What does Ouarzazate mean?


Ouarzazate, whose name means “without noise” in Berber, is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the Drâa, the Wadi Dadès and the Wadi Imini. Nicknamed “the gateway to the desert” and located between the Atlas and the Sahara, it is the last major city for hundreds of kilometers around.

On the trans-Saharan route

The current city of Ouarzazate is relatively recent since it was built in 1928 by General Lyautey as a garrison town. But its origins are very distant, cave paintings and burial mounds attest to a presence since prehistoric times. The exact origin of the city remains a mystery. We know that the Berbers were the first inhabitants of the region and that the Jews and several sub-Saharan populations (the majority slaves) joined them.

Located at the crossroads of several oases, Ouarzazate and its surroundings have since the beginning played a strategic role in commercial and cultural exchanges between north and south Africa. After several wars and declines then Islamization in the 7th century, Ouarzazate became a nerve center for trade between Sudan, Sijilmassa and Marrakech. In the 17th century, the discovery of precious metals including gold in Ouarzazate boosted the development of the city and increased its regional influence. Then, gradually and thanks to the cities of the Atlantic coast and their ports, its activity diminished and the region plunged back into tribal wars.

A kasbah and cinema

The Ourzazate region is characterized by the presence of numerous adobe kasbahs, like the famous kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou. The city is no exception and also has its own raw earth construction, the Taourirt kasbah, built in the 17th century by the Berber Glaoui tribe. Located one kilometer from the center of Ouarzazate, this city fortification at the crossroads of two rivers and on a height attracted the famous pasha of Marrakech Thami el Glaoui to take up residence there. The building is fantastically imposing and reminiscent of the architecture of fortified castles. Don’t miss the elegant Pacha room!

With its desert climate, its scorching summers and its icy winters, Ouarzazate had nothing to please the cinema. But that was without counting on the sublime light which bathes it 300 days a year. An unparalleled light, thanks to the surrounding geological formations, the ocher and golden colors and this infinite horizon that nothing seems to hinder. Since the filming of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in 1954, the region has continued to attract filmmakers from around the world. More than forty films, including Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Tea in the Sahara, Hercules and Batman v Superman, have evolved in the splendid settings of Ouarzazate and its region. Moreover, one of the largest film studios in the world was created there in 1983, Atlas Studios. It is also possible to visit the cinema museum where costumes and sets are exhibited.


Meet Abdeljalil, a certified tour guide based in Ouarzazate, renowned for his extensive expertise. With a wealth of experience, Abdeljalil ensures memorable explorations of the region’s wonders. Trust him to lead you on an unforgettable journey through Ouarzazate

📞 Phone: +212614665772

📧 Email: booking@marrakech-desert-travel.com