Ait Benhaddou, Morocco © Donar Reiskoffer
Ait Benhaddou is an ancient fortified city (ksar) situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It is certainly one of the most breathtaking tourist attractions in Morocco and one that all travellers need to experience for themselves. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ait Benhaddou is not only an important historical area that stands as a record of Maghreb architectural practices, but aesthetically is so immediately evocative of the most romantic visions of medieval Arabian cities that visitors will likely be left pinching themselves to ensure that the vision before them is not merely a dream. The buildings, constructed against a mountain and surrounded by steep defensive walls, are all built from moulded earth and clay brick, and the sight of them, ornamented with decorative motifs and blood-red in the evening light, is so stirring that Ait Benhaddou has long been featured in Hollywood films (from Lawrence of Arabia to Gladiator). Providing some picture-perfect examples of kasbahs and medinas, no trip to Morocco would be quite complete without a stop in Ait Benhaddou. Whatever you do, don't forget to take a camera along. The city is most picturesque at sunrise and sunset when it glows bright orange.