M’Zab Valley

M’Zab Valley, photo by PhR61
M’Zab Valley (photo by PhR61)

M’zab is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a limestone plateau in the heart of the Sahara Desert in north-central Algeria.

The five ksour (fortified villages) that make up the valley demonstrate in extraordinary pocket of sedentary and urban civilization that has preserved its cohesion throughout the centuries.

Each of these miniature citadels, surrounded by walls, is dominated by a mosque, the minaret of which functions as a watchtower. Around each mosque are houses built in concentric circles up to the ramparts.

Overall Atmosphere: Combination
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.
Featuring both cultural and natural attractions.
Recommending Sources:
   World Heritage Site
   Lonely Planet


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Unusual Local Feature
The M'Zab Valley has conserved practically the same way of life and the same building techniques since the 11th century, based on the need for adaptation to a hostile environment and the need for practical defenses. Each house constitutes a cubic cell of standard type, illustrating an egalitarian society founded on the respect for the family structure, aiming at the preservation of its intimacy and autonomy. The mosque is conceived as a fortress, the last bastion of resistance in the event of a siege, and comprises an arsenal and a grain store.
Castles and Forts
Located on the northern fringe of the Sahara, the valley is made of oasis towns in stunning pastel colors.
Also of Interest:
Historic Landmarks
Islamic Landmarks

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