Ghardaïa


Useful Information

Location: 600 km south of Algier. Exact location unknown.
(?, ?)
Open: unknown.
[2021]
Fee: unknown.
[2021]
Classification: ExplainLost Caves
Light:  
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Ghardaia Tourisme - Association d'Orientation Touristique, Rue Cheikh Ammi Saïd, Ghardaïa, Tel: +21-3560-386224.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1048 Ghardaïa built.
1982 inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

Ghardaïa [gArdAyA'] is the capital of the tribe of the Mʾzab or Mozabites, and has a population of about 110,000 inhabitants. The Mozabites (Mzabites, M'zabites) are a Muslim Ibadi sect, living in the Wadi Mzab, a stony, barren valley in the north of the Sahara. This city was founded in the 11th century by Muslim Kharijite sectaries fleeing persecution by the Fatimite Muslims of the north. The Mozabites dug more than 4,000 wells, created date-palm oases, and built five towns, which are united in a confederation. Ghardaïa is the biggest city, and popular stop for Sahara tourists. Beni Isguen is the holy city of the five and not allowed for foreigners. Ghardaïa, today the capital of M'zab, was the last of the cities of the Pentapolis which was built in 1048.

Ghardaïa was built around a cave reputedly inhabited by the female Saint Daïa, hence the name Ghar Daïa (Cave of Daïa). The cave is still venerated by Mozabite women, at least thats what many websites state. Our impression is someone wrote this long ago any it is copied without checking its correctness. We are not sure if it is true, or if it probably has been true some decades ago. We were not able to find out more about the cave or where it is or was located, Our best guess it that it is located inside the oldest mosque of the city, thats the location we have currently marked. Drop us a line if you find the cave, currently we classified it as a ExplainLost Cave.

Legend has it that a young girl named Daïa, abandoned by everyone because she was pregnant, lived alone in a cave. Sheikh Sidi Bou Gdemma was passing by and, seeing smoke above the cave, stopped. Seduced by the beauty of the young girl, he proposed to her in marriage. And both founded the city of Ghardaïa "Cave of Daïa".

According to legend the place was once called ⵟⴰⴳⵀⴻⵔⴷⴰⵢⵜ (Tagherdayt) which means castle. This word is from the Tamazight language, Berber languages also known as the Amazigh languages. However, there are no reliable source for this.