Theme Week Algeria – Ghardaïa

Thursday, 28 September 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Taguelmoust/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Taguelmoust/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ghardaïa is the capital city of Ghardaïa Province. The commune of Ghardaïa has a population of 93,000, with an annual growth rate of 0.7%. It is located in northern-central Algeria in the Sahara Desert and lies along the left bank of the Wadi Mzab. The M’zab valley in the Ghardaïa Province (Wilaya) was inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982. The unique layout of the Ghardaïa village is dictated by the rocky terrain of the region. Apart from the mosques and the housing pattern layout, with the mosque at the top of the hill, and the houses laid in labyrinthine alleyways, there is also a large market centre. The houses in particular are oriented in such a way that it admits sunlight into every as they strongly believe: “Inhabitants of the house where sun comes in will never see a doctor”. Chimneys are also set in such a way that they do not encroach their neighbours comfort.

Ghardaïa is part of a pentapolis, a hilltop city amongst four others, built almost a thousand years ago in the M’Zab valley. It was founded by the Mozabites, a Muslim Ibadi sect of non-Arabic Muslims, including the Berbers. It is a major centre of date production and the manufacture of rugs and cloths. Divided into three walled sectors, it is a fortified town. At the centre is the historical Mʾzabite area, with a pyramid-style mosque and an arcaded square. Distinctive white, pink, and red houses, made of sand, clay and gypsum, rise in terraces and arcades. In her 1963 book, La force des choses the French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir described Ghardaïa as “a Cubist painting beautifully constructed”.

Local berber architecture © flickr.com - PhR61/cc-by-2.0 © Addounya © panoramio.com - oulad ali abdelrazak/cc-by-sa-3.0 Quartier Melika © Habib kaki/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Taguelmoust/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Yelles/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Local berber architecture © flickr.com - PhR61/cc-by-2.0
Ghardaïa is a major centre of date production, with nearly 60,000 palm trees producing dates. The wood of dead palms is used to make house roofs; live trees are not killed as they are considered living beings that sustain the inhabitants. Another important industry is the manufacture of rugs and cloths.Ghardaïa is renowned for its coarse goat hair carpets, generally with simple geometric patterns in black and white. Metlili-Chaamba is known for its “Deglet Nour” dates and its camel hair products. One important aspect of the social life and economic values of the people of the region is that begging and theft are non-existent in the community. The society is close-knit, and all aspects of economy and social customs are dictated by the community.

The residents have preserved the original medieval architecture remarkably well; the valley of which it forms being a part of an official World Heritage Site. The Medabian quarter lies to the northwest. The military compound and hospital are located in the southern area. It is given the epithet “the pearl of the oasis” and is as one of the most important tourist regions for its ancient cultural heritage in southern Algeria. Apart from the tourism interests, the Wilaya of Ghardaïa also draws anthropologists, architects, researchers and historians to explore its rich cultural, anthropological and architectural uniqueness. An interesting aspect of their community welfare is the fact that they follow the rules of governance diligently and also contribute to the maintenance and care of the community. Mozabites in the light of their rigid approach in negotiations, dominate the financial sector, particularly in banking and wholesale sectors They also have their own mosque, cemetery, recreation and sporting activities. They have a patriarchal system of social inheritance. Another unique feature among the Mozabites is that right from birth a “Mozabite is looked after by the community for education, work, marriage, and the building of a home. Touiza (groups of volunteers) are organised for building houses.” The Wilaya of Ghardaïa is also well known for its Weaving, Dinanderie D’art, basketry, pottery and carpet weaving (tapestry). The rugs of the area so popular that every year the “National Day Of Rugs” is held in March. The Mozabites of Ghardaïa have their distinct identity of traditional costume of saroual loubia (baggy trousers) and chéchia (head gear). Every spring, the commune of Metlili-Chaamba, 31.3 km (19.4 mi) from Ghardaïa, celebrates the “Day mehr” when people from all over the country attend and participate in a camel race. In March and April, a carpet festival provides an opportunity for celebration, competition, as well as sales.

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Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Ghardaïa and Wikipedia Ghardaïa. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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