The Aït-ben-Haddou ksar in Morocco

Aït Benhaddou Maroc

Visit Aït-ben-Haddou

Aït-ben-Haddou (or Aït Benhaddou) is a small Moroccan town in the province of Ouarzazate, 190 km from Marrakech.

It’s a city of traditional southern Moroccan architecture on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. It is made up of a series of mud-brick buildings, and contrary to what you may sometimes read or hear, it is not a Kasbah, but a Ksar (fortified village). It is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Aït Benhaddou Maroc

Flickr – Maureen

The village of Aït-ben-Haddou is most famous for having been used as a backdrop in numerous films, most often as a replacement for Jerusalem. It has appeared in a dozen films, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Aït Benhaddou Maroc

Flickr – Guillén Pérez

What can you see in Aït-ben-Haddou?

The town as a whole is well worth a long look. The sunlight on the fortified village offers superb colors, a feast for the eye. The ksar is built into the side of a hill, adding to the beauty of the view. Inside, it’s like visiting an open-air museum! Entrance to the fortress is free of charge, so don’t let anyone who wants to charge you anything to let you into their home.

Aït Benhaddou Maroc

Flickr – Olivier

The collective attic(agadir) at the top of the hill is impressive and well worth climbing up to. Just watch out for the little « contractors » who want to help you get upstairs into the attic. They’ll wait until your back is turned to remove the makeshift staircase that got you up, and « demand » a bribe in return to let you back down…

Don’t miss the Ben-Haddou mausoleum at the foot of the hill on the other side of town.

Aït Benhaddou Maroc

Flickr – Sylvain Bourdos

Before arriving, but also once at the top of the village, enjoy the incredible views over the region.

How do I get to Aït-ben-Haddou from Marrakech?

The ksar of Aït-ben-Haddou lies 33 km north of Ouarzazate and 190 km south of Marrakech. Contrary to what is indicated on the map below, it’s not a 2h30 drive from Marrakech, but rather a 4h drive. It all depends on which bus you take or, if you rent a car, how fast you drive.

Buses don’t go directly to Aït Benhaddou, but can drop you off at the junction (between the N9 and the P1506) about 7 km from your destination. At this point, you’ll usually find several cabs waiting. A seat will cost you around 10 dirhams (€0.90). The whole cab costs 60 dirhams (€5.30).

If you’re driving, you’ll need to take Route Nationale 9 from Marrakech, turning off at the junction with Route P1506.

If you want to get there in a single day from Marrakech, it’s best to do it with a specialized agency. You’ll also need to bear in mind that you’ll be spending almost 8 hours each way in transport, which can be very tiring. If you want to take your time, it’s best to sleep in.

Sleeping in Aït-ben-Haddou

You can sleep in one of the village’s inns. Most of the hotels/inns in Aït-ben-Haddou have a restaurant where you can sample Berber specialities. To find a hotel in Aït-ben-Haddou, search from this list.

You can also take advantage of your stay in Aït-ben-Haddou to continue towards Ouarzazate and spend the night in Ouarzazate.

Have you ever visited the ksar of Aït-ben-Haddou?