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|Elevation||3,776 ft (1,151 m)|
|Elevation||3,776 ft (1,151 m)|
Ouarzazate (Berber: ⵡⴰⵔ ⵣⴰⵣⴰⵝ Warzazat, Arabic: ورزازات, lit. "noiselessly"), nicknamed The door of the desert, is a city and capital of Ouarzazate Province in the Souss-Massa-Drâa of southern-central Morocco. Ouarzazate is at an elevation of 1,160 metres (3,810 ft) in the middle of a bare plateau south of the High Atlas Mountains. To the south of the town is the desert.
The town is chiefly inhabited by Berbers, who constructed many of the prominent kasbahs and buildings for which the area is known. Ouarzazate is an important holiday destination in Morocco, as a base for excursions across the Draa Valley and into the desert. The fortified village (ksar) of Ait Benhaddou west of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ouarzazate area is a noted film-making location, with Morocco's biggest studios inviting many international companies to work here. Films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Living Daylights (1987), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Kundun (1997), Legionnaire (1998), Hanna (2011), and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) were shot here, as was part of the TV series Game of Thrones.
Its name comes from a Berber phrase meaning "without noise" or "without confusion".
For a long time, Ouarzazate was a small crossing point for African traders on their way to northern Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town, administrative centre and customs post. It is home to the kasbah of Taourirt, which was the casbah of the former caïd and later owned by T'hami El Glaoui. The Krupp field gun which secured Glaoui power is displayed outside the kasbah today.
The area is also known for its Ouazguita carpets with geometric designs of red-orange on black background.
The town is hot and dry in summer, but can be very cold in winter, with icy winds coming from the High Atlas Mountains.
|Climate data for Ouarzazate|
|Average high °C (°F)||16|
|Average low °C (°F)||1|
|Precipitation mm (inches)||8|
|Source: Weatherbase |
Atlas Studios is one of the largest movie studios in the world. Several historical movies were shot here, including Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Kingdom of Heaven and Babel. It was also the location of an episode of the television series The Amazing Race 10.
The kasbah-town of Aït Benhaddou is nearby. Many excursions through the valley of the Draa River into the Sahara start from the city. These include trips to Zagora, an oasis town surrounded by palm tree plantations and a departure point for camel trains to Timbuktu, a journey that would take about 52 days. These days the border to Algeria is closed, stopping the Timbuktu route.
Detailed maps are hard to obtain in Morocco. The French IGN mapping at a 1:100,000 scale has been reproduced by the Moroccan Division de la carte. These maps are often out of date and obtained with special permission in Rabat. Soviet mapping on a 1:200,000 scale is available on the Internet, but these are generally outdated and show the names of places in Cyrillic letters.
A new series of maps are available, including the EWP and WCP (2008). Ouarzazate Region (Map). 1:160,000 Map and Guide. Atlas Mountains Morocco. Cartography by EWP (1st ed.). ISBN 978-0-906227-99-2. http://www.ewpnet.com/maps/HI.htm.
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