Ouarzazate, Zagora and Tinghir in the east of Morocco represent the country's cultural diversity. They bear witness to the most deeply seated traditions, but contemporary creations are also honored with nods to some of cinema's finest hours.
Ouarzazate is one of the gateways to the desert. The Tifoultoute Kasbah stands guard just outside the city. Film buffs will recognize these landscapes: this is where David Lean shot "Lawrence of Arabia". The movies rule in Ouarzazate: its studios were used for "Babel" with Brad Pitt, "The Jewel of the Nile" with Michael Douglas, "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Martin Scorsese, "Tea in the Sahara" with John Malkovich, "Gladiator" and "Kingdom of Heaven" by Ridley Scott, and many other internationally known productions.
Other aspects of Moroccan heritage are also worth a visit in the region, such as the Aït Beck ksar (fortress), which towers above the Ounila valley. Its structures are built into the side of a hill right up to its summit, where an old granary still stands. A bit further in Imadri, you can visit cliff dwellings. Finally, look to the Draa valley for Tamgrout, where another village carved into the same rock is home to one of the country's oldest and most famous Koranic libraries. Some of the manuscripts stored here are nearly 1,000 years old!
Tinghir and Zagora also have plenty of attractions. In Tinghir, you can walk through the Aït El Haj mellah. Along narrow streets between the shade of adobe walls and ocher-tinged light, explore the old Jewish quarter and a slice of the city's past. The atmosphere around Zagora is totally different. Go as far back as prehistoric times at Tazzarine, where rocks bear inscriptions that are 5,000 years old and attest to the country's many millennia of history.
Rock carvings, majestic kasbahs and Hollywood studios... Morocco is most assuredly a land of contrasts!
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