Ait Benhaddou, Morocco, October 6, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ait Benhaddou is probably the most exotic and best preserved Moroccan casbah and is situated south of the High Atlas range a short distance from Ouarzazate.  It is definitely the most famous and most photographed since it has been used as a film set for a number of movies ranging from Jesus of Nazareth to Lawrence of Arabia, including for some scenes in one of my favorites, Gladiator.  Ait Benhaddou was situated along a former caravan trading route between the salt mines in the Sahara in today's Mali and the imperial city of Marrakech and was controlled by the allegedly very belligerent Glaoui tribe of Berbers. 
Although a UNESCO World Heritage site, there were fortunately few tourists at Ait Benhaddou during out visit and also rather few persistent carpet and trinket salespeople but also little to do than wander around and take in the ambience of the old fortified village.  With the epic theme music from Gladiator repeating through my mind on the windy late afternoon, I circled around the casbah for the best shots, clambered around the empty houses, and climbed to the top of the hill on which Ait Benhaddou is situated.  There was probably never any Roman gladiatorial combat here but being at Gladiator's I couldn't help but fantasize about Russell Crowe fighting in the arena.
 
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