Ouarzazate Attractions

Settled at the edge of great Sahara Desert, Ouarzazate has rightly earned the moniker of “The door of the desert”. Its strategic location has drawn many people from the Atlas, Draa, and Dadés Valley to do business in the rambling Taourirt Kasbah. But, the city is most popular for its connection with the movie business.

The city is built at an elevation of 1160 meters and is mostly inhabited by Berber speakers, who constructed many Kasbahs and prominent buildings for which the city is famous. Those on an excursion in Draa Valley, Dades Valley, or Skoura, are usually drawn by the movie sets and centuries-old Kasbahs in the city.

The place is not just famous among tourists, but also movie directors and producers. Ouarzazate has been used as a backdrop for movies supposedly set in Tibet, ancient Rome, Somalia, and Egypt. Some of the many Hollywood blockbusters that were shot here include Gladiator and The Mummy. Recently, the city featured in the famed TV show, The Game of Thrones.

It is the home of the world’s largest film studio – the Atlas Studio. Several historical movies were shot here including Lawrence of Arabia and Mission Cleopatra.

Though Ouarzazate is more of a staging post in most itineraries, there is a lot in the city that you can spend a couple of days exploring.

Telouet Kasbah

Located not far away in the outskirts of the city is the Telouet Kasbah. Once the center of trade and a wealthy abode of the rich, it is along the former route of the caravans that traveled from Sahara over the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. Nicknamed as “Valley of the Kasbahs”, the place has beautifully ornate and phenomenally expensive Kasbahs, Aït Benhaddou being the most spectacular one.

It was abandoned more than half a century ago and what remains of it is relics and ruins. However, if you travel closer, within the halls of palace and its reception rooms, you will still find decorations and old objects that reflect the lost opulence of the place.

Kasbah Aït Benhaddou

Kasbah Aït Benhaddou is the most spectacular Kasbah in all of Morocco. The clustered houses of this Ksar are a classic example of old earthen clay architecture, which is typical of Morocco. The kasbah is fortified with walls and houses half a dozen merchant houses and other individual abodes. In 1987, it was given the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you are going to stay in the city, do not forget to catch the golden glimpse of the Kasbah as it shines under the rising sun. Watch sun setting from its highest point while sipping on tea. The quiet atmosphere of the place is almost infectious. Except the sounds of a few locals and call to prayer, the place is peaceful.

Fint Oasis

If Ouarzazate is the “Door of the desert”, this Fint Oasis may also be the desert’s garden.

Green and full of life, the oasis is a tranquil and comparatively cooler place to relax and unwind in the evening, after having explored the dusty streets and earthen clay houses of Ouarzazate.

Amid and around the oasis are four villages with Sub-Saharan, Moroccan and Berber inhabitants and offer a rich cultural exposure for the tourists. Contrary to the hip and happening urbanized Casablanca, the streets of these villages are still roamed by donkeys and women can still be seen washing clothes in the river. You might recognize the place from the movies Prince of Persia and Kingdom of Heaven.

Locals here are quite friendly and will even agree to sip on mint tea with you, while recapping the history of the town. Fint oasis is also the host to nightly musical performances, where people are dining and dancing to the unique mix of Berber, Arab and African rhythms.

There are hotels in the oasis where you can consider spending the night.

Visit the Film Studios

Located on the road of Marrakech, the main road into Ouarzazate, CLA Studios is a fascinating place to explore for the movie buff. If you are a GOT fan, the studio is where Daenerys bought her the army of Unsullied men.

The studio is never crowded, so you will have a good chance to scrutinize every set peacefully.

Another famous studio in the city is the Atlas Studio. Largest in the world, it has some most spectacular sets that together make it a complete new world. From an enormous prop jet plane to humongous statues, the studio has everything that makes a place grand. When you step out in the desert, you will come across the Colosseum where Crowe fought in Gladiator.

The idea of building studios in Morocco was implemented by in the year 1983 by the Moroccan entrepreneur Mohamed Belghmi. However, Morocco has long been on the top of the list for many producers and directors. The city had already featured in the epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, even before the studios were constructed.

Staying Back in the City of Ouarzazate

The city has many options if you are looking for a place to stay. From inexpensive hotels to fancy abodes, the place offers options for everyone to choose according to their budget.

Below are some places you can check out:

  • Kasbah Tifaoute Guesthouse
  • Auberge le Defat
  • Dar Kamar
  • Le Petit Riad
  • Le Temple Des Arts
  • Kasbah Dar Daif

Where to Eat in the City

Ouarzazate has more than a couple of restaurants that offer gastronomic experiences with a menu that combines the taste of different Moroccan cuisines including Fes, Meknes, Tangier, Arab and Berber.

  • Le Kasbah des Sable
  • Côté Sud
  • Chez D’mitri
  • Les Jardins Arome
  • Saint Expury

The city also offers dishes centered around Italian cuisine.

  • La Rose Des Sables Restaurant Pizzeria
  • Restaurant Phoenix
  • Restaurant Kasbah Sidi Mansour

If you are looking for French dishes, then head to one the following restaurants.

  • La Kasbah des Sables
  • Accord Majeur
  • Relais Saint-Exupery
  • Restaurant Kasbah Sidi Mansour
  • Restaurant L’ile De Ouarzazate

Mediterranean cuisine is available in some restaurants in the city.

  • Côté Sud
  • Kasbah Tafarnout
  • Le Jardin des Aromes
  • Restaurant L’ile De Ouarzazate
  • Restaurant Douyria
  • Chez D’mitri