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Aït Benhaddou

Aït Benhaddou  is a historic ighrem or ksar (fortified village) along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
The site of the ksar has been fortified since the 11th century during the Almoravid period. None of the current buildings are believed to date from before the 17th century, but they were likely built with the same construction methods and designs as had been used for centuries before.The site’s strategic importance was due to its location in the Ounila Valley along one of the main trans-Saharan trade routes.The Tizi n’Tichka pass, which was reached via this route, was one of the few routes across the Atlas Mountains, crossing between Marrakech and the Dra’a Valley on the edge of the Sahara. Other kasbahs and ksour were located all along this route, such as the nearby Tamdaght to the north.
Today, the ksar itself is only sparsely inhabited by several families.The depopulation over time is a result of the valley’s loss of strategic importance in the 20th century. Most local inhabitants now live in modern dwellings in the village on the other side of the river, and make a living off agriculture and especially off the tourist trade.