The ksar, a cluster of earthen structures enclosed by high walls, is a traditional southern Moroccan habitat prior to the Saharan era.
Houses are densely packed together within the defensive walls, which are further fortified by corner towers. Ait-Ben-Haddou in Ouarzazate province is an impressive example of Moroccan architecture.
The ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is situated in the Ounila Valley in the foothills of the High Atlas in Ouarzazate Province.
The site is the most famous in the valley and most famous in the southern part of Morocco.
The defensive walls of the ksar, which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced by a baffle gate, are packed with houses of various sizes, from small to large urban castles with high angle towers and clay brick decorations, in addition to buildings and community areas.
A panoramic view of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques, including their early origins, is provided by the ksar's buildings. The oldest structures, thought to be established between the 17th and the early 18th centuries, are similar in structure and technique to those in southern Morocco's valleys.
The settlement, among other trading posts, was on the old commercial route linking ancient Sudan to Marrakesh via the Dra Valley and Tizi-n-Telouet Pass.
A compact collection of living spaces is enclosed and suspended.
The community areas of the ksar include a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification, a loft on top of the village, an caravan terminal, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish), and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer.
The Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is a harmonious combination of ancient Saharan architecture.
The ksar is accessible through a river which is entirely dry in summer but the route provides an opportunity to appreciate the overall structure.
Near the river and the ksar, there is a small palm grove, where people once cultivated vegetables and fruit trees.