Ghadames is a Libyan city located in the western part of the country, 543 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, at latitude 30.08 north and longitude 9.03 east, and it rises 357 meters above sea level. It is linked to the capital, Tripoli, by a road that extends for a distance of 600 km and passes under the Nafusa mountain, which is the mountain range extending from Khums to Nalut, and near the city there is an airstrip (a local airport) that is linked by periodic flights with the city of Tripoli and Sabha.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization "UNESCO" classified Old Ghadames as a historic and protected city by the organization, as it was one of the most famous northern African cities that played an important commercial role between the north and south of the Sahara desert by being a caravan station. It is now a palm oasis located on the border triangle between Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. The city of Ghadames is divided into three sections: the old city where the wall and the mosque, the palm tree, and the modern city where the new buildings are.
Origin of the Name
The name Ghudamus, means the country of leather (animal skin) in the Romanian language, while Ghadames means the place of camels, as the Tuareg call it.
Stone sculptures and inscriptions indicate the existence of life in this region 10,000 years ago, which the Carthaginians occupied in 795 BC, then the Romans occupied it in 19 BC and the Arabs conquered it in 44 AH. It had caves that were prisons belonged to the priestess, who was in Africa. In the past, the city was subject to the control of the Greeks and then the Romans, until the Muslim Arabs entered it for the first time under the leadership of Uqba ibn Nafi, as there are still a number of graves of the companions who conquered it. It reached the height of its glory in the eighteenth century when it was subject to the Ottoman rule present at the time in Libya, and became an important center for caravans and a point of trade between the cities of the African continent, the Italians occupied it In 1924 AD, and subjected it to their authority until they were defeated, and the French forces enter it in 1940 AD, and remained until 1955 AD.
Below are some important dates in the history of the city of Ghadames:
In 667 AD, the Muslims entered the city of Ghadames under the leadership of Uqba ibn Nafi '.
In the eighth century AD, the city of Ghadames reached the height of its glory as a trading point for caravans passing through the desert.
In the sixteenth century Ghadames was under the control of the Ottoman rule in Tunisia.
In the eighteenth century, Ghadames was under the control of the Ottoman rule in Libya.
In 1914 AD, the Italians arrived in Ghadames four years after the occupation of Libya.
In 1924 AD, the Italians took full control of the city of Ghadames.
In 1940 AD, the city of Ghadames was subjected to French control, after World War II, and the city was damaged because of it.
In 1951 AD, the city of Ghadames was handed over from the Tunisian government to the Libyan government.
In 1955 AD, the last French soldier left the city of Ghadames. In 1981 Families begin to leave the old city of Ghadames for the modern city.
Ghadames and Timbuktu, Mali
Ghadames has a thriving historical relationship with Timbuktu in Mali. Many Libyan researchers, such as Noureddine Mustafa, Mukhtar Gudar, and some travelers, such as the Englishman Leng, assert that the city of Ghadames clearly contributed to the founding of Timbuktu, the desert metropolis and the lost jewel for Europeans, which was known for its reputation in the field of trade and its market full of precious commodities such as gold and copper. They also stressed the importance of studying the history and geography of this region, stressing that there is an outlook on meanings, intellectual effects and cultural connotations in the cities of Timbuktu and Ghadames.
Its population is 25 thousand people. Its original inhabitants are divided into two origin Amazigh tribes, the Wazit and Walid, who are from the Amazigh Zenata tribes, passing through the entry of different races of Arabs, merchants and slaves, ending with the entry of what is known as the Tuareg in the second half of the twentieth century.
Grandeur of the City
It was famous for its desert nature and many archaeological evidence of the civilization that existed in this city, in addition to several traditional industries such as making fronds and handicrafts.
Landmarks of the City
‘Al-Fars’ spring: It is one of the most important landmarks in the city, its the only spring that made the city continue to live, the residents added another importance to the spring through the system used to distribute its water. They were able to take advantage of every drop of water that came out of that spring by placing 5 waterways of varying size and capacity known as al-Qadus.
‘Makdoul’ Palace: It is west of the city wall, appears to be Roman, as it is circular with a hidden door. It was used for surveillance. It is believed that Emperor Caracalla built fortresses in the city of Ghadames in order to secure the Germanic attacks on the colonies of the Roman Empire.
‘Tasmuddin’ Antiquities: Its remains are still present in the southwestern side of the ancient Ghadames, which are Roman monuments, but some scholars believe that it is a remnant of the Germanic civilization that prevailed in southern Libya for a period of time before the advent of the Romans. Some studies have been conducted on these remains, some believe they are graves because of the skulls found below them, while some believe that they are pillars of ancient religious buildings.
‘Majzam’ Lake: It is two adjacent saline lakes linked by a small path, one of them deep and estimated to be more than 70 meters deep, it is located to the north of Ghadames, on the road leading to Tripoli. The first lake is large, and its shore is like the shore of the sea, meaning its depth gradually increases as it heads towards the center of it. The second lake is smaller than the other one, and its shore is like edges of right angles. it is deep and its depth has not yet been determined, “when you dive inside it you will see what looks like caves”, one of the divers who visited the lake had said. Small fish such as ‘Zaghloul’ in the lake can pass from one lake to another through the corridor between the two lakes. Larger fish were also grown in the lake and their size exceeds the palm of the hand.
‘Ras Al-Ghoul’ Mountain: It is a mountain outcrop near the Algerian border, and according to popular stories in the city, it is the last stronghold of the infidels before their surrender to the conquest of Islam.
Characters from the City
Among the contemporary scholars of Ghadames, Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Busiri and Sheikh Ahmad Izz Al-Din, and the man of history, Ahmad Qasim Dhawi, as well as the sheikhs of the schools in which the Noble Qur’an and its laws are taught, such as Sheikh Mustafa Ba Issa and Sheikh Muhammad Bashir Fayyad, may God have mercy on them.
In October/November Ghadames’ annual International Festival is one of the Sahara’s most colorful events. It’s a three-day celebration of the traditions of the nomadic Tuareg people. This festival brings the old city alive in a riot of color and activity. Ghadamsis return to their family homes in the old town and open the doors for singing, dancing and public festivities such as: open marketplace, horse and camel races outside the city walls, most of them preformed in traditional dress.
There are two airports in Ghadames; Old Ghadames Airport: It is considered one of the old airports in Libya, as it was established during the period of the French occupation. New Ghadames Airport: It is intended to receive small and giant aircraft, and it has several airstrips.