Mzab Valley in Ghardaia Wilaya is a geographical site that is also known for its unique architecture. It is one of the most remarkable places in all of Algeria.
The valley is located 500 km to the south of Algiers, the capital of Algeria. It is within the Sahara Desert. It falls under the Ghardaia Wilaya administrative region.
What to See
The area is actually a limestone plateau situated in the valley of Wad Mzab. Five walled villages can be found on the rugged outcrops. Together these are known as the Pentapolis. They are El-Ateuf Tajnint, Bounoura At Bunur, Melika At Mlishet and Beni Isguen At Isjen. The latter is the main settlement site. If El Guerara and Berianne are included, the area is known as the Heptapolis.
All the citadels at the Mzab Valley in Ghardaia Wilaya have a mosque resembling a fortress. During ancient times, their minaret functioned as a watchtower. The architecture is a combination of the Libyan-Phoenician style. The homes were built around the mosque. The homes were built for egalitarian communal living.
The Mozabites (or Mzabites) belong to the Berber Iznaten tribe. The Iznaten tribe resided in the center of southern Algeria. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous Tifinagh symbols and letters in the site. Following the Islamic conquest, the Mozabites were converted to Islam.
When the Rostemid state collapsed, the Rostemid royal family and their followers settled in the village. In 1830, France conquered Algeria. It was officially annexed by the French in 1882. In 1962, Algeria was granted its independence.
Due to its location, it is best reached by a 4WD or another similar vehicle. There are travel agencies in the country that can handle all your transport needs to the site.
During summertime, the Mzabites went to summer citadels located around the palm grove oases. It is one of the biggest osasis clusters in the Sahara Desert.
Ghardaia is the Mzab capital. The most ancient settlement is el-Ateuf. Of all the sites, Beni Isguene is regarded as one of the most sacred. Non-Mzabites and foreigners are prohibited from spending an evening in its walls. Some areas are completely off limits to foreigners.
Melika is home to many black Africans. It is also known for its large cemeteries. Berriane and Guerrera have been part of the valley since the 17th century.
The Mzab Valley in Ghardaia Wilaya is a breathtaking place, one of Algeria’s finest geographical sites. In 1982, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.