from france to hollywood
Ouarzazate is not an old town... it was built by the French, for the legion etrangères - and then it was conquered by Hollywood. Obviously not because it is a pretty town. Nevertheless is not an ugly one either. What makes this town special is the amazing landscape that surrounds it: high snow-covered mountain, arid deserts and palm-filled oasis, enchanting casbahs (including a little one in town). Did you know that the first one to discover this town and surrounding area as a movie location was Joseph von Sternberg? And did you know that his protagonist was Marlène Dietrich? Well, these were the beginnings, before Hollywood took it over... Most films, but not all, are historical, in some way. Here are just some of the most famous titles: Lawrence of Arabia, the Mummy, Gladiator, the Jewel of the Nile, Alexander, Jesus of Nazareth. The ironic part is that in Ouarzazate there is no movie theatre.
It's a filmstudio almost in the desert and is famous for some internationnaly known movies that were filmed there.
When you talk to someone in Ourzazate, believe him when he says he acted in one of the movies. Hiring local people is very good and cheap for the foreign companies...
When we were there, they just finished Kingdom of Heaven
see the excellent views from the top of the kasbah
I had run around trying to see everything there was to see available around the Taourirt kasbah and when i asked the guy sitting at the entrance he said yes id seen everything and then asked if id been up 'that way' pointing to another set of stairs but with a sign 'administration'.
and what a precious bonus that i might have had the misfortune of missing!! the most amazing views around the valley, the blue water of the barrage, and around the surrounding ksar/old town area!! stunning!!
all these visits to Ouarzazate and i had no idea what beautiful views to be seen from here!!
so dont miss this unless you must!!
Welcome to Mollywood!
Ouarzazate is the film centre of Morocco. Gladiator, Alexander the Great, Kundun, Jewel of the Nile... all have had parts filmed here at the Atlas film studios and the list goes on. It's also the new jewel in the crown of Moroccan tourism and is being heavily promoted with new developments and direct flights from Europe. So Ouarzazate is the country's glamour capital, where you can bump into Hollywood stars while you stroll down palm-tree avenues, sip tea, party in wild nightclubs and live it up in the luxury hotels? The Moroccan Los Angeles, right?
Well, err, no actually. The first thing I noticed here was the overwhelming silence - this is one of the quietest and most placid cities I've ever been to. Quite why it's being so heavily hyped up I'm not sure. True the location is ideal, close to the trekking areas of the Atlas Mountains, but there's nothing to really see in the city other than the deservedly famous and impressive Taourirt Kasbah. The city was created by the French colonialists as an administrative centre and that seems to have been its sole reason for being.
So it's not exactly the vibrant city you might expect, and there's little to see, but it's still a likeable little place. There are plenty of friendly locals and tea shops to sit in and chat and pass a few hours. There are wide French-style, tree-lined boulevards, and ochre coloured buildings. And the magnificent kasbah is one of the largest in the region.