The ksar of Ait Benhaddou is one of the most gorgeous among the many that exist in Morocco.

A ksar is a fortified village which fulfilled a protecting role for a given community. It a conglomerate of adobe buildings (made of clay, manure and straw) encircled by high defensives walls. The one of Ait Benhaddou was located upon a sandstone hill on the path between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate, the desert’s gate. It served as a setting for movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Prince of Persia or the Gladiator.

The ksar’s edge is bathed by a river that cannot be crossed on foot during certain periods of the year. When it has water, it can only be crossed by using a bridge or a camel.

Many years ago, the ksar was located on the caravan route between the Sahara desert and the city of Marrakesh. This route was used by Berber and Tuareg merchants, who carried goods between Sudan and Marrakesh.

The story behind the ksar’s foundation is not particularly clear. One legend says that the Christian queen of the name Kaehna gave the order to build the ksar in order to fight the area’s Moor invasion. But the one considered to be more likely says that it was founded by a merchant named Aissa, who decided to build the ksar to serve as a protection site for his caravans. Back then, the fortress was called Ait Aissa, which means descendants of Aissa.

This merchant was part of the Ben Haddou clan, hence, several years later, already in the 17th century, the ksar was renamed to Ait Benhaddou.

Nowadays, inside the ksar, there is a mosque, several shops, a museum about the local history and some inhabited houses. The majority of the current population lives on the river’s opposite side.

This site was chosen as World Heritage in 1987.

Visiting this enchanting scenario is very interesting. I recommend doing so.