Libya / Cities and Towns /
Town and oasis in Libya, with 20,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), next to the borders of Tunisia and Algeria.
Ghadames is recognized for its beautiful and inventive architecture, designed to fight the dramatic extremes in Saharan climate.
All houses are made out of mud, lime, and palm tree trunks. They are constructed so that all intersect, with covered alleyways between them, and attached roofs above them, allowing passage from one house to another.
While the entire population has moved out of the old town to the modern nearby village, the the old center still provides a popular shelter from the summer heat.
The economic base for Ghadames has been dwindling over the ears. Earlier the town was an important stopover on the caravan routes crossing the Sahara. Today's income is derived from some camel breeding, diminutive agriculture and administrative and military activities.
There is evidence of settlement herein Palaeolithic and Neolithic times (about 10,000 years ago).
19 BCE: The Roman garrison Cydaus is established, but the Romans find this a difficult post to maintain.
4-5th centuries: Cydaus becomes an episcopate under the Byzantine empire, and, consecutively, 4 bishops provide service here.
667: Arab invasion. Uqba ibn Nafi stops here on his way to Tunisia.
8th century: Ghadames is established as an important trading point for caravans.
16th century: Ghadames is set under the Bey of Tunis.
1860: Ghadames is set under the Bey of Tripoli.
1914: The Italians reach Ghadames, three years after occupying of the rest of Libya. They are met with strong resistance.
1924: Italians finally get control over Ghadames.
1940: Ghadames is placed under French control. Under World War 2, the old city is strongly damaged.
1951: After strong pressure, the Tunisian protectorate surrenders Ghadames to the newly independent Libya.
1955: The last French troops leave.
1986: Families permanently abandon the old town for modern houses.