Discover Palaces of the Mzab Valley


The Mzab or M’zab is a Berber- speaking region in the north of the Algerian Sahara , from Ghardaïa in  the 55th wilaya km south of Algiers (441  km as the crow flies). It extends over approximately 8,000  square kilometers and is home to more than 200,000 inhabitants (2008 census).

The Mzab is a plateau crossed by a wadi of the same name. Its valley served as a refuge for Ibadite Muslims who built five cities ( pentapolis ) there in the 11th century  , then two cities further north.

The Mzab Valley, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage , it has a rich and original architectural heritage. Its main city is Ghardaïa , capital of the homonymous wilaya.

Originally, the Mzab was a set of five ksours ( Pentapolis ) 600  km south of Algiers , built in the 11th  century :

  • Ghardaïa  : founded in the 11th century the right bank of the M’zab wadi and upstream from the four other centers of the Pentapolis, this city quickly became the commercial capital of the Mzab;
  • Beni Isguen , considered a holy city of Mzab;
  • El Atteuf  : the oldest town in the M’zab, founded in 1012, it is located at the downstream end of the Pentapolis and detached from the other ksour;
  • Melika  : the ancient holy city which dominates the Mzab valley;
  • Bounoura  : near Ghardaïa.

And two more recent isolated cities, further north  :

  • Berriane  : founded in 1660 50  km north of Ghardaïa;
  • El Guerrara  : founded in the 17th century  , it is the most eccentric of the towns of Mzab, 100  km from Ghardaïa.

Urbanization in the region was established by the reproduction of the model of the ksar with the palm grove . Today, the extensions of the city of Ghardaïa have ended up joining those of the other cities of the Pentapolis, the urbanization has spread over the whole of the valley to the detriment of the palm groves, the Pentapolis now constitutes a vast elongated conurbation over 8  km 39 .

The Mozabite cities have experienced classification and reclassification over the centuries. Thus, El Atteuf, the founder does not draw legitimacy from her antecedent and Ghardaïa, because of its commercial activity, becomes the “opulent” city of the pentapolis . Beni Isguen, acquired the status of the “learned” city, the guardian of the Ibadi “dogma” , while Melika, who allied with the Chaamba , earned the reputation of “quarrelsome” and lost her religious status. Bounoura, modest residence, victim of tensions between factions and El Guerrara, the more remote city becomes the “city of dissidence”

Discover Taghardait (Ghardaia)

Taghardait (Ghardaia) best visit place, one among the palaces of the M’zab Valley  500 kilometers south of Algeria

Palaces of the Mzab Valley

 overlooks mud palaces of quite 1000 years old from a rocky plateau. This area of ​​the state of Ghardaia is understood because the M’zab Valley, which is assessed as a world heritage by the “UNESCO” organization, and these palaces represent one among the masterpieces of engineering within the world.  * The Holy Trio *   The palaces mean villages within the local language, and therefore the palaces of the M’zab Valley are far aside from one another, but their architecture is that the same, as its philosophy is predicated on a “sacred triad”: the mosque, the market and therefore the house because the centers during which the human moves. the primary thing that’s inbuilt the palace is that the mosque, during which people gather, so you discover one mosque in every palace, then comes the market, and it’s the backbone of the economy in every palace and in it people also gather, and therefore the engineers made sure that the market is on the brink of the mosque so as to form it easier for traders and shoppers  Prayer.   Then the homes come and that they are similar in design, so their walls are high and that they are open from the within, so as to permit air and lightweight to flow, in order that they don’t need lamps or coolers except during a only a few times, and therefore the houses are designed very closely, which makes the alleys somewhat narrow, and therefore the houses are cold  Summer and warm winter. 

