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Old Town of Ghadamès, Libya. | by © Libyan Soup
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Old Town of Ghadamès, Libya.

Labyrinthine maze of interlinking interiors within the corridors of the Old Town.


Ghadamès, known as 'the pearl of the desert', stands in an oasis close to the Algerian border. It is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities and an outstanding example of a traditional settlement.


The entire town is made out of mud, lime, and palm tree trunks. The houses were constructed so that all intersect, with covered alleyways between them, and adjoining roofs above, allowing passage from one house to another on different levels.


In the 1970s, the Libyan government forced the relocation of the entire population of 7000 Tuareg Berbers to a new purpose built town outside the walls of the Old Town. However, many inhabitants maintain their old houses and return to the old town during the summer, as its architecture provides better protection against the intense heat.


Indeed these naturally ventilated corridors and old houses are a wonderfully cooling retreat from the merciless (113 F) 45 C + heat of the summer sun.


Ghadames is proof that man can live in an extreme environment without air conditioning. It is a pity this ancient and appropriate architecture seems to have been forgotten by the modern world.


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Taken on December 6, 2005