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Morocco’s Ait-Ben-Haddou is a UNESCO World Heritage web-site that has served as the backdrop for quite a few videos
AIT-BEN-HADDOU, Morocco: Hundreds of thousands throughout the world could have witnessed the desert fortress in the hit fantasy collection “Game of Thrones”, but less know they can pay a visit to the Moroccan village of Ait-Ben-Haddou.
The fortified outdated settlement at the foot of the majestic Atlas mountains enchanted audiences in the HBO collection and also served as a dusty backdrop in Ridley Scott’s epic swords-and-sandals movie “Gladiator”.
But compared with other famous places from motion picture and television historical past, this Unesco World Heritage Web site has so considerably skipped out on a mass inflow of tourism — some thing some of its inhabitants are keen to adjust.
“Several men and women have told me that they arrived listed here to see the filming locale of ‘Game of Thrones’,” said Ahmed Baabouz, a regional tour guidebook. “There is tourism linked to cinema listed here but frankly we have not made it to the extent it could be.”
Ait-Ben-Haddou is southern Morocco’s most famous fortress. Time would seem to have stopped at the web-site overlooking a valley some thirty kilometres from the town of Ouarzazate.
Just after passing via the imposing entrance way, visitors navigate a labyrinth of winding alleys that eventually direct onto a public square where the settlement’s inhabitants when collected.
There is a mosque and two cemeteries — one particular for Muslims and one particular for Jews. Most inhabitants have prolonged since departed even though, with a few houses transformed into stalls offering handicrafts.
The fortress is an best movie placing, found a quick length from the studios of Ouarzazate, the “Mecca” of Moroccan cinema. Productions ranging from “Lawrence of Arabia” to “The Mummy” have been filmed listed here.
A lot more not long ago, scenes from the cult collection “Game of Thrones” were being shot at Ait-Ben-Haddou, with the web-site standing in for the fictional Yellow Town of Yunkai which is conquered by Daenerys Targaryen, a essential character in the “GOT” universe.
Hammadi, 61, is a privileged witness to the location’s cinematic historical past.
“All of these productions have contributed to the track record of the area,” he said, grinning widely.
Hammadi himself has appeared as an additional in a variety of movies. And although like most men and women he lives in a a lot more fashionable house in a village on the other side of the valley, he carries on to return to Ait-Ben-Haddou to welcome travelers.
-‘House of the Dragon’ –
On a wall at the entrance to Hammadi’s former house, shots bear witness to the initiatives he has worked on.
One particular reveals him dressed as an ancient Roman with director Ridley Scott on the established of “Gladiator”.
“We have a quite loaded cinematic heritage that we hope to use to bring in travelers,” said tour guidebook Baabouz, who is 29.
But “nothing implies that ‘Game of Thrones’ was shot listed here,” he included.
On Morocco’s Atlantic coastline, the metropolis of Essaouira also fashioned the backdrop to scenes from the collection.
But there also, Moroccan tourism promoters are nevertheless to capitalise on the connection.
In comparison, Northern Ireland, Malta and Dubrovnik in Croatia have captivated hordes of supporters from close to the globe, drawn by their links to the franchise.
To cure this, Baabouz and other youthful men and women in the village are pooling their confined assets in the direction of an ambitious challenge: a museum in the fortress, gathering pictures from the productions that have been filmed listed here.
US channel HBO has commissioned a prequel to “GOT”, called “House of the Dragon”. George R.R. Martin, the author of the publications on which the collection is based, wrote on his weblog that shooting would also choose position in Morocco.
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