Once used as a base for desert safaris, Ouarzazate is now making a bid to be a destination in its own right. Strategically located within reach of some of the finest ksour (fortified towns) and oases of the south, Ouarzazate is also famous as the centre of the Moroccan film industry. Read more
...continued from Ouarzazate & Skoura page.
If the rocky terrain around Ouarzazate seems familiar, that’s because the area has been used as the backdrop for many Hollywood film productions. Ouarzazate has doubled up as Tibet, Egypt and every country of the Middle East in films like Jewel of the Nile, The Sheltering Sky, Kundun, Gladiator, The Kingdom of Heaven and Prince of Persia. You can see some of the props at the Atlas Film Studios just outside town.
Ouarzazate itself is a largely modern town, built as a garrison for the French Foreign Legion in the 1920s. The only historic building is the Taourirt Kasbah, home of the infamous Glaoui family, the ‘Lords of the Atlas’, who controlled access to the southern trade routes in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Taourirt Kasbah also has a Hollywood connection - it made a cameo appearance in Star Wars. Opposite is a small crafts area where you can buy carpets, carved implements and earthenware at keener prices than in Marrakech.
If you prefer to stay somewhere more atmospheric, Skoura, a small town 35 kms east of Ouarzazate with a lovely palmeraie and kasbah, makes a good alternative for exploring the pre-Sahara.