Capturing Morocco’s Magical But Forgotten Desert Towns
Think dreamy landscapes and pastel pink architecture
Sarah Ben Romdane
The first time 29-year-old photographer Ignacio Bandera went to Morocco, it was very spontaneous. “A friend of mine told me she was going, and I literally just decided to book a ticket”, he says. In just over a year, he’ll be going for the third time to continue exploring lesser-known parts of the country and develop his photography project entitle The Promise.
As soon as Bandera landed in Marrakesh and Fez, respectively the first and second time he visited Morocco, he instantly escaped the crowds. “I can’t even explain it, but I’m always attracted to things from the past. That’s why I like forgotten, unknown towns”. So, he took to the road on his own and instinctively headed to Morocco’s remote, smaller towns.
It’s on the edge of the Sahara, in Rissani and Merzouga precisely, that Bandera felt mesmerized by the dreamy, pastel-drenched architecture and landscapes. “The colours and ambiance really inspired me”, he says. But what really caught the photographer’s attention were the unfinished, peculiar buildings he found along his way. “Sometimes you find a random building in the middle of nowhere, and then you’ll find one without windows for example”, he explains. “To me, it felt like the promise of something that is coming, but you’re not sure what it is exactly or when it will arrive”.
In this region, far from the touristic bustle, Bandera felt tranquil. Despite the challenges he faced reaching these isolated towns, like that one time he was hitchhiking, and realised he was actually going in the opposite direction. Bandera has found himself lost in the middle of the motorway and had to sleep in a bug-ridden bed until daybreak – then there’s the language barrier… but despite all of this, the otherworldly energy of Morocco’s desert towns have continually captivated him: “Its crazy how everything feels different near the desert”.