Almost all travellers will pass through Ouarzazate, where the Tizi-n-Tichka route over the mountains from Marrakech meets the main east-west Er Rachidia to Agadir axis running parallel to the south side of the High Atlas. Ouarzazate is the centre of Morocco’s film industry, the desert surroundings standing in as various parts of this and other planets. Nearby, Aït Ben Haddou is the biggest film star of all, a stunning sand castle of a kasbah.
Strategically placed at the confluence of three rivers, the name ‘Ouarzazate’ is highly evocative of a dusty desert fort. In reality, this once-isolated military outpost now has an international airport and a core of luxury hotels alongside its kasbah. The historic highlight of Ouarzazate itself is the Kasbah Taourirt east of the town centre. Constructed largely in the 19th century, the building had its heyday in the 1930s and would have housed the Glaoui chief’s extended family, servants and followers, as well as a community of tradesmen, artisans and cultivators.