Ait Benhaddou or Ait Ben Haddou is a little charming town hidden between Ouarzazate and Marrakesh. In 1987, it has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage for its Ksar type of construction that has been a landmark for the Maghreb region.
The entire city of Ait Benhaddou is strategically built against the Atlas Mountain and has angle-like towers and steep walls. Getting to Ait-Benhaddou can be a challenging journey. The closest town is Ouarzazate and it’s better to get a taxi from there as there is no direct bus going into Ait Benhaddou. The nearest bus station is 7 km away and if you get to that point you will either have to hike or pick up a ride. Traveling there is part of a great experience as the road is winding in the foot of the Atlas Mountains revealing picturesque landscape ideal for photo lovers.
Entering the Ksar of Ait-Benhaddou is another charmer. You can either use the new bridge or try to cross the river by walking on the step stones. If you are visiting in the summer, the region gets so hot that often the Ounila River is completely dry. Once inside, you can begin a true walking and climbing experience marveling the scenery.
It is no surprise that the beautiful settings and surroundings have drawn the attention of Hollywood. Many places are still bearing the marks of memorable film-making and this has been drawing tourist for over decades. The Ksars of Ait Benhaddou offer some of the most exuberant decors for several movie genres.
Hollywood has been filming in Ait Benhaddou as early as in the 1960s. Scenes from the following movies were shot here:
• Sodom and Gomorrah (1963)
• The Man Who Would be King (1975)
• The Message ( 1976)
• Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
• Time Bandits (1981)
• Marco Polo (1982)
• The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
• The Living Daylights (1987)
• The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
• The Sheltering Sky (1990)
• Kundun (1997)
• The Mummy (1999)
• Gladiator (2000)
• Alexander (2004)
• Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
• Babel (2006)
• Prince of Persia (2010)
• Game of Thrones- parts of the TV series
There were some reconstructions involved when shooting some of these Hollywood productions which can be seen even today. Although the Ksars of Ait Benhaddou are scarcely inhibited, the city is well kept thanks to the influence of the Western cinematography of the region and the never ending desire of Hollywood to use authentic backdrops for some of its greatest movies.