Ghardaia in the M’zab, the Pentapolis of the desert


I first traveled to Algeria in 1984 on my motorcycle BMW R80GS. I crossed the border between Tunisia and Algeria through the border post of Hazoua, I passed the fascinating town of El Oued, known as “the city of a thousand domes” and reached the city of Ghardaia, stopping there for a few days.

Ghardaia, is a town of the Mʾzab region, in the far north of the Sahara desert; the M’zab region is inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1982. It lies along the left bank of the Wadi M’zab in the northern Sahara desert.

The city was founded in the 11th century by Kharijites (the word Kharijite means “those who defected from the group”) to escape persecution from the Fatimids in the north; it was built around the cave (ghar) reputedly inhabited by the female Saint Daia (the cave is still venerated by Mozabite women).


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