Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Morocco: Ait Benhaddou, Movie Set and More

The ancient ksour or citadel of Ait Benhaddou. At the top, tourists and local children on school
tours make their way to a former grain storage house. At the bottom, a movie is being filmed. We
were told that it was Jackie Chan's production company but that he's not in this film. 

You've probably seen Ait Benhaddou or the desert that surrounds it in movies.  Films in the "Star Wars" series have been shot here, along with just about any movie that needed an exotic desert: "Lawrence of Arabia," Orson Welles's "Sodam and Gomorrah," "Gladiator," "Alexander," and "Jesus of Nazareth," to name a few. A couple of big film studios are within a few minutes' drive.

For the itinerary of our three weeks in Morocco
and links to hotels, click HERE.

      This area is part of the Atlas region, but not the High Atlas, and was once a stop for caravans traveling from one oasis to another. Today it's a tourist attraction, though people still live in the mud-brick buildings. A more modern community is across the river (from which the photo above was taken), which is where most of the restaurants and hotels are.  The winding passageways of Ait Benhaddou are lined with shops selling Berber textiles and other goods.
    We stayed a few kilometers down the road at Kasbah Titrit, which is near the ruins of Kasbah Tamdaght, which appeared in "Gladiator." For 10 dirham (one U.S. dollar), you can enter Tamdaght and clamber around its crumbling walls and even venture onto what roof it has left. One interior room is in pretty good shape and is used to display costumes, mostly dresses, from movies that were shot here.
    Kasbah Titrit is architecturally similar to Tamdaght (mud bricks, towers, terraces) but has been restored as a boutique hotel boasting an indoor pool, a hammam and spa, a dining room serving mainly French cuisine, and large, beautiful rooms with views of the desert. We spent two nights here. Below are some snapshots.
The intact and crisp towers of Kasbah Titrit provide a contrast to the crumbling ruins next door.

A view from inside Kasbah Tamdaght.

Storks find a home at Tamdaght.

The view from our room at Titrit. 

A street in the Ait Benhaddou ksour. 

Steps to the granary atop Ait Benhaddou.

Ait Benhaddou is riddled with public passageways such as this.

Jane and me atop Ait Benhaddou with stunning views
of the desert and oasis countryside.

The pool at Kasbah Titrit.

Our rather palatial bathroom at Kasbah Titrit.

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