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Old Town of Ghadamès
Site number:
Type of site: Heritage in danger
Date: -
Date of Inscription: 1986
Location: Africa, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Al Hamadah Al Hamra
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Description: Known as 'the pearl of the desert', Ghadamès is set in an oasis. An exceptional example of a traditional settlement, the site is among the oldest pre-Saharan cities. A vertical division of functions is prevalent in its domestic architecture: its ground floor acts as the storage area for supplies; the floor above it is used by the family for living purposes, it overhangs covered alleys that form what is just about an underground network of passageways; and, at the top, open-air terraces are reserved for the families’ women. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  Ghadames (Berber: ɛadēməs; "classical" Arabic: غدامس (Ġadāmis), Libyan vernacular: ġdāməs) is an oasis town in the west of Libya. It is located approximately 340 miles in the south west of Tripoli, near the borders to Algeria and Tunisia. The oasis has a population of 7000 Tuareg Berbers. The old part of the town, which is surrounded by a wall, has been declared World Heritage of the UNESCO. Each of the seven clans that used to live in this part of the town had its own district, of which each had a public place where festivals could be held. In the 1970s, the government built new houses outside of the old part of the town. However, many inhabitants return to the old part of the town during the summer, as its architecture provides better protection against the heat. The first records about Ghadames exist not before the Roman period, when there were troops in the town from time to time. The Roman name for the town was Cydamus. During the 6th century, a Bishop lived in the oasis, after the population have been converted to Christians by the people of the Byzantine Empire. During the 7th century, Ghadames was ruled by the Muslim Arabs. The population quickly converted to Islam. Ghadames played an important role as base for the Trans-Saharan trade until the 19th century. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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