Ouarzazate

Region: Souss – Massa – Draâ
Population: 46,000

 

Ouarzazate, the administrative hub of the south east, has developed into a true tourist destination during the last years and has gained a lot of significance, especially due to the Atlas Film Studios which are close by. The city is located in the pre-Sahara on a desert-like plateau at 1.160 m of elevation and is situated in a fabulous setting with the Atlas Mountains in the north, the desert in the south and the ample water reservoir El-Mansour-Eddahbi in the east. For quite some time now, the Ouarzazate plateau with its 30 ha of movie scenery has been very popular with producers of the cinema industry, which is where the city’s second name “Hollywood of the desert” came from.

Interested fans can visit various sceneries in their original setting, among them the plane from the movie “The Jewel of the Nile”, the Tibetan temple shown in “Kundun”, the housing featured in “The Ten Commandments” or even the palace of Cleopatra from the movie “Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre “. But it was only in the 1980-ies, that the charming town stepped out of the shadow of illustrious Marrakesh – developing into the city it is today, featuring a modern hotel business, a culture and congress center, the filmstudios, a riding club, a golf course and an international airport. The most fascinating highlight of Ouarzazate is the Glaoui-Kasbah Taourirt, emerging from the famous Ksar Taourirt, which is sheltered by a huge adobe castle.

The interlaced adobe village which includes a Mellah (Jewish quarter), is still inhabited by clansmen and family members of the Glaoui tribe. The Kasbah itself, one of the biggest in the country, used to be the office and residence of the Khalifa ruling El Glaoui, and next to numerous living rooms it also comprised several representative premises in Moorish style. The outer walls spellbind the visitor with rich Amazigh patterns made from geometrical motives – and machicolation document the martial conflicts of former days. South of the river, the district Tabount can be visited, which holds the famous Kasbah of the storks – with many of the precious bird nesting in the many niches of the old buildings.