Friday, April 27, 2012

The Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou

When I was a child, we had a long playing record labeled 'Music for an Arabian Night.' The melodies contained in the record were so fascinating and amazing that we brothers would play it agaian and agaian to enjoy the recreated melodies played in western style by the then famous musician Ron Goodwin. Some of my favourites were 'The moon and I,  Return to Paradise and Arab Feast, Old Beirut and the Barefoot Girl.'

The jacket cover of the LP Music for an Arabian Night by Ron Goodwin
The Arab world has its own mysteries and life, which is unique and almost obscure from the rest of the world. The Arab music, culture, traditions and even architectures is most fascinating, awesome and dreamy. Although the present day Arab world has been westernized, the real life still continues in the deserts amid clumps of date trees, with camels moving about and their neck bells ringing and a strange aura that seems to have filled up the environment and one can feel that there is something special about the place.

Talking of the Arab architecture, one comes across magnificent mud plastered castles surrounded with date trees as one can see in films like the Prince of Persia, The Pearl of Nile, Jesus of Nazareth and many Hollywood films. But have you ever wondered where are these magnificent castles and building actually located?

One of the fortified town that figures out prominently in the Hollywood films is the Ait Ben Haddou - Ksar (fortified town) in southern Morocco, 29 kilometers north-west of Ouarzazate. Since 1987 under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Now scroll down and a familiar site will start to unfold, specially if you have a flare of mystic Arab world and its architecture.

Ait Ben Haddou is located on the left bank of Ouarzazate on the hillside. The valley of the river passes through the wilderness river begins on the southern slopes of the High Atlas and subsequently lost in the sands of the Sahara. She ran along the caravan route from Marrakech through Zagora to Timbuktu. 
 Ksar presumably originated in the XI century to protect the caravanroute. After the trans-Saharan trade of importance was in decline, the population gradually moved to a new village on the opposite (right) side of the river. By the 1990s, was in Ksar ruinirovannom state, lived there only ten families. In recent years, is being restored, it is supposed toturn into a tourist center of Ksar and place it in the galleries.

For the Hollywood filmmakers, the Ksar is one of the extremely popular as a place of movies in varying degrees, using oriental subjects. Some of the famous movies that were filmed here include:

  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
  • Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
  • Time Bandits (1981)
  • Jewel of the Nile (1985)
  • The Living Daylights (1987)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
  • The Sheltering Sky (1990)
  • Kundun (1997)
  • The Mummy (1999)>br> Gladiator (2000)
  • Alexander (2004)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (film) (2010)

Ksar Ait Ben Haddou is one of the most typical examples of traditional Moroccan clay architecture prevalent in predsaharskoy area south of the High Atlas. All the houses are built of Ksara red-brown clay. Houses with flat roofs are located on the hillside terraces, the streets are horizontally connected by arches and narrow passages. 

In Ksar has four inputs, two free (far left and far right) and two toll. Free entry leads through a gate in the wall, while the charge passed through the home and belong to two families, one of the entrances to the museumis

Reference / photographs Courtesy: Funzug
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