A tad less than 300 miles away from Tripoli there exists an ancient getaway, an oasis made of mud, lime, and the trunks of palms. Covered alleyways and heat reflecting, creme-colored walls weave in and out of grottos and lead to the old town spring water pool. This pre-Saharan city is Ghadames, also known as the ‘pearl of the desert’.
While none of the buildings from the protohistoric Berber period or the time of Roman domination still stand, the architectural style distinguishes Ghadames from the surrounding pre-Saharan cities. The houses cluster into a rough circle, the outer walls facing the edges of the city creating a fortified wall around the entire settlement.
Inside the walls, the houses utilize different floors for different needs, one for storing goods, another for family living, and the covered alleyways for traveling around the city protected from the blistering desert sun, creating the feel of underground passageways. At the top, open-air terraces are reserved for the women only.
Considered the old part of town, new housing has been built outside of the lime-washed walls, however many of the 10,000 residents of this historic oasis return when the heat becomes unbearable, as those walls still provide more relief from the relentless heat than anywhere else.