Travel & Life Digest

Ouarzazate Kasbah - The Gateway To The Sahara

This is one of my favourite photos of the whole trip to Morocco; Standing in the Kasbah dinning room, listening to stories about Caravans and sailing the Sahara!
Ouarzazate is the last big city you meet before going into the Sahara. That's why caravans have come here for centuries to get supplies, which they would then use to trade with, during their encounters in the desert. 
The Pasha of Ouarzazate, controlled a strategic point on the edge of the Sahara, with links to the Atlas mountains and Marrakech. The Kasbah, his palace, still stands, with its' red mud walls and simple interiors. Only a few of the rooms are decorated though, we were told that even when the Kasbah was in full use only rugs and low furniture would have been used.
The dinning room walls are covered in blue and white tiles, the Pasha's lounge is adorned with a wooden green painted ceiling and the Pasha's first wife's chambers are also decorated with colourful wooden ceilings. The rest of the rooms are left white. Some low passages take you to the Pasha's lounge..."why so low" I asked..."prepares you to bow to the Pasha" I was told!  
Up until a few years ago caravans from South Morocco would be able to travel the Sahara freely, to Algeria, Mali and Mauritania. Sadly, this is no longer possible as Morocco is trying to protect its' borders. Still, this is the stuff movies are made of: nomads of the moving sand, Bedouins and Touaregs - the blue people of the Sahara - extended families living together in oasis, proud of their hospitality and keen to trade. 
The Kasbah stands in the centre of Ouarzazate, a great example of traditional south Moroccan architecture.
A courtyard, in the heart of the Kasbah, loved the colours; pink-reddish walls, changing as the sunlight moved and clear blue skies.

Film studios in the desert? Well yes! Tom Cruiz, Samuel L Jackson, Jake Gyllenhall and so on, have all been here apparently. Our guide just couldn't stop himself from namedropping the whole time we were walking through the Kasbah. He claimed to have worked in many famous movies as an extra, too!
"You know...Alexander the Great was here?" he said to me.
"I wasn't aware that Alexander came all the way to Morocco" said I.
"Yes! Colin Farrell", he quickly said, smirking away. Cheeky. 

Just across from the Kasbah's entrance we spotted the top of a church with a cross, right next to the minaret tower of a mosque. Intrigued? They were props for movie sets! Made out of pre-fabricated material, standing there to confuse visitors since the 80's.

This window looks out of the Kasbah's dinning room.
I stood there looking at the rooftops, thinking that it all looks so familiar; it can't be off course, I've never been here before. And yet!
Well, these very rooftops were used in filming the Prince of Persia movie! Hence the familiar feeling!

What a lovely way to finish off our daytrip from Marrakech. As we were leaving the Kasbah, the heavy gates were closing behind us. Time for our four-hour drive back to Marrakech.  

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