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Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou im Atlasgebirge von Marokko, Bild: Ivan Soto Cobos / shutterstock

Ouarzazate – The Hollywood of Morocco

On the edge of the Sahara is the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, which suddenly appears out of nowhere in the middle of the desert. It is also the capital of the province of the same name. Ouarzazate gained fame above all through his film studios. The city is also known as Morocco’s Hollywood.

Ouarzazate – In the middle of a breathtaking desert landscape

Geographically, Ouarzazate is located between the High Atlas Mountains and the Anti Atlas. The film city is located at an altitude of 1,151 meters above sea level, about 200 kilometers from Marrakech .

Ouarzazate is often used as a popular stopover for round trips, desert tours and excursions.

Almost 80,000 inhabitants live in the provincial capital Ouarzazate. It was built by the French in 1928 to serve as a garrison town for the troops of the Foreign Legion. Initially an insignificant settlement, the city rose over the years to become an important transport hub in the south of Morocco . Ouarzazate was also able to benefit from tourism and is still a popular destination today.

How to get to Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate can be reached by plane via the airport, which is 2 kilometres to the north. Royal Air Maroc is the only airline to operate with Casablanca. From Marrakech and Agadir, Ouarzazate can also be reached by bus.

Otherwise, the desert city can be reached by car from Marrakech, 190 kilometers away, via the N9 road, which takes about four to five hours. A car ride is well worth it, as there are various sights to admire along the way.

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What are the attractions in Ouarzazate?

Kasbah Taourirt, Ouarzazate
Kasbah Taourirt, Image: Larisa Dmitrieva / shutterstock

Kasbah Taourirt

There are not too many sights in Ouarzazate, but they are quite interesting. The Kasbah Taourirt is considered particularly impressive. This is a residential castle made of rammed earth. It was created at the beginning of the 20th century. One third of the well-preserved Kasbah can be visited by the public. Guided tours can also be booked on site.

The Kasbah houses the palace of the tribal leader El Haouzi. Even today, the Kasbah is inhabited by members of the Haouza tribe. Very close to the Kasbah there is a market for handicrafts.

A visit to the Cinema Museum in Ouarzazate

Also among the city’s attractions is the Cinema Museum (Musée du Cinema), which is located in the center of the village opposite the Kasbah Taourirt and provides information about the film history of Ouarzazate. It is therefore no problem to marvel at both sights one after the other. The Cinema Museum’s exhibits include film sets, costumes, decorations, props and statues from numerous famous movies and TV series.

The film studios of Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate, Film Studios
Atlas Film Studio, Image: Ryzhkov Oleksandr / shutterstock

The film studios of Ouarzazate are also worth a visit and serve as a filming location for the Atlas Corporation Film Studio and the CLA Studio. Numerous film classics such as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Mummy”, “Gladiator”, “The Physician” as well as the TV series “The Bible” and “Game of Thrones” were created there.

If there is no filming going on, there is the possibility to take a tour of the studios. It goes past the admirable cardboard film sets, which mostly depict ancient buildings. By the way, the Ouarzazate Film Festival has been held every year since 2016.

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World Heritage Site Ait Ben Haddou

About 30 kilometres to the northwest of Ouarzazate is the clay town of Ait Ben Haddou, another unforgettable destination. Since 1987, the place has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Air Ben Haddou has also often served as a film set. Among other things, the James Bond film “The Touch of Death”, the mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth”, “Sodom and Gomorrah” and “Alexander” were made here.

The history of the clay buildings worth seeing dates back to the 11th century. Often, the local Berbers offer services as tourist guides. There are also a variety of souvenir stalls in the town. From some locations, visitors can expect a fantastic panoramic view of the town, the stone desert and the river. A visit to Ait Ben Haddou is an essential part of a trip to Morocco.

Other attractions

Children also get their money’s worth in the small zoo of Ouarzazate. Outside the city, the Draa and Dades valleys are worth a detour, which offer an impressive landscape. No less worth seeing are the desert towns of M ́Hamid and Merzouga.

By bike, you can take a trip to the El Mansour Eddhabi reservoir.

Where to stay in Ouarzazate

There are numerous accommodations available for visitors to Ouarzarzate. They range from simple quarters to luxury hotels. In the high season, however, they are quickly occupied.

Friends of culinary specialties can expect several restaurants in the city, even a pizzeria is available.

 

 

Weather in Ouarzazate

Month Average maximum temperature (°C) Average low temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm)
January 18 3 5
February 21 5 7
March 24 8 12
April 27 11 7
May 31 15 5
June 36 19 2
July 39 22 0
August 38 22 2
September 34 18 5
October 28 13 10
November 22 7 15
December 18 4 10