Ait Benhaddou and Atlas Movie Studios

A particularly scenic fortified cluster of kasbahs, Ait Benhaddou is now a prime location for film crews. Productions include Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones, Kingdom of Heaven, Alexander, The Mummy and Prince of Persia.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built at some point between the 13th and 17th centuries. It is regularly maintained though using traditional techniques and materials. It is still home to a couple of families, though they’re outnumbered by the hotels, shops, tourists and film crews.

Walking up through the Kasbah as the sun set was photogenic as expected.

There were some great sunset views and colours from the Granary at the top of the hill.

In the morning a film crew had arrived, with a host of large lorries parked up on the river bed.

Half an hour up the road at Atlas Movie Studios many more films and TV series have been shot since 1983, including Gladiator, Game of Thrones, The Jewel of the Nile (which the plane was used for), The Living Daylights, the 2016 Ben Hur remake, The Vikings, Kingdom of Heaven, and Prince of Persia.

They’ve got quite a collection of sets made mainly of wood and plaster, including their ever popular biblical and ancient Egypt ones. There are some entertaining reviews on Trip Advisor complaining about how fake things were here, and that people should visit Egypt to see the real thing. Obviously!

The most unexpected was a Tibetan temple built for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun more than twenty years ago, and barely used since. Three hundred Tibetan extras were flown to Morocco to film a ten minute sequence.

There was also plenty of street art style wall paintings around the place.

To finish with views of the High Atlas from the drive between Ait Benhaddou and Toubkal National Park, including from the Tizi n’Tichka Pass. At 2,260m above sea level it is the highest drivable road in Morocco.

Author: jontycrane

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