Ouarzazate, named by the Berbers meaning “without noise,” is an accurate reflection of a modest town, whose clay buidlings have survived since the 11th century. These red pink buildings are everywhere and were built by the ancient Berber tribes, consisting mostly of Kasbahs and Ksours. Two of the most famous kasbahs are the 18th century Taorirt Kasbah and the 17th century Tiffoultout. No wonder then that Ouarzazate was once known as “the city of a thousand Kasbahs.” It was once a busy link for north south traders who would cross over to Marrakesh and Fez from the Sahara.
The combination of the mountain and desert has created an abundance of oases which has provided an essential water supply to locals. Until recently Ouarzazate has remained mainly a quiet and uneventful place, but due to its traditional Moroccan architecture and arid landscape it has proved popular with the film industry. Many well-known films have been made here including The Jewel of the Nile with Michael Douglas and The Living Daylights with Timothy Dalton. Tours are available should you wish to explore the film studios in more detail. The Atlas Film Studios were created in 1983 and is the largest film studio in the world; tours of the studio are from October to February.
The building date back to the medieval times and are well preserved despite their age, however, attempts are being made to protect them from the climate and environmental damage. It is the ragged territory and arid desert, combined with these ancient buildings, which are the main attraction of Ouarzazate. The government are hoping to preserve the structure of these superb buildings, while at the same time protecting the way of life of the local Berbers.
Ouarzazate like most of Morocco is renowned for its artistic ability as well as architectural skills, and at the Ouarzazate Arts & Crafts Centre you can watch the craftsmen at work on materials such as leather, silver and copper. It is also famous for its carpets in keeping with the rest of Morocco, with its own unique design. These consist of sharp red and orange geometric shapes on a black background.
Ouarzazate is a beautiful town, and although it is quieter than some of the main cities of Morocco there is plenty to do. Visit the Kasbahs or take a trip through the oases or perhaps take a film studio tour. With the rugged landscape, imperious mountains, and stunning architecture there is plenty to keep the visitor engaged throughout their visit.