01/14: Ghardaia, El Atteuf, and the M’zab Valley

I am continuing the theme of medina quarters with a few photos of Ghardaia, a UNESCO heritage site located in the Saharan desert of Algeria. Inventory of Earthen Architecture.pdfI was lucky enough to visit Ghardaia this past May, going with a carload of family from El Bayadh (about a six hour drive away) to stay with my uncle’s old college room mate. Ghardaia is home to a predominantly Ibadi community, a group within Islam distinct from Sunni or Shia. This community can through North Africa and settled Ghardaia in the 11th century. The M’Zab Valley is home to seven settlements in total, all of the same age, with modern 20th century development stitching the medinas together. I stayed in El Atteuf, and was granted a tour of the old city. For some name dropping, famous French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier visited Ghardaia in 1931 and is said to have been heavily influenced by the visit (how this influence manifested I am still not sure). Below are photographs from my trip this past Spring.

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Our party was half in traditional dress and half in western dress. Most of my photos ended up devoid of locals walking around, as they avoided interaction with outsiders (anyone outside of the religion, even my Sunni-Algerian relatives counted as outsiders).

A final note: the Tate Museum in London has a couscous sculpture modeling Ghardaia. I need to find out how artist Kader Attia created all that form work.

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