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1. The mosque

2. Northern dwellings

3. Southern dwellings


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Berber village without tourist crowds
Guermessa, Tunisia

As seen from west, right before you make the final climb to the mosque. At this photo, the houses almost merge with the mountain peak. You see two lines of houses starting to the left of the mosque, one line right below and the other a bit up.

Guermessa is the third, and least known mountain village to the west of Tataouine. Most travellers go to Douiret and Chenini, but Guermessa involves about 15 km of travelling on heavy piste, so it is left out.

Guermessa, Tunisia

As seen from east: The mosque is almost disappearing between the two peaks. The main part of the old village is running along two belts along the peak to the right.

Guermessa is the type of village that served several purposes at the same time. Building up in the mountain, with the mountains as part of the houses made them cooler, and at the same time the mountains also protected the inhabitants from villains.
Today, there are no more villains, and modern comfort is not easy to fit with the rugged walls of the old mountain houses. Therefore, old Guermessa is almost totally abandoned. The excellent guide book series, Rough Guide Tunisia, wrote that it would be abandoned within a decade or so. After my visit in 2000, I could see no traces of locals living here anymore.

By Tore Kjeilen