The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Old Town of Ghadames - Libya

Map showing the location of the Old Town of Ghadames UNESCO world heritage site, Libya

Website Category: Fortified Towns of the Trans-Sahara Trading Route

Area: unknown

Inscribed: 1986

Criteria: (v)  interaction with the environment

Location and Values:  The old town of Ghadames is located in an oasis about 600 km south-west of Tripoli near Libya’s border with Algeria. It has been settled since pre-historic times, and was the location of a Roman garrison from 19BC.  But the characteristic buildings of the old town that remain today date from the period of prosperity associated with the booming of trans-Sahara trade from the 13th to 16th centuries. 

The Old Town of Ghadames is roughly circular in layout and the outer walls of the houses around its perimeter are thickened to create an external fortification for the town.  The architecture of the flat-roofed houses adheres to a standard plan, with the ground floor used for storage, warehousing and business, with family living quarters on the first floor and the inter-connected roof-top terraces reserved for women.  The first floor rooms are often suspended over the narrow alleys below, creating a network of cool passageways through the town at ground level.

Slideshow of the Old Town Of Ghadames:  The slideshow includes 24 pictures of the old town provided by Bridget Goldsmith and David Trump.  They illustrate the key elements of the town’s architecture, with its shaded passageways, roof-top terraces with their distinctive triangular crenulations, some bas-relief wall decorations, and a couple of mosques. 

Slideshow of the Old Town Of Ghadames:



Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of the Old Town of Ghadames on Google Earth,click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.

Links to other towns of the trans-Sahara trading routes:  M’Zab Ksour  I  Ait-Ben-Haddou  I  Timbuktu

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

Typical decorative motifs in the Old Town of Ghadames UNESCO world heritage site, LibyaThe interconnected rooftops are reserved for women in the Old Town of Ghadames UNESCO world heritage site, LibyaThe first floor living quarters are suspended over a network of cool shaded alleyways at ground level in the Old trans-Saharan trading Town of Ghadames (UNESCO world heritage site, Libya)Entrance into the old trans-Saharan trading Town of Ghadames (UNESCO world heritage site, Libya)



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