Ghademès: One of the Oldest Pre-Saharan Cities

The Old Town of Ghadamès is an African town in Libya, where mainly Berber people live. The foundation date of the village goes back to 4 B.C. Ghademès is also known as ”the pearl of the desert” (Jawhart Al- Sahra) as it stands out in an oasis and it is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities. It is an example of a traditional settlement and people’s ability to adapt to harsh environments.

Some of the houses are connected to each other via terraces and walkways. Women mostly prefer to use these walkways.


Houses of Ghademès combine form and function. They are made of lime, mud, and palm tree trunks to protect their habitants against the desert’s heat and wind while granting comfort to the household. There are usually two stories and each of the floors function in a separate way.


Ghademès houses have elaborate signs and ornaments.

The ground floor is mainly for storing supplies like food and furniture. The other floor is for the family, also used as a meeting place for men and children. There are also impressive dwellings above the stories that are reserved for women which grants privacy and movement for them via the terraces.


Most people sleep on the roofs during the hot summer months.

walkways and terraces of Ghadamès

Ghademès is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Throughout its history, the city was occupied by many civilizations such as the Romans. Because of its location, Ghademès also played an important role in the trans-Saharan trade and it came across many different cultures but maintained their own traditions.

elaborate decorations in Ghadamès

A mosque in Ghademès

a mosque in Ghadamès

A coffee corner

a coffee corner in Ghadamès
walkways of houses of Ghadamès