Ever since David Lean shot Lawrence of Arabia at nearby Aït Benhaddou in 1962, film directors have been drawn to Ouarzazate, and the area has, over the years, stood in for Jerusalem, Persia, Somalia, Ancient Egypt and even Tibet. Bernardo Bertolucci came here in 1990 to film Paul Bowles’s novel, The Sheltering Sky, while Martin Scorsese based much of The Last Temptation of Christ (1998) and Kundun (1996) in the surrounding hammada – as a tottering Tibetan temple at the Atlas Corporation Studios just outside of town can testify to. Oliver Stone shot Alexander here in 2004, while Ridley Scott can’t seem to get enough of the place, choosing the region for Gladiator (1999), Black Hawk Down (2001), Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and – proving that Ouarzazate has still got what it takes – Prometheus (2012).

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