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The fortified Moroccan town or ksar of Aït Benhaddou is located on the old caravan route between the mighty Sahara desert and the capital Marrakesh, around 35 km from Ouarzazate. Although not many of the original inhabitants still live there, favouring the modern town opposite, there are still some families which reside within its towering walls. It’s an exceptional example of a clay brick and mud architecture typical of southern Moroccan and is quite rightly a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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This is probably one of the most intriguing places I’ve visited on my travels. Honestly, it’s like stepping into a film set and that’s exactly what it’s been used for. Lawrence of Arabia, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jesus of Nazarethwas, Gladiator and more recently, the Game of Thrones were all filmed here.

Wandering through the narrow streets it’s hard to get away from the mass of tourists and shops, but quiet pockets of the town can be found. Climb to the highest point for spectacular views over the town and the surrounding desert. Although it’s not an authentic slice of typical ksar life, it’s most certainly worth a visit.

Getting there

Although buses run from both Marrakesh and Ouarzazate, it’s best to hire a private taxu which is quicker and inexpensive. Bear in mind that the journey from Marrakesh is long so although a day trip is possible it’s best to stay in the town of Ouarzazate for the night.

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