thumbnail At the gates of the  ksar
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At the gates of the ksar  © Alex Cimbal/Shutterstock
At the eastern edge of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Aït Benhaddou stands suspended in time. The mud-brick "ksar" (fortified city) was first built roughly 1,000 years ago, catering to travelers along the former caravan route between the Sahara desert and the city of Marrakesh. As a prime example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture, Aït Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. It"s no longer teeming with the large numbers of people who once lived there. But there are small markets and a few families within the city who cater to the visitors who come to walk its historic streets. As a symbol of Morocco"s enduring history, Aït Benhaddou would be a fine place to reflect upon the events of January 11, 1944, when Moroccan nationalists issued a public proclamation calling for the independence of their country, an audacious action that sparked the movement that would end colonialism by 1956.