Exploring Tafilalet Palace: The Exquisite Eco-City in Algeria

Ksar Tafilelt (in Arabic قصر تافيلالت) is an Algerian city located in the Wilaya of Ghardaïa, renowned for its ecological design.

The city is situated 600 km south of Algiers, on the fringes of the Sahara, near the historic city of Beni Isguen. It perches atop a plateau overlooking the Mzab valley.

The concept of constructing an ecological city emerged in the 1990s in response to a housing crisis and the extensive construction of concrete housing. In 1997, Ahmed Nouh established the Amidoul Foundation. He purchased a 22-hectare (0.22 km²) plot of land from the state and spearheaded the project, offering interest-free loans for house purchases.

The first housing allocations occurred in 2000. The project aimed to address the housing crisis, primarily affecting impoverished and young populations lacking access to affordable housing. Families, as well as women with dependent children or parents, were given priority.

By 2013, the city’s population reached 6,000 inhabitants, residing in one thousand houses.

In 2014, the city received the Arab League Prize for the Environment.

In November 2016, during COP 22 in Marrakech, the city was awarded the first prize for a sustainable city.

The city’s 6,000 inhabitants are predominantly Mozabites following the Ibadi sect of Islam. A charter mandates “touiza,” or participation in communal work, such as construction or cleanliness.

The houses are organized into blocks of 28 to 30 houses, with each block responsible for cleanliness on a rotational basis.

Tafilalet Palace, a Typical Eco-City in Algeria:

Tourism is a rapidly growing sector worldwide, noted for its positive impact on various social, economic, and cultural aspects. In Algeria, desert tourism has become an important economic and social option, marked by its natural and environmental diversity. It is considered an alternative development model aimed at achieving sustainable development.

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Ghardaïa is renowned for its architecture and numerous palaces, including Ksar Ghardaïa, Bannoura, Al Qarara, Brian, Taginet (currently known as Kindness), and Malika. Beni Yazqn is among the five palaces in Ghardaïa classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Tafilalet Palace, situated in Beni Isguen, Ghardaïa Province, sits atop a rocky summit in the Mzab region of the northern Algerian desert.

This palace embodies a unique human experience in Africa, combining authentic architecture, sustainable development, and environmental preservation. The city, an ancient historical heritage, maintains its originality while safeguarding the region’s fragile environment, renowned for its palm oases.

Tafilalet Palace in Beni Isguen, Ghardaïa Province, is a must-visit destination:

It was constructed using traditional architecture with stone, gypsum, and lime, rather than the cement that deformed the 1000-year-old oasis of Azgen. These materials were chosen for their good insulation against heat and external noise and their affordability.

The palace includes a thousand and fifty one-story houses, all built according to local architecture with modern amenities. While painted in natural colors like shades of yellow, brown, and white suitable for high temperatures, the windows are designed with wood mesh to maintain privacy and provide natural ventilation. In summer, the temperature difference between inside and outside can reach 5 degrees.

Daily life inside the Tafilalet Palace has a distinctive character

The region operates under laws and regulations covering various aspects of life, including neighborliness and wedding celebrations. A charter, signed by all residents, serves as the guiding framework for the city.

Interestingly, the city functions without a need for a police force or judicial council. This unique characteristic stems from mutual agreement and organization among the residents. The community, built on a strong sense of collective responsibility and cooperation, helps maintain peace and harmony within the city.

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This aspect sets the Tafilalet Palace apart from many other cities worldwide, demonstrating the effectiveness of a self-governing model built on trust, consensus, and shared values.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
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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