Aït-Benhaddou is a traditional mud brick city in Morocco on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. The City is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been featured in many films, mostly as as stand-in for Jerusalem. It has appeared in more than 10 films, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator
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Aït Benhaddou is a historic fortified city along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987
History of Aït-Benhaddou
The site of the ksar has been fortified since the 11th century during the Almoravid period. None of the current buildings are believed to date from before the 17th century, but they were likely built with the same construction methods and designs as had been used for centuries before. The site's strategic importance was due to its location in the Ounila Valley along one of the main trans-Saharan trade routes. The Tizi n'Tichka pass, which was reached via this route, was one of the few routes across the Atlas Mountains, crossing between Marrakech and the Dra'a Valley on the edge of the Sahara. Other kasbahs and ksour were located all along this route, such as the nearby Tamdaght to the north.
Description of the ksar
The ksar is located on the slopes of a hill next to the Ounila River (Asif Ounila). The village's buildings are grouped together within a defensive wall that includes corner towers and a gate They include dwellings of various size ranging from modest houses to tall structures with towers. Some of the buildings are decorated in their upper parts with geometric motifs. The village also has a number of public or community buildings such as a mosque, a caravanserai, a kasbah (castle-like fortification) and the Marabout of Sidi Ali or Amer. At the top of the hill, overlooking the ksar, are the remains of a large fortified granary (agadir).
Once inside the Ksar you can only walk or climb. There are two main entrances into the Ksar. One can be reached by new bridge. To reach the second, it is necessary to cross the river using the stepping stones.
The town itself is the main attraction, with mud buildings climbing up the side of the hill.
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