Aït-ben-Haddou (or Aït Benhaddou) is a small Moroccan town located in the province of Ouarzazate, 190 km from Marrakech.
It is a city with the traditional architecture of southern Morocco which is located on the edge of the High Atlas mountains. It consists of a set of mud brick buildings, and contrary to what one can sometimes read or hear, it is not a Kasbah, but a Ksar (fortified village). It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List .
The village of Aït-ben-Haddou is especially famous for having been used as a setting in many films, most of the time to replace Jerusalem. He appeared in a dozen films, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator or even Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
What to see in Aït-ben-Haddou?
As a whole , the city already deserves to be admired at length. The sunlight on the fortified village offers superb colors, it is a feast for the eye. The ksar is built on the sides of a hill, which makes the spectacle even more beautiful. Inside, it feels like visiting an open-air museum! Entrance to the fortress is free so refuse people who want to charge you something to pass through their house.
The collective granary ( agadir ) at the top of the hill is impressive and worth the climb up there. Just watch out for little “entrepreneurs” who want to help you get upstairs in the attic. They wait until you have your back turned to remove the small makeshift staircase that allowed you to go up, and “demand” a bribe in return to allow you to go down again…
Do not miss the mausoleum of Ben-Haddou which is at the foot of the hill on the other side of the city.
Before arriving, but also once at the top of the village, enjoy the incredible views of the region.
How to get to Aït-Ben-Haddou from Marrakech?
The ksar of Aït-ben-Haddou is 33 km north of Ouarzazate and 190 km south of Marrakech. Contrary to what is indicated on the map below, it does not take 2h30 to drive from Marrakech but rather 4h to drive . It all depends on which bus you take or, if you rent a car, how fast you drive.
Buses do not go directly to Aït Benhaddou, but can drop you off at the junction (between the N9 and the P1506) about 7 km from your destination. At this location, you will normally find several taxis waiting. A seat will cost you around 10 dirhams or €0.90. The whole taxi costs 60 dirhams or 5.30€.
If you are driving, you must take the national road 9 from Marrakech, and therefore turn at the junction with the P1506 road.
If you want to get there in a single day from Marrakech, know that it is best to do so with a specialized agency. Also be aware that you will spend almost 8 hours round trip in transport, which can be really tiring. It is advisable to sleep there if you want to take your time.