Morocco with its fascinating history and architecture is home to the old city of AïtBenhaddou located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains in the Province of Ouarzazate. The site of Ait-Ben-Haddou is the most famous Ksar of South Morroco’s Ounila Valley. As a popular and top-rated tourist attraction of Morocco, visiting the fortified Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou should be one of the top items on your Morocco travel list. Here's the HalalTrip guide for AitBenhaddou In Morocco.
The Ancient Ait-Ben-Haddou is a magnificent architectural feat and a great example of pisé clay architecture of South Morocco. The Ksar consists of a group of buildings – from houses to public structures, such as a mosque, a caravanserai, a sanctuary of a local saint, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, two cemeteriesand a public square–which are built entirely of local organic material, and covered by a rich red mud plaster. Inside the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou you will come across a labyrinth like series of sandstone colored towers and walls, which were used to fortify the outer walls of this ancient walled city of AïtBenhaddou.
AïtBenhaddou lies along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Therefore, it was likely a popular place for traders to rest along the Trans-Saharan Trade Route, especially due to the fortified Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, which they would have considered as safe from robbers and pillagers. However, the oldest building found in Ait-Ben-Haddou does not appear to be built earlier than the 17th century, although the decline of the Trans-Saharan trade began by the 16th century where fortified cities like the AïtBenhaddoubegan to lose their importance. It is therefore considered to have also been a center of local power in that time period, thus resulting in its slower decline than in other parts of the region.
There is also an interesting local belief that the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddouwas founded in 757 A.D. by Ben-Haddou, whose tomb is said to lie somewhere behind the city. However, although the building techniques used in the construction of the fortified Ksar of AïtBenhaddou can be traced to a very early period in the valleys of Southern Morocco, the buildings themselves appear to be built only in the 17th century.
The area of Ouarzazate in Morocco first came into the spotlight when the famed Hollywood blockbuster film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was filmed in the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou. Since then, so many of Ouarzazate’s sites have been used as movie-shoot locations that it has become Morocco’s noted film-making location and biggest studio.
While the majority of the Kasbahs in the Ouarzazate in Morocco have turned into relics, the AïtBenhaddou has been well preserved and kept in good condition in order to encourage more tourists to the south of the country. The only parts not well preserved are the badly damaged mud houses (Ksours) which are currently being restored.
The historical and cultural significance of the ancient Ksar of AïtBenhaddou have today gained AïtBenhaddou the status of a UNESCO world heritage site.
Today, AïtBenhaddou village is divided in two parts - the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou which stands mostly abandoned, and the modern occupiedpart which is filled with tourist shops and parking spaces. The two parts stand on either side of the river, which can be crossed on foot during the summer. It is said that there are eight families that still live in the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou.
Ait Ben Haddou Entrance Fee: - Travelers can enter the village through the main entrance, where 10 Dirhams per person is charged as a donation towards the restoration of the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou. There are also other entrances that can be used, but the locals may charge tourists more to use these entrances. Just check and make sure you do not get into unwanted situations.
What to See: The village of AïtBenhaddou is quite spectacular during the evening hours and more so during the sunset when the light and colors make the AïtBenhaddou glow. The most popular things to see are the Kasbahs within the village, the palm trees, the decorative motifs, the small streets filled with donkeys, or some storks making a home on top of a mud house. Climbing atop of one of the neighboring hills surrounding the village will give the Muslim traveler a fabulous overall picture of AïtBenhaddou and its surrounding area.
Accommodation: There are a few luxury hotels as well as several budget guest houses in AïtBenhaddou. April is the peak season for tourists, hence prices are at its highest, so make your reservation in advance.
Halal Food and Facilities: All the hotels offer the standard lunch menu of Moroccan salad, tajine and melon. The hotel Le Kasbah, is usually packed with travelers because the view of the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou from the terrace of this hotel is one of the best in the town. There is no shortage of halal food, and Muslim travelers will not have trouble finding good food and Muslim-friendly facilities.
Therefore, a visit to Morocco should include the region Ouarzazate and the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou as one of the stops for Muslim travelers. Not only will you get a magnificent look at an ancient walled city but, you can have some fun identifying locations used in famous Hollywood movies!
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