April 14, 2014

0607, 1058 MOROCCO (Souss-Massa-Drâa) - Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 19.04.2013, 04.03.2014
Ksar is the Maghrebi Arabic term for "castle", but it has a more general meaning of "fortified village", or "fort". It form one of the main manifestations of Berber architecture, and consists of attached houses, often having collective granaries and other structures surrounded by a single, continuous wall, reinforced by corner towers. The building material of the entire structure is normally adobe, or cut stone and adobe. The most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley is Ait-Ben-Haddou, located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas in the Province of Ouarzazate, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. The oldest constructions dates from 17th century, the community areas including a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification and a loft at the top of the village, an caravanserai, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer.

Unlike others, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou has preserved its architectural authenticity with regard to configuration and materials, probably because most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river, only eight families still living within the ksar. Large houses, called tighremt in Berber and dar or kasba in Arabic, bring together, around a central rectangular courtyard, four tall fortified wings, topped by angle towers. Ait-Ben-Haddou is known for its kasbahs, a type of medina, Islamic city, or fortress, a place where lived the ones of  wealthy classes and a defense when the city was under attack. Most of them are country houses, the ground floor was used for agricultural purposes and the upper floors served as living quarters in winter (upper portion) and summer (lower portion).

About the stamp I know only that is part of a series issued on 2011, about which I wrote here.

Aït Benhaddou - Wikipedia
Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou - UNESCO official website

sender: Hanane (direct swap)
sent from Taroudant (Souss-Massa-Drâa / Morocco), on 27.12.2012
sender: Patrik Hierner (direct swap)
sent from Sidi Belyout (Grand Casablanca / Morocco), on 04.03.2014

1 comment:

  1. I thought kzar is the Russian 'czar'.

    Learned something again from your page, Danut!

    Thanks! :)