When planning your trip to Morocco, you may already have a few stops and suggestions in mind.
Of course, you have to see the bustling marketplaces, the souks, the beaches, and savor the food, but you also have to see the Sahara, and the desert landscape that Morocco is so well known for.
If that sounds good to you, then you need to add Ouarzazate to your bucket list.
This desert paradise with some of the most incredible clay architecture that has stood the test of time, and been around for thousands of years.
It is named after a Berber phrase meaning ‘without noise’ which may refer to its desolate location, and is most renowned for its Kasbah town of Ait Ben-Haddou.
Let’s take a look at Ouarzazate in closer detail, and what you can do there on your travels.
Ouarzazate is a city just south of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and acts as a gateway to the stunning Sahara Desert.
The sprawling sand dunes, beautiful sunsets, and camel rides really make you feel like you’re in the heart of traditional, authentic Morocco.
Visiting Ouarzazate will send you on a journey as if you’re in the middle of a movie.
This comes as no surprise as Ouarzazate is not only the epicenter of the Moroccan movie industry, but has been used in big Hollywood blockbusters, too.
As a result, Ouarzazate is most famous for its film studios, which can be visited via guided tours. This is why Ouarzazate is often referred to as the Hollywood of Morocco.
With a rugged, open landscape, rocky gorges, amazing valleys, lush palm groves, and a breathtaking oasis, this place is a sight to behold.
Things To Do In Ouarzazate
There are a myriad of opportunities in Ouarzazate, but these are some of our favorites.
By far the most spectacular and biggest draw of visiting Ouarzazate is the Taourirt Kasbah. This location is within the city of Ouarzazate, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This historic fortified residence was once owned by the el Glaoui clan, a very powerful and influential family.
The kasbah resides on what was once a major caravan route, and was built in the 19th century. Today, you can visit the maze for itself, with sharp steps, narrow passages, and what seems like infinite rooms and towers.
It has been used as a Hollywood movie backdrop many times, yet the interior has been carefully preserved, with original reed ceilings, mosaics, stairwells, and keyhole archways to uncover.
You can also explore the old village just beyond the walls of the kasbah, and find homemade wares and local crafts.
This oasis is found just outside of Ouarzazate, around 12 km south of the city. The term ‘Fint’ in Tamazight means to be hidden, and it truly is.
Fint Oasis is difficult to find, and you will need to go down a dirt road in order to reach your destination, but this view is breathtaking.
The glorious palms oasis tucked between the hills will feel like you’ve stumbled across a patch of heaven yourself.
Here, you can picnic under the palms, promenade inside the oasis, go hiking down the river, or spend a night with a local family to get a taste of the village life.
This spot is a historic gem between the Sahara and Markesh.
It is often thought of as an exceptional example of true Moroccan earthen clay structures and architecture, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 1980s.
If you want to see authentic Moroccan architecture, then you have to visit Ait Ben-haddou.
This stunning mud brick city is around 30 km away from Ouarzazate, but is easy to get to. These structures were built around 1000 years ago, yet still many come to visit to this day.
If you want to learn more about Ouarzazate’s glamorous movie making history, then head to the Cinema Museum.
This museum actually resides within a former film studio, built by an Italian filmmaking company in 1981.
Here, you can find vintage film sets, cinematic equipment, cameras, and props to discover.
You can look back through time at the various film posters of the movies shot in Ouarzazate, and visit the throne room, torture room, and jail.
It is located just opposite the Taourirt Kasbah, so it is easily accessible, and very easy to find.
If you’re a bit of a movie buff, then you’ll love visiting Atlas Studios. It’s a movie wonderland.
You’ll get to see the real sets where many movies have been made, learn about how they were constructed, and gain insight into the movie making process.
Many sets have been there for years, and have been repurposed and reused for various productions.
Atlas Studios has been used for films like The Mummy, Gladiator and The Pope, but has also been used as a shooting location for Game Of Thrones, too.
If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into the movies, then Atlas Studios should definitely be on your radar when visiting Ouarzazate.
The Old Synagogue
Tucked away in a hidden backstreet of the Mellah behind the Kasbah is this historical synagogue, which is centuries old.
This synagogue is filled with the possessions of the departed Jewish people that once resided in the town, and you can go room to room to explore them.
You can go on a tour with the keeper of the synagogue, whose family once lived there and learn about the community of Jewish people who lived in Morocco.
To summarize, if you are looking for something really special and different to do in Morocco, then you have to head to Ourazazate, the Hollywood hub of Morocco.
You can visit old movie sets, see the beauty of the Sahara, and explore the old clay buildings that are so synonymous with Moroccan culture. It’s unmissable.