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Discover Palaces of the Mzab Valley

 * The seven palaces *   The Tajnent Palace is that the oldest of the seven palaces, and its name means the low place, the second palace is at Bunur and is attributed to the Al-Masabi tribe, which built and inhabited the town within the past. At Bunur is distinguished by being built on a really impregnable mound of rock.   The third of the palaces is Tegrdait, which is that the first city to be seen upon arrival from the north and is understood today as Ghardaia, the fourth of the palaces is at Isejn, which is one among the capitals of the scientific and non secular heritage, which preserved its authenticity and its wall still standing today, and therefore the fifth may be a palace coming to Melisht and it’s located on a high plateau between Tardajit and are available Ezgen, the viewer from her can see Thethe palaces of Tegerdait, Aate Ezgen and Ait Bonnur. (sixth palace is Tigrar, mentioned as al-Qarara, meaning the oval mountains bordered by small plains during which the water settles, and it had been built on muddy land) unlike other palaces built on Rockies and famous for its vast oasis, and eventually, the Palace of Ibergan, referred to as Barrian. aside from these palaces, which are still vibrant with life, many other palaces have ceased to exist and became ruins, among them: Fine we were deceived, and that i fell crazy with Ouedai, Morki and Baba Saad.  

Palaces of the Mzab Valley

 * Mzab in celebrity writings *   The scholar Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldun wrote in his book “The Lesson and therefore the Divan of the start and therefore the News” on the Mzab Valley, and among the mentions of “the palaces of Musab (Mzab), its inhabitants of this era from Bani Abd al-Wad, Bani Tujin, Musab, and Bani Zardal, among those that joined them from the peoples of Zenata, albeit their fame is exclusive.  Infected. ”   As for the French orientalist Cluj Pavard, he was dazzled by the sweetness of the M’zab Valley, and he described it in his book “Lights of M’zab”, saying, (I visited M’zab at the beginning of this year one among the seventies, then returned to him within the spring, then went twice within the summer. Mzab features a special charm that pulls me from the depths of Paris. As a photographer, I even haven’t seen all of the countries of the West more beautiful than Mzab ).The French engineer André River , born in 1919, was influenced by the architecture of the palaces of the M’zab Valley, so he wrote his book entitled “Mzab studied in architecture,” and from what came within the book, “When i’m going to the Gutter Valley I meditate and be silent.”

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The region is home to five ksours , located on a rocky outcrop along the Mzab wadi and known as the Pentapolis . These are Ghardaïa , the main city, Beni Isguen , Melika , Bounoura and El Atteuf . By adding the most recent cities of Berriane and El Guerrara.

The combination of a puritan functioning of the Ibadi faith with the way of life of the oases led to a strict organization of the territory. Each citadel was a sort of fortress- mosque , the minaret of which served as a guard tower. Houses of standard size and type were built in concentric circles around the mosque. The architecture of the Mozabite colonies was dedicated to equal community life, with respect for family intimacy. The constructions of the Mzab are of Berber style and have been replicated in other parts of the Sahara.

In summer, the Mozabites migrated to “summer citadels”, centered around palm oases. It is one of the major groups of oases in the Saharan desert, bordered by arid regions called chebka , crossed by dry riverbeds.

The Mzab Valley has been part of the World Heritage since 1982, as an intact example of traditional human habitat perfectly adapted to the environment:

“The landscape of the M’Zab valley, created in the 10th  century by the Ibadis around their five ksour, or fortified villages, seems to have remained intact. Simple, functional and perfectly adapted to the environment, the architecture of M’Zab was designed for community life, while respecting family structures. It is a source of inspiration for urban planners today. »

— Unesco

Among the saved sectors:

Ghardaïa  : old ksar; old mosque; current market place; old market place; underground mosque; watershed; irrigation system.

Beni-Isguen  : old ksar; Boulila tower; auction market.

Melika  : old ksar; Cheikh Sidi Aïssa cemetery.

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El Atteuf  : old ksar; Sheikh Ammi Brahim Mausoleum; marketplace .

Bounoura  : old ksar; mosque of the old ksar; forehead .

Apart from the pentapolis, the ksars of El Guerrara and Berriane are classified as national heritage, the classification perimeter also includes the surrounding oases .

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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