For centuries, people from the Atlas, Drâa and Dadès Valleys converged to do business at Ouarzazate’s sprawling Taourirt Kasbah, and a modern garrison town was established here in the 1920s
to oversee France’s colonial interests. The movie business gradually took off in Ouarzazate after the French protectorate left in the 1950s, and ‘Ouallywood’ movie studios have built quite a résumé providing convincingly exotic backdrops for movies supposedly set in Tibet, ancient Rome, Somalia and Egypt.
Unlike other Glaoui kasbahs, Taourirt
escaped ruin by moonlighting as a Hollywood backdrop (Sheltering Sky, Gladiator, Prince of Persia ) and attracting the attention of Unesco,
which has carefully restored small sections of the inner sanctum. Follow the maze of stairwells to the top floor,
where you’ll find a prayer room through keyhole archways, traces of stucco and an original tataoui ceiling. Wander through the village inside the kasbah walls, and you might also find deals on local crafts in backstreet shops.