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Libya's 'pearl of the desert'
Ghadames, an oasis town in northwestern Libya, is famed for its labyrinthine walled settlement.
Last updated: 01 May 2014 10:41
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Often termed the "pearl of the desert", Ghadames is a large oasis town in the northwest of Libya, near the Algerian and Tunisian borders.

Ghadames is famed for its Old Town, a walled settlement constructed of narrow tunnels where the light and dark play tricks on the eyes. The town's former inhabitants, predominantly Amazigh Berbers, were forced to memorise and distinguish real routes from dead ends in order to navigate their way through the labyrinthine town.

The Old Town, designated a UNESCO-protected world heritage site in 1986, is thought to have been settled since the year 3000 BC. Once under Roman rule, Ghadames was under the control of the Ottoman Empire circa the sixteenth century, and a large Ottoman consulate still stands there today.

The vast maze of interconnected rooftops is the defining feature of the Old Town. Traditionally, only women were permitted on the rooftops, going about their daily work and acting as scouts for incoming caravans on the trans-Saharan trade routes.

The last family left the Old Town in the 1990s due to a lack of water and electricity, and most inhabitants have now settled in Ghadames' new city.

The director general of UNESCO called upon the Libyan authorities during the country’s 2011 revolution to ensure the protection of Ghadames. The town now remains a popular and unique tourist attraction.


/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

A UNESCO-protected world heritage site, Ghadames' old city is now uninhabited. 



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The defining feature of the Old Town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The maze-like corridors of the old settlement were difficult to navigate.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

Many buildings in the Old Town are uniformly white, reflecting the Saharan sun. 



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

Traditional dwellings were highly decorated, including with many mirrors; due to a lack of light in the tunnelled town, these were positioned strategically to reflect the light.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The public reservoir was the main source of water in the Old Town. A lack of water and limited electricity were the main reasons the settlement is now uninhabited.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

Revolutionary graffiti decorates the walls of the new city. This image depicts the anniversary of the start of the 2011 Libyan revolution, "17 February".



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

A Ghadames resident restores and shines shoes in the new city's main shopping thoroughfare.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The new city's skyline is dominated by the Ghadames Central Mosque.



/Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera
Rippling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, on the outskirts of the city, stretch out as far as the eye can see.



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images:
/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492951434937_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492952388256_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492953169883_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492954122246_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492955794944_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492956684136_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492957559400_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492958231600_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/201442492959310612_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2014/4/24/20144249300310294_8.jpg
captions:

A UNESCO-protected world heritage site, Ghadames(***) old city is now uninhabited. 

;*;

The defining feature of the Old Town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

;*;

The maze-like corridors of the old settlement were difficult to navigate.

;*;

Many buildings in the Old Town are uniformly white, reflecting the Saharan sun. 

;*;

Traditional dwellings were highly decorated, including with many mirrors; due to a lack of light in the tunnelled town, these were positioned strategically to reflect the light.

;*;

The public reservoir was the main source of water in the Old Town. A lack of water and limited electricity were the main reasons the settlement is now uninhabited.

;*;

Revolutionary graffiti decorates the walls of the new city. This image depicts the anniversary of the start of the 2011 Libyan revolution, "17 February".

;*;

A Ghadames resident restores and shines shoes in the new city(***)s main shopping thoroughfare.

;*;

The new city(***)s skyline is dominated by the Ghadames Central Mosque.

;*;Rippling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, on the outskirts of the city, stretch out as far as the eye can see. Daylife ID:
d404a1a5fdccecd29ba1841b316248fa
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera;*;Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Libya's 'pearl of the desert'Ghadames, an oasis town in the northwest of Libya, is famed for its "old town", a centuries-old uninhabited settlement.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadamesen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:18:59 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/9349cb17141550418896b2ade5350439

The defining feature of the old town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/9349cb17141550418896b2ade5350439Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The defining feature of the old town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/4c31e1242eec5b8f3870b654432aaa50

A UNESCO protected world heritage site, Ghadames' old city is now uninhabited. A wall encloses the old town, which has unique triangular rooftops.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/4c31e1242eec5b8f3870b654432aaa50Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

A UNESCO protected world heritage site, Ghadames' old city is now uninhabited. A wall encloses the old town, which has unique triangular rooftops.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/f01216b611ea0aaf55d55b6f55ac737d

The defining feature of the old town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/f01216b611ea0aaf55d55b6f55ac737dAdela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The defining feature of the old town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/43399ba5048cc610c9f3e4c27242ffd2

The spooky interior of the maze-like corridors that make up the now uninhabited old town.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/43399ba5048cc610c9f3e4c27242ffd2Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The spooky interior of the maze-like corridors that make up the now uninhabited old town.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/dcb2d0a3ea3ea76a8ce16384f2da1f5e

The Ottoman consulate showcases how many buildings in the Old Town are uniformly white, reflecting the Saharan sun. Official buildings and public spaces are intricately decorated with a predominantly red colour.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/dcb2d0a3ea3ea76a8ce16384f2da1f5eAdela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The Ottoman consulate showcases how many buildings in the Old Town are uniformly white, reflecting the Saharan sun. Official buildings and public spaces are intricately decorated with a predominantly red colour.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/ef80dcfcbb015bf37d22aed50cdc4cb1

The inside of a traditional Ghadamesy dwelling in the old town. The walls are densely covered with red decorations, especially mirrors. Due to a lack of light in the tunnelled old town, each house strategically positions mirrors at different angles to reflect the light internally.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/ef80dcfcbb015bf37d22aed50cdc4cb1Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The inside of a traditional Ghadamesy dwelling in the old town. The walls are densely covered with red decorations, especially mirrors. Due to a lack of light in the tunnelled old town, each house strategically positions mirrors at different angles to reflect the light internally.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/30549f9533dba910ba198eae674a0398

The public reservoir is the main source of water for the Old Town. A lack of water and limited electricity supply were the two main causes of the exodus of locals to the new city in the 1990s.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/30549f9533dba910ba198eae674a0398Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The public reservoir is the main source of water for the Old Town. A lack of water and limited electricity supply were the two main causes of the exodus of locals to the new city in the 1990s.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/732c2956ff150a467a1b5400ca97e549

Revolutionary graffiti decorates the walls of the new city. This image depicts the anniversary of the start of the 2011 Libyan revolution, "17 February".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/732c2956ff150a467a1b5400ca97e549Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

Revolutionary graffiti decorates the walls of the new city. This image depicts the anniversary of the start of the 2011 Libyan revolution, "17 February".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/c63d6581155832e699f07da914fec861

A Ghadamesy man restores and shines shoes in the new city's main shopping thoroughfare.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/c63d6581155832e699f07da914fec861Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

A Ghadamesy man restores and shines shoes in the new city's main shopping thoroughfare.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/f2ebba6819aa89ea722690b3bec7d432

The new city's skyline is dominated by the Ghadames Central Mosque.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/f2ebba6819aa89ea722690b3bec7d432Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The new city's skyline is dominated by the Ghadames Central Mosque.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/aae4fa99673b73609367f61bca15d9fd

Rippling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, on the outskirts of the city, stretch out as far as the eye can see.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/aae4fa99673b73609367f61bca15d9fdAdela Suliman/Al Jazeera

Rippling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, on the outskirts of the city, stretch out as far as the eye can see.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/916103915144cd5c8b561c3f65c29134

The defining feature of the Old Town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Ghadames/slideshow/no-caption/916103915144cd5c8b561c3f65c29134Adela Suliman/Al Jazeera

The defining feature of the Old Town is the interconnected rooftops. Only women were allowed to roam the rooftops, socialising and acting as scouts.



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