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The Mzab Valley

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The Mzab Valley is an ancient habitat created around the X century by Berber Muslims. Simple, functional and perfectly adapted for the environment, the local architecture has been designed to live together, although it took into account the family structure. This architecture is the inspiration for the modern urban planners. Located 600 km south of Algeria, in the heart of the Sahara Desert, five ksour (fortified villages) in the Valley form an extremely homogeneous M'Zab formation of the ensemble, in the desert; the brand sedentary and urban civilization that has the original culture, which, through its own merit retained its unity over the centuries. Comprised of ksour and palm groves el-Atteuf, Bounoura, Melika, Ghardaia and Beni-Isguen (founded between 1012 and 1350), the Mzab Valley retained virtually the same lifestyle and the same construction techniques from the 11th century, ordered so many specific social and cultural contexts, as the need to adapt to the hostile environment, the choice of which responded to the historical need for the withdrawal of troops and the security imperative. Each of these miniature citadels is surrounded by walls and dominated by the mosque, a minaret, which functions as a fire tower. The mosque is designed as a fortress, the last bastion of resistance in case of siege, and includes an arsenal and a store grain. Around this building, which is important for communal life, the buildings are constructed in concentric circles to the ramparts. Each house is a cubic cell of standard type, illustrating an egalitarian society based on respect for the family structure in an effort to preserve its intimacy and autonomy. In the early first millennium Ibadis created in M'Zab with local materials, traditional architecture, which, with its excellent adaptation to the environment and the simplicity of its forms, is an example and an influence of modern architecture and urban planning. The human ensembles of the M'Zab Valley are witness to their extremely original architecture dating from the early 11th century, and their severity and the organization for outstanding and original model for studies of cultural communities of the central Sahara. This exemplary settlement had a significant influence over almost a millennium in the Arabic architecture and urban planning, including architects and urban planners of the 20th century, from Le Corbusier and Andre Fernand Puillonu Ravero.

 

Description

 

The three elements that make up the urban ensembles and the settlement of the M'Zab Valley : ksar, cemetary, and palm grove, with its summer citadel, are the exclusive proofs of the culture at its height Ibadis and egalitarian principle, which has been meticulously applied by the Mozabite society. The elements that make up the Valley of M'Zab, are an outstanding example of a traditional village, a representative culture of Ibadis, which, through the inventive system to capture the distribution of water and palm groves, show an extremely effective human interaction with the semi-arid environment. The M'Zab Valley, located within the Sahara, 600 miles south of Algeria, is a unique place in a limited area. Traces of very early settlement can be found on the plateau and rocky slopes, bounding the valley, which was ravaged by a rare and devastating flood Wadi. However, the systematic occupation of the land and the strikingly original adaptation of the architecture to the semi-desert site date from the beginning of the 11th century and were reached by a group of people, of some clearly defined religious, social and moral ideals. Ibadis, the doctrine is in many ways reached by the hard purists Khridjism, part of which was dominated by Maghreb during the 10th century. They founded the state capital, Tahert, destroyed by fire in 909, they then searched for other territorial base, first and last in Sedrata M'Zab. The place is a witness, in the most extraordinary manner, to the culture at its height Ibadi. The main reason for choosing this valley, which until then was inhabited by nomadic groups only sporadically, were defensive capabilities that offered a community that was concerned about his own defense and fiercely devoted to the preservation of its identity, even at the expense of isolation.

 

Unique area

 

The occupation of the land and the space organization were based on very strict principles, and their accuracy and detail have been exemplary in nature. A group of five ksours (ksar: fortified village) - El Atteuf, Bou Noura, Beni Isguen, Melika and Ghardia - located on the rocky outcrops and highly placed sedentary urban population. Each of these miniature citadels are surrounded by walls and dominated by the mosque, minaret, which functioned as a watchtower. Three constant elements – a ksar, a cemetery, a palm grove, with their summer stronghold are found in all five villages. They serve to illustrate the example of a traditional village, which is representative of the culture, which continued into the 20th century. The mosque, with its arsenal and stores of grain, was conceived as a fortress, the last bastion of resistance in case of siege. Every house, a cubic cell of standard type, illustrates the ideal egalitarian, while the grave in the cemetery only wise and small mosques differ in any way. The sample life in the Valley of M'Zab includes seasonal movement. Every summer the population is moving into the palm grove, where the 'Summer of' were marked by looser organizations, very protective nature of the buildings, the presence of fire towers, minarets and mosques without comparable with those in cemeteries. The settlement of the M'Zab Valley showed a significant influence on architects and urban planners of the 20th century by Le Corbusier to Pouillon.







Images of The Mzab Valley, icons, photos, figures, visions, appearances, illustrations, snapshots, captures, canvas and pictures of The Mzab Valley

The Mzab Valley - Beni Isguen
The Mzab Valley - Beni Isguen

The Mzab Valley - El-Ateuf
The Mzab Valley - El-Ateuf

The Mzab Valley - Ancient habitat
The Mzab Valley - Ancient habitat

The Mzab Valley - Unique place
The Mzab Valley - Unique place