Ksar Ait Ben Haddou

The Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is a UNESCO world heritage site accessible in a day trip from our Marrakech Riad hotels.

A prime example of a complete fortified village of traditional Berber earth construction comprising a look out tower, a mosque, a granary, a public square, a Fondouk (or caravanserai to accommodate passing merchants), and a variety of dwellings including Kasbahs and more modest houses. collectively known as a Ksar.  Communities of this type and construction date back to pre islamic times and were to be found across Southern Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya

The name of this particular settlement is derived from the tribal group of the inhabitants (Ait) and their family name (Ben Haddou) in arabic ‘ben’ means son or sons, indicating the Ksar was originally constructed by the sons of a leader called Haddou.

Ait Ben Haddu sits in a commanding position on a mountain side in the Southern Atlas. It has frequently been used to shoot movies perhaps partly because of its proximity to the town of Ourzazate home to several film studios.  Credits include Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) , Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Time bandits (1981), The Jewel of the Nile (1987), Gladiator (2000) for which a huge amphitheatre was constructed, Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and most recently Prince of Persia (2010).

The Ksar Ait Ben Haddou had almost been abandoned in favour of a new village on the other side of the river but an enlightened UNESCO investment in installing running water and a sewerage system (both completed in the last four years) has reversed the decline so that today ten houses are inhabited again.  There is still no mains electricity within the Ksar.

The staff at your Riad in Marrakech will be delighted to arrange your excursion to Ait Ben Haddou which we suggest you combine with a visit to the nearby historic Kasbah at Telouet.

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