the sun king

King Louis the 14th of France, the Sun King

May 2104


ait ben haddou

I’m posting this photo because I am a little in love with the accidental tilt-shift, dollhouse effect I got by shooting historic Ait Ben Haddou from above. Despite its movie-model look this is, in fact, a real place. For a sense of the scale you can see some people in the middle right of the photo, and in the middle bottom some clothes are hanging outside a shop.

The Ksar Ait Ben Haddou is a UNESCO world heritage site located near Ouarzazate in Morocco. It sits in a valley near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains on an ancient caravan trading route. It is a city made entirely of clay that has somehow managed to survive for centuries, and is an absolutely extraordinary example of a southern Moroccan architecture. It was one of the places I most looked forward to seeing in Morocco and it did not disappoint.

ait ben haddou motorcycle
The old and the new

While most of it’s residents have long since relocated to the nearby town or to more modern structures across the river, a few families who have lived in Ait Ben Haddou for generations have been granted the right to continue living within the walls – some making a living selling art and hand-crafted textiles to tourists.

ait ben haddou woman
Showing off her beautifully carved door
ait ben haddou textiles
Textile shop

I was a little embarrassed to be almost as fascinated by the many movies and TV shows that have been shot in Ait Ben Haddou as I was by its history. Amongst numerous others, it was featured in Lawrence of Arabia, Sodom and Gomorrah,  The Jewel of the Nile, 007: The Living Daylights, The Last Temptation of the Christ, The Mummy, Gladiator, Babel, and, my personal favorite, Game of Thrones (where it was used as the slaving city of Yunkai).

ait ben haddou
Ait Ben Haddou from outside the gates

A shot I wished I’d gotten is from the ground outside the front gates looking up at the city. Where the Khaleesi stood when she first arrived. Ok, enough geek.

May 2014