Ouarzazate nicknamed The door of the desert, is a city and capital of Ouarzazate Province in Drâa-Tafilalet region of south-central Morocco. Ouarzazate is at an elevation of 1,160 metres (3,810 ft) in the middle of a bare plateau south of the High Atlas Mountains. To the south of the town is the desert.
The town is chiefly inhabited by Berber-speakers, who constructed many of the prominent kasbahs (locally known as: iɣeṛman) and buildings for which the area is known. Ouarzazate is an important holiday destination in Morocco, as a base for excursions across the Draa Valley and into the desert. The fortified village (ksar) of Aït Benhaddou west of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ouarzazate area is a noted film-making location, with Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international companies to work here. Films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Kundun (1997), Legionnaire (1998), Hanna (2011),The Hills Have Eyes (2006), and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) were shot here, as was part of the TV series Game of Thrones.
The nearby Ouarzazate solar power station, co-funded by the Arab League, was connected to the Moroccan power grid in February 2016.
HistoryFor a long time, Ouarzazate was a small crossing point for African traders on their way to northern Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town, administrative centre and customs post. It is home to the kasbah of Taourirt, which was the casbah of the former caïd and later owned by T’hami El Glaoui. The Krupp field gun which secured Glaoui power is displayed outside the kasbah today.
The area is also known for its Ouazguita carpets with geometric designs of red-orange on black background.
Film StudiosAtlas Studios is one of the largest movie studios in the world, in terms of land area. Several historical movies were shot here, including The Living Daylights, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator, and Babel. It was also the location of an episode of the television series The Amazing Race 10 and Game of Thrones (Season 3). Prison Break Season 5 is also located here.
Another large studio in Oarzazate is CLA Studios.
Sight NearbyThe kasbah-town of Aït Benhaddou is nearby. Many excursions through the valley of the Draa River into the Sahara start from the city. These include trips to Zagora, an oasis town surrounded by palm tree plantations and a departure point for camel trains to Timbuktu, a journey that would take about 52 days. These days the border to Algeria is closed, stopping the Timbuktu route.
The city was part of the route of the 2006 and 2007 Dakar Rally.
Many sights can be visited within the city, but also, a wide list of interesting attractions can be found around Ouarzazate.
Sights around OuarzazateTifoultoute Kasbah
Jbel Adad Petroglyphs
Iguernan Nature Reserve
Ksar Ait Benhaddou
Atlas Film Studios
The Abandoned “Hills Have Eyes”
Al Mansour Dahbi Dam
Gazelle Animal Natural Reserve of Bouljir