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 is perched atop a plateau that overlooks the Mzab valley.
The concept of constructing an ecological city emerged in the 1990s as a response to a housing crisis and the extensive construction of concrete housing. In 1997, the Amidoul Foundation was established by Ahmed Nouh. 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 took place in 2000. The project aimed to address the housing crisis, primarily affecting impoverished and young populations lacking access to affordable housing. Priority was given to families, as well as women with dependent children or parents.
By 2013, the population of the city reached 6,000 inhabitants residing in one thousand houses.
In 2014, the city was awarded the Arab League Prize for the Environment.
In November 2016, during the COP 22 in Marrakech, the city received the first prize for the sustainable city.
The majority of the city’s 6,000 inhabitants are Mozabites following the Ibadi sect of Islam. A charter makes “touiza,” which refers to participation in communal work, such as construction or cleanliness, obligatory.
The houses are organized into blocks of 28 to 30 houses, with each block being responsible for cleanliness on a rotational basis.
The Tafilalet Palace, a typical eco-city in Algeria:
Tourism is a rapidly growing sector worldwide due to its positive impact on various social, economic, and cultural aspects. In Algeria, desert tourism has become an important economic and social option, distinguished by its natural and environmental diversity. It is considered an alternative development model aimed at achieving sustainable development.
Ghardaia is renowned for its architecture and numerous palaces, including Ksar Ghardaia, Bannoura, Al Qarara, Brian and Taginet (currently known as Kindness), and Malika. Beni Yazqn is one of the five palaces in Ghardaia classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Tafilalet Palace, situated in Beni Isguen, Ghardaia Province, is located atop a rocky summit in the Mzab region of northern Algerian desert.
This palace embodies a unique human experience in Africa by combining authentic architecture, sustainable development, and environmental preservation. The city appears as an ancient historical heritage with its originality, while safeguarding the fragile environment of the region renowned for its palm oases.
Tafilalet Palace in Beni Isguen, Ghardaia Province, is a must-visit place:
It was completed according to traditional architecture using stone, gypsum and lime, instead of the cement that deformed the 1000-year-old oasis of Azgen, and these materials were chosen because they provide good insulation from heat and external noise in addition to their low price.
The palace currently includes a thousand and fifty houses of one height, not exceeding a ground floor and an upper floor, all of which are built according to the local architecture with modern amenities. While the houses were painted in natural colors, which are the shades of yellow, brown and white suitable for high temperatures, the windows were designed from wood mesh to preserve the privacy of the homes and provide natural ventilation, as the difference between the internal and external temperature in summer reaches 5 degrees.
Tafilalet Palace in Beni Isguen, Ghardaia Province, is the best place to visit
Daily life inside the Tafilalet Palace has a distinctive character. The region operates under laws and regulations that cover various aspects of life, including good neighborliness and wedding celebrations. A charter, signed by all residents, serves as the guiding framework for the city.
Interestingly, the city functions in a way that eliminates the need for a police force or judicial council. This unique characteristic stems from the fact that everything is organized and based on mutual agreement among the residents. The community is built on a strong sense of collective responsibility and cooperation, which helps maintain peace and harmony within the city.
This aspect sets the Tafilalet Palace apart from many other cities around the world, as it demonstrates the effectiveness of a self-governing model built on trust, consensus, and shared values.