Ait Ben Haddou
The Ait Ben-Haddou is one of the most famous Ksars in Morocco.
A Ksar has no similar meaning within English architecture but a castle is possibly the most similar. Within Morocco the term can be used to describe a palace but Ksar usually applies to a set of buildings contained within a single wall surrounding the buildings: a fortified village. All the essential components from Mosques, shops and granary are usually included and can house a single family or multiple families.
The Ksar Ait Ben-Haddou is possibly the most famous in Morocco. It is thought to have been founded in the 8th century by Ben-Haddou but as the walls are made of baked earth the walls have been replaced over time. It is thought that the oldest section dates back to the 17th century. However, all restorations and changes are faithful to the original construction and it is a magnificent example of how life in Morocco must have been in early times.
The Ksar is located on the "other" side of the Atlas mountains and used to be on one of the many trading posts that linked ancient Sudan to Marrakesh through the Dra Valley and the Tizi-n'Telouet Pass.
This particular Ksar contains many fine dwellings, a mosque, a public square, granary, caravanserai, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer. The site was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987 and is fiercely monitored by the Centre for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of the Architectural Heritage of Atlas and Sub-Atlas Zones who ensure that only earth and wood are used within the Ksar's continuous maintenance. According to UNESCO they are also keen to ensure the windows are retained and not replaced by alternative materials.
The setting is stunning and drinking coffee on the terrace of the Ksar guesthouse looking across the land is a memory that we will not forget. The Ksar is well worth the trip from Marrakech and takes about 2.5 hours by car. For guests with more time to spare we can help you with transport to the Ksar and accommodation within the Ksar to give you a memorable overnight experience.
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