The Most Beautiful Earthen Village : Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou

These are the Atlas Mountains in Central Morocco. They are over 3000 metres above sea level. This was the homeland of the Berber tribes of North Africa. Over 1,000 fortified villages are scattered in the areas valleys and on hillsides. Ait-Ben-Haddou is believed to be the best-preserved and most beautiful village remaining.

People, in the 7th century, started to settle in this oasis area to escape the Arab Muslim occupation of Northern Morocco. An emblem engraved on the wall of this tower proudly proclaims the Berber people as free. Theres plenty of evidence of the wisdom of people whove survived fierce battles. These labyrinth-like passages prevent invaders from making a coordinated attack and advancing into the city. Entrances to buildings hardly have any windows and are kept very dark. The idea was that any intruders would lose their bearings on entering the property and could be attacked before their eyes became used to the dark.

The head of the tribe used to live in this high-rise building. Holes were used as gun emplacements. Seven families currently live here. However, theres no electricity or water supply. Its a way of life that has remained unchanged for the past 500 years. This woman is making a traditional Berber bread known as Agrum. Its made from dough baked on the inside of a heated stone oven. They are beautifully baked. Her husband is fixing the wall. The earthen walls are 50 centimetres thick and keep the room temperature comfortably cool, even in conditions of extreme heat over 40 degrees centigrade. Exposed earthen walls can deteriorate over time. The building can be ruined without constant repair work.

The village was built 500 years ago. Its adobe walls continue to preserve and protect a quiet way of life.

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