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Ghardaïa Mosque

Type: Holy Place
Ghardaïa, Algeria
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C limbing into the brilliant Sahara sunshine, the Ghardaïa mosque stands out from the city below the same way the lush, green city stands in contrast to the parched, swirling sands that surround it. Ghardaïa is one of five cities where thousands of people manage to carve out a living on the edge of the M'Zab oasis. Tourists rarely get to view the towers stark Moorish architecture because of misconceptions raised by militant Muslim attacks to the north. The tower is simple and elegant; punctuated by the large portal at the top of the shaft which lets the heat of the day escape creating a ventilation flow that draws in the sweet smell of dates from the valley below. It has been this way since the 10th century when the oasis was discovered and people began raising dates, creating pottery, and weaving rugs in this isolated corner of the Earth. A thousand years later, modern urban planners are trying to unlock the secret formula that has allowed Ghardaïa to prosper while holding the concept of community living sacred.

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