Ouarzazate Tourism: Sights and Attractions
Ouarzazate is a small if neat little town used essentially as an outpost to the great Moroccan desert with its large craft of new hotels. The sights are very few and far in between, but the Kasbah Taorirt and Kasbah Tifoultoute on the outskirts of town both deserve a visit.
The other notable sight in Ouarzazate will be of great interest to movie fans. The Atlas Film Corporation Studios, on the outskirts of town, is the set used in several international blockbusters.
Kasbah Taourirt is located at the east end of town, a twenty minute walk from the centre.
This was built by the Galoui chiefs in the 19th century and reached its height in the 1930s when it was considered the largest Kasbah in Morocco – an enormous construction housing the family of the chief, his servants and followers as well as a community of labourers, builders and craftsmen.
Unfortunately, the Kasbah has fallen into decline and despite “rehabilitation” plans, parts of the Kasbah are partly ruined and the rear end is still occupied by the poor in Ouarzazate in a maze of narrow alleyways, houses and shops. What you are shown is the maintained area, adjacent to the main road, which would have been the quarters of the family and extended relatives, including courtyards and reception rooms.
The Kasbah Taourirt is open Monday to Saturdays from 8:00 to 18:30. Admission is 10dh.
10 kilometers to the north of Ouarzazate stands the Kasbah Tifoultoute, said to be over 300 years old. However, the present structure is largely 20th century, the original property of the Glaoui clan.
The Kasbah has been converted to a hotel in the 1960s for the cast of Lawrence of Arabia. It is still a hotel serving adequate food and giving some magnificent views from its terrace. The Kasbah is open for visits for a small fee: you can climb the roof for amazing panoramic views over the countryside and a stork’s nest on the turrets.
The Kasbah Tifoultoute is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00 to 19:00. Admission fee is 10dh.
Atlas Film Corporation Studios
Since Lawrence of Arabia was shot in Ait Benhaddou in the 1960’s, Ouarzazate and its region has been a popular filming location for many of Hollywood blockbusters. The magnificent desert and mountain scenery and the plentiful supply of authentic-looking extras have been a favourite directors’ choice.
To see the sets of some international blockbusters, such as Gladiator, Kundun, Alexander the Great and Kingdom of Heaven, visit the Atlas Film Corporation Studios, 5 kilometres west of town on the Marrakech road.
The Atlas Film Corporation Studios are open to the general public for mini-tours for a small fee.