Rising from the middle of a high plain between the High Atlas and the Anti Atlas Mountains, and to the south-east of Marrakesh, is Ouarzazate, the gate of the desert as some nickname it, for it is the city by which pass those heading towards the desert. It used to be a safe resting place for trade caravans on their way to the north of Morocco, making it a very strategic association between south and north, and during the French colonization it was used as military barracks to suppress the Berber rebellious tribes. Ouarzazate is said to be the land of contradictions as it contains barren desert, lush oasis, snow-covered peaks and arid valleys, the most famous of which is called ‘Thirst Valley’.
Concerning Climate, it’s hot in summer, but very cold in winter with chill winds. This town is of a crucial cultural interest because of its historical unique architectural design. In terms of architecture, it behoves us to mention the Kasbah of Taourirt, an imposing and ancient adobe structure that played the role of a defensive castle, and as the rest of Moroccan Kasbahs, like Ait Ben Haddou, it includes rooms, a mosque and public yards. At the corner of one of these yards exists a German cannon whose history dates back to 1884.
The architectural properties of the old walls and the ceilings are beautifully preserved despite ancientness. This preservation clearly appears in the three colors that have not faded away yet: yellow derived from yolk, red from henna and green from mint. It’s no wonder that the city seems to be dozy amid the Atlas Mountains at first sight, but it will prove you wrong as soon as you discover that two film studios were founded there: The CLA and Atlas. The latter, which was founded in 1983, is more important, bigger, and better equipped. Atlas, one of the largest studios in the world, is the destination of many film directors and producers who were charmed by the wide variety of this region’s terrain: deserts, green oasis and snowy mountains. Thus, dozens of films were shot there, including: Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, The Living Daylights, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Babel and Kingdom of Heaven, in addition to many other French, American, Spanish, Italian, Korean and Brazilian films. The majority of these films are Historical, which means that they crucially rely on the features of bare plains and old buildings which Ouarzazate area couldn’t deprive them of.
Famed for its diversity, Ouarzazate is an impressive matrix of cherished traditions, various ethnic groups, rich vegetation, and assorted landscaped. At times it feels like it was built just to fill in the gap between these elements, and probably, to complete its quietness as the name indicates, the noiseless town.