The M’Zab Valley has been founded in the 11th century. It is a true open-air museum located in the Algeria Sahara desert and covers an area of 50 sq. km (20 x 2.5 km). The M’Zab Valley has been awarded national heritage in 1971 and world heritage by UNESCO in 1982.
The specificity of this human heritage is that it is still inhabited by the original population that has developed an ingenious system of structuring and development of this territory famous for its aridity and isolation. The craftsmanship with which space has been filled together with the ability to use fewer resources is the result of an ancestral knowledge acquirer since the foundation of the first Algerian state.
Established in 1048, Ghardaia is known as the pearl of the oasis and the capital of the M’zab Valley. The city is part of a pentapolis, a hilltop city amongst four others, built almost a thousand years ago in the M’Zab Valley. On its top and in the middle is situated one mosque, considered to be the central and focal point around which all other elements of the urban and religious life are gathering.
The M’Zab Valley is worldwide known for its historical remains that have captured the ingenuity of man to know how to produce beauty in all forms. The valley also includes the exceptional concentration of ancient buildings, a large number of hydraulic works, and archaeological sites preserved over the course of time.
This is the cradle of an ancient civilization that is nowadays a reference to the perfect harmony between social organization, urbanization system, architectural typology, water control, and ecological balance.
Remarkable about the M’Zab Valley is that it is composed of five “ksours” or fortified villages. They were built by Ibadhites during the years 1012 and 1353. Each city has its own palm grove. The Ibadhite is an extremely traditional and religious community. In the cities, you can walk alone, but if you want to enter the mosque, you must be accompanied by a guide, because it is reserved for Muslims. Handicraft production is the landmark of the M’Zab Valley. In addition to jewelry, pottery, and leatherwork, you can buy beautiful handmade carpets.