.Ghardaya- A view of the Town Centre

2.Ghardaya- A Fascinating view of Melika Ksar

3.Ghardaya- The Monument in the Town Centre

4.Ghardaya- A view of Beni-Izguen Ksar

5.Ghardaya- Zelfana’s County (Daira) Headquarters

6.Ghardaya- Zelfana’s Town Centre

7.Ghardaya- Sunset over Beni-Izguen Ksar

8.Ghardaya- The new housing units at Beni-Izguen

9.Ghardaya- A new architectural style at the Beni-Izguen new Housing u

10.Ghardaya- A night view of a traditional well at Newly-Built Beni-Izguen

11.Ghardaya- The City town hall or Baladiya

11.Ghardaya- The City town hall or Baladiya

12.Ghardaya- The Writer (standing second from right) & His Algiers visiting team As Guests to the Notable Ibadite Kechar Family in Bounoura Ksar

IN THE NAME OF GOD THE COMPASSIONATE THE MERCIFUL *Subject: CITY TOURISM. *Historic Cities of Algeria. *3. GHARDAYA The ancient city of Ghardaia or Ghardaya is a town and Wilaya (province) located in the north of the Sahara, a 600 km distance south of Algiers, its area is 860.105 km2, the Wilaya counts 09 Dairates (Counties) and 13 Baladiyates (Town councils), the climate in this region is dry and Saharan with big differences in temperatures between the day and night as well as between summer and winter. The population of this city exceeds largely 110.000 Inhabitants (latest figures) with a density of nearly 3.60 per km2, half of the population lives in the area of Oued Mzab which is the home of the Ibadi Muslim sect in Algeria. Ghardaia is truly a sight to see as the entire city is mostly made up of original medieval architecture which has been preserved remarkably well. The Mzab valley wherein Ghardaia lies is part of an official World Heritage Site.

The city is actually a cluster of five settlements which were founded between 1012 and 1048 AD on the valley of the Oued Mzab: Ghardaïa, Melika, Beni Isguen, Bounoura and El-Ateuf, those five settlements are mainly home to the Ibadi conservative Muslim sect and which are called here in Algeria “the Mozabites”, a sect which broke from mainstream Islam some1390 years ago during the Caliphate of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (RA). Furthermore, in an admiration sight, the conception of the five highest hills of the Mzab valley is that each hill top is crowned by a lone towering minaret and the buildings seem to span out from them in narrow concentric circles.The majority of the houses on the sides of these hills are two-stories high and each has its own courtyard, terraces and yards. The streets and houses seemed to be carved into the hillside in a way that blends them into the landscape, while whitewashed houses stand out against the blue sky and the reddish brown desert soil. Ghardaia is a perfect example of how homes can be built without defacing the beauty of nature.

The nomad tribe of Bani Wassin mainly Beni Mzab settled in the region in the early period of Islam up to the 11th century , their main activity was animal breeding: camels, sheep and goats , but with the increasing number of this Tribe they started to build up fortified villages or “Ksours” And it is said that these Ksours were designed to be built on top of hills to avoid floods and any external threats and attacks while houses were set to a genius urban system with main streets and other lanes that are narrow, tortuous with roofed passages. It would be worth noting that the main Ksours of the Mzab valley had known their early construction as early as the 11th AD century and are raised up as wonders of this historic City: *El Atteuf “Tajnint” 1011 *Bounoura “At- Bounour” 1064 *Ghardaia “Tagherdait” 1083 *Beni Izguen “At Izjen” 1320 *Melika “At Mlickhet” 1355 *Guerrara 1630 *Berriane 1690. * The terms in “inverted commas “are in Zenati Berber Dialect.

The traditional dwellings of this ancient city is to be noticed by its simple characteristics and high standard scrutiny in its architectural design , they are made up two floors where rarely you found over this two-floor storey .there is an open space in the ceiling through which the house is kept aired and lit through sunlight. The cultural life of this city has known across the centuries a genuine blooming, as many of the Scholars from both the main two Islamic schools of thought (Maliki & Ibadi) that co-exist together have emerged while leaving a rich legacy and common heritage in terms of Manuscripts and books that can be found in different library across the city also traditional crafts are well known in this city as excellent skills in rug , leather-products , sculpting out of wood and copper as well as embroidery on textile are the main attraction of tourists. The economic life has also known and is still having a flourishing era and trading is well developed, the Ksours of the Mzab and the ones of Metlili and El Menia have become one of the most important trading centre and departure points in the north of the Sahara and a linking point between the northern towns and the African countries. .

At a distance of 60km south east of Ghardaia stands a very fascinating thermal spa in the Daira of Zelfana where water of 45° rich in sodium which is carefully used to cure illnesses such as nerves, respiratory-problems, rheumatism and pruritus and is the destination of many people from all over the country, the spa site is situated opposite a Mosque within a stone’s throw away of a breath-taking view of a palmeraie. Ghardaia is a must stop station for every visitor as it really deserves a longer visit in view of the richness of its ever lasting common heritage between the two largest Maliki and Ibadite communities that are living and co-existing together in such harmony and self respect that is the envy of many communities in the world.. *‫سيد محمد بوكريطة الحسني –كاتب مستقل‬ *SYED MOHAMED BOKRETA AL HASSANI FREELANCE-WRITER E-MAILS: mbokreta@maktoob.com mohbokreta@yahoo.com