Home to some of Morocco’s best preserved Kasbahs, the UNESCO-World Heritage listed city of Aït Benhaddou once occupied a prominent position on the trans-Saharan trade route and is now one of the country’s most famous attractions. Sculpted from traditional mud bricks, the town is a striking sight, perched on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains and fortified by walls of dark red pisé.
The highlight of the city is the Telouet Kasbah, once the lavish 20th-century home of notorious Thami el Glaoui, ‘the Lord of the Atlas’, who was both a pasha of Marrakech and the chief of the Berber Glaoua tribe, and famously conspired to overthrow Sultan Mohammed V. Since his death in 1956, Aït Benhaddou fell into ruin, but traces of its former glory linger on in the immaculately restored buildings, the magnificent hilltop Granary and the elaborate Mausoleum of Benhaddou.
As well as making a popular side trip for those visiting the Sahara from Marrakech, Aït Benhaddou also boasts an impressive resume of film credits, serving as a set location for a number of international movies. The city’s dramatic edifice and mountain backdrop has graced the big screen in films like Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth and Babel, and was most recently used as a filming location for HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones.