Marrakech-Zagora-Merzouga | the High Atlas Mountains
Ouarzazate, the Door of the Sahara
Ouarzazate is a well-known city in the southern region of Morocco, which is a vast region rich in mountains and deserts.
Located at the edge of the Sahara and just south of the vast Atlas mountain ranges, this is one of the most unique regions in the entire world.
Situated in the southern region of Morocco is a place called Ouarzazate.
It is an important city of Morocco and located south of the High Atlas mountains.
The city is an important destination for those intending to explore the high atlas and the vast Sahara desert.
Nicknamed as ‘The Door of the Desert’ due to its proximity to the Sahara.
It is an important destination of tourism as well as a transit station for exploring tourist hotspots across southern Morocco.
Also, the history of the city goes back to ancient times when it served as a crossing point for caravans and other traders who lived in the area.
With the passage of time, the place slowly became a major settlement.
The real expansion of the settlement began during the colonial era, when the French expanded the settlement as a garrison town, with the building of administrative buildings and other defensive fortifications.
As time passed by, it attracted settlers from around the region and became the city that it is today.
As a result, Ouarzazate has a desert climate, due to its location being close to the edge of the Sahara.
The temperatures are fairly warm in winter and very hot during summers.
Also, there is a chilling effect in the region being close to the High Atlas winds.
Furthermore, the place has fairly cold nights for much of the year, due to its proximity to the desert.
There are several amazing places to visit to visit in and around Ouarzazate. Some of the most important are given in the list below.
The Draa River is the longest river in all of Morocco. It is located along the eastern border of the region, adjacent to Algeria.
Originating high up in the Atlas Mountains, it flows across the country and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The river remains dry for most parts of the year, with the exception of certain places.
During the wet season, however, the river often runs full, all the way from the base of the Atlas Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Draa valley is a popular destination located east of Ouarzazate and is well known for its landscapes, culture, food and other leisure activities.
A Kasbah is a walled fortress built for defensive purposes.
Taourirt Kasbah is one such fortification located in the city of Ouarzazate.
The Kasbah is an excellent example of traditional Moroccan architecture and building styles, located well within the city area.
It is also a great place to get some stunning views of the surrounding city and landscape.
Located at a fairly high elevation on the way to Zagora, is the Tifoultoute Kasbah.
It was built in the 18th century at a strategic location in the region.
It is about eight km west of the city and was once the possession of the family of Thami El Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech.
The Kasbah is an excellent place to check out the traditional architecture and learn about the local culture.
Additionally, there is a great view of the surrounding areas from the Kasbah center.
Last but not the least; make sure that you don’t miss out on the tasty tea inside the Kasbah.
This is a fairly popular and important Kasbahs in the Ouarzazate province. It offers an excellent example of Moroccan architecture in the region.
It is also an important Berber guest house, where you can stay to get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
The Atlas Cinema Studios, more commonly known as Atlas Studios, is one of the most important tourist destinations in the region.
It is located about five kilometers west of Ouarzazate and is the world’s largest film studio.
It was built 1983 by entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi, for the purpose of filming and entertainment, on what was originally barren desert land.
With the passage of time, the place became very popular among tourists.
Some of the movies that have been shot here include
As the name would suggest, this is a place for shopping located in the center of Ouarzazate.
From handicrafts to dry fruits, you can find a wide range of items up for sale at the Ouarzazate Center Market.
Also called Ouarzazate Lake, this is a fairly calm and serene place, located on the outskirts of Ouarzazate.
It is actually an artificial lake created by the Al-Mansour Ad-Dahbi dam and provides an amazing view of the surrounding areas.
Ait Benhaddou is what is called an ‘inghrem’ or in simple words, fortified villages.
It was built a very long time ago along caravan routes, for the travelers going between the Sahara and places like Marrakech.
Within the walls are about half a dozen Kasbahs, along with other homes, which are built using earthen clay.
It is today an important tourist destination, well known for its traditional architecture, small lanes, and other cultural elements.
It is, in fact, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.
Ait Barka is a popular tourist destination located on the way to Marrakesh city.
It is an important place of culture and heritage in the region, known for its kasbahs and other dwellings of earthen clay architecture.
In addition to this, you can also learn a lot about the Berber people, who inhabit this village and experience the views of the surrounding region and landscapes.
Video By: Salim El Ouadghiri
As a whole, Ouarzazate is an excellent city for those who are traveling across Southern Morocco.
Rich in history and culture, as well as being in the crossroads of some of the most important tourist hubs in the area, Ouarzazate is one destination in Morocco that you cannot miss out on.
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