Morocco // The southern oases routes //

The ksar

As ever, it’s impossible to determine exactly how old the ksar of Aït Benhaddou is, though there seem to have been buildings here since at least the eleventh century. The importance of the site, which commands the area for miles around, was its position on the trans-Saharan trade route from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate and the south. In the twentieth century, the significance of this route disappeared with the creation of the Tizi n’Tichka, which has led to severe depopulation – there are now only half a dozen families inhabiting the kasbahs, earning a sparse living from the valley’s agriculture and rather more from the tourists who pass through.

Follow the network of lanes uphill and you’ll eventually arrive at the ruins of a vast and imposing agadir, or fortified granary, from where there are great views over the surrounding desert.

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