravanserai, two cemeteries and a mausoleum (the Sanctuary of Saint Sidi Ali). Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is considered one of hte best preserved kasbahs of the entire Atlas region.


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