Ouarzazate Then & Now, A Growing Berber City in Southern Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide
“Ouarzazate has one main street, about fifty yards long, and two thousand people, of whom two hundred are French. The temperature can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. ” So says world-renowned journalist John Gunther in 1952, of his visit to Ouarzazate, during the reign of the Pasha Glaoui, whose honored guest he was.
“The sight I enjoyed most,” he says, “next to the kasbahs, was the general store, run by a Greek. It resembles closely the general store in Twin Corners, Montana, or Greensboro, Vermont. The frigidaire has cold beer, ham is sliced by a machine made in Toledo, and you can buy anything from a can of sardines to a monkey wrench.”
“From Ouarzazate, two roads stretch out which are among the most interesting in all Africa, one going southeast to Zagora, along the celebrated Valley of the Draa, the other projecting eastward through an equally celebrated valley, that of the Dades, which is solid with crumbling kasbahs. We chose the latter. Five minutes after we were on the road, it became clear to us–if we needed to know it–that indeed Africa is a continent of contrasts. We passed first a long line of camions (heavy trucks) carrying manganese, and then a stately camel caravan.”
Ouarzazate today has grown into a city of over 60,000. One of the most popular places to go at dusk is Place Al Mohadine which is home to Ouarzazate’s largest, local outdoor market that sells everything from spices to rose water and a charming cafe named Habous.
Inhabited by Berbers, in the past Ouarzazate was a point for African traders passing in and out of Morocco. During the French era, it was a garrison town. Ouarzazate today is the center of the Moroccan film industry, and the starting point for most Sahara Desert tours, as well as being the closest city to the kasbah Ait Benhaddou.
Some famous films that were shot at Ait Benhaddou Kasbah include the Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.
For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
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