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Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Founded in the 11th and 12th centuries to serve the caravans crossing the Sahara, these trading and religious centres became focal points of Islamic culture. They have managed to preserve an urban fabric that evolved between the 12th and 16th centuries. Typically, houses with patios crowd along narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret. They illustrate a traditional way of life centred on the nomadic culture of the people of the western Sahara.

Anciens ksour de Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt et Oualata

Cités fondées aux XIe et XIIe siècles pour répondre aux besoins des caravanes traversant le Sahara, ces centres marchands et religieux devinrent des foyers de la culture islamique. Ils ont remarquablement préservé un tissu urbain élaboré entre le XIIe et le XVIe siècle, avec leurs maisons à patio se serrant en ruelles étroites autour d'une mosquée à minaret carré. Ils témoignent d'un mode de vie traditionnel, centré sur la culture nomade, des populations du Sahara occidental.

قصور وادان وشنقيطي وتشيت ووالاتا القديمة

تأسّست هذه المدن في القرنَيْن الحادي عشر والثاني عشر لتلبية احتياجات القوافل التي تعبر الصحراء. وأصبحت هذه المراكز المتحرّكة والدينية مقرّاتٍ للثقافة الاسلامية. كما حافظت بشكلٍ ملحوظٍ على نسيجها المدنيّ النهائي بين القرنَيْن الثاني عشر والسادس عشر، فكلّ منزل فيها يحتوي على صحن دار وهي تتقارب إلى درجة أنّه لا تفصل بينها سوى أزقّة ضيّقة، وهي تصطفّ حول مسجد يتميّز بمئذنة مربّعة. كما تشهد هذه المدن على طريقة عيشٍ تقليدية وتركّز على الثقافة البدويّة لشعوب الصحراء الغربية.

source: UNESCO/ERI



source: UNESCO/ERI

Ксары (укрепленные жилища) в Уадане, Шингетти, Тишите и Уалате

Основанные в XI-XII вв. для обслуживания караванов, пересекающих Сахару, эти торговые и религиозные центры стали важными средоточиями исламской культуры. Они сумели сохранить городскую застройку, сложившуюся в XII-XVI вв. Обычно дома с внутренними дворами концентрировались вдоль узких улиц, окружая мечеть с квадратным минаретом. Все это иллюстрирует типичный жизненный уклад, основанный на культуре кочевничества народов западной Сахары.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Antiguos ksurs de Uadane, Chingueti, Tichit y Ualata

Fundados en los siglos XI y XII para responder a las necesidades de las caravanas que atravesaban el Sahara, estos centros comerciales y religiosos se convirtieron en focos de propagación de la cultura islámica. Su tejido urbano, formado entre los siglos XII y XVI, se ha conservado admirablemente, con sus casas provistas de patios que se apiñan a lo largo de callejuelas estrechas en torno a una mezquita de minarete cuadrado. Todos ellos son ilustrativos del modo de vida tradicional de las poblaciones del Sahara Occidental, centrado en la cultura nómada.

source: UNESCO/ERI


source: NFUAJ

Oude Ksour van Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt en Oualata

De oude Ksour (meervoud van Ksar, een groep uit leem opgetrokken huizen) Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt en Oualata werden in de 11e en 12e eeuw gesticht voor de karavanen door de Sahara. Het waren handelssteden en religieuze centra die het middelpunt werden van de islamitische cultuur. Ze hebben hun stedelijke karakter – ontstaan tussen de 12e en 16e eeuw – weten te behouden. Kenmerkend zijn de dicht op elkaar staande huizen met patio’s, die liggen aan smalle straatjes rond een moskee met een vierkante minaret. De vier steden illustreren een traditionele manier van leven gebaseerd op de nomadische cultuur van volken in de westelijke Sahara.

Source: unesco.nl

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Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (Mauritania) © John Spooner
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

These four ancient towns, founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, were originally built to serve the important caravan trade routes that began crossing the Sahara. They comprise outstanding examples of settlements and were synonymous with cultural, social and economic life over numerous centuries.  These trading and religious centres became the home of Islamic culture.  

Developed between the 12th and 16th centuries, the towns constitute a series of stages along the trans-Saharan trade route with a remarkably well preserved urban fabric, and houses with patios densely-packed into narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret.  They bear witness to a traditional lifestyle, centred on the nomadic culture of the populations of Western Sahara.  The medieval towns retain a specific safeguarded urban morphology with narrow and winding lanes, houses built around central courtyards and an original decorative stone architecture. They also illustrate outstanding examples of the adaptation of urban life to the extreme climatic conditions of the desert, both as regards construction methods and the occupation of space and agricultural practices.

The roots of the towns go back for more than seven centuries, resulting in urban ensembles that bear testimony to the intensity of changes linked with the important west-east and north-south trans-Saharan trade.  The four towns were prosperous centres from which radiated an intense religious and cultural life. These ksour are located on the southern limits of the Saho-Sahelan desert and over time became obligatory stages for the caravan routes linking North Africa and the river regions of western Africa, but also the entire savanna zone.

Criterion (iii): The Ksour bear unique witness to a nomadic culture and trade in a desert environment.  Their roots go back to the Middle Ages. Established in a desert environment bordering the Maghreb and the large ensembles of the «bilad es-sudan», they were prosperous centres from which radiated an intense religious and cultural life.

Criterion (iv): The ancient ksour are medieval towns with an outstanding example of the type of architectural ensembles illustrating seven centuries of human history. They contain an original and decorative stone architecture, and present a typical model of habitat of Saharan ksour, particularly well integrated to the environment. Their urban fabric is dense and closely-packed; with narrow and twisting lanes running between the blank outer walls of courtyard houses.

Criterion (v): These living historic towns are an outstanding example of traditional human settlements and the last surviving evidence of an original and traditional mode of occupying space, very representative of the nomadic culture and long-distance trade in a desert environment. Due to these particular characteristics, warehouses were built to safeguard their goods, and the towns evolved to become the brilliant homes of Islamic culture and thought. 

Integrity (2009)

The inscribed area incorporates all the attributes necessary to express Outstanding Universal Value.  The setting of the towns and their relationship with the desert environment, essential in understanding their role, has become vulnerable in recent years due in part to development pressures.

Authenticity (2009)

At the time of inscription, the four towns had preserved their original form and materials to a remarkably high degree, essentially due to gradual deterioration and population migration over a long period when no restoration was undertaken. When restoration work began in the 1980s, the techniques employed were in full conformity with best practices. Recently, the authenticity of the site has become vulnerable to socio-economic and climatic changes, due both to transformations made to houses and the lack of technical competence. 

Management and protection requirements (2009)

Law 46-2005 concerning the protection of tangible cultural heritage constitutes the legal framework for the management and presentation of the Ancient Ksour of Mauritania. The Ministry for Culture is the authority responsible for the enforcement of the laws concerning the protection of cultural properties. The Directorate of Cultural Heritage ensures that standards are being observed and is carrying out an inventory of the cultural properties in these towns. It supervises the work of the National Foundation of Ancient Towns that operates in these towns and ensures its management, conservation, presentation and development of socio-economic activities. The National Foundation for the Ancient Towns has developed a framework to be followed by a management plan once the fund is established for the ancient towns in the property and its buffer zones. The problem of sand drifts and desertification facing the towns as well as socio-economic changes, are all real challenges for the management of these towns in the preservation of these pearls of the Sahara.

There is a need to reinforce conditions concerning protection, planning and management in order to respond to the challenges being faced, particularly, to ensure that the buildings conserve their distinctive structures, decoration, form and configuration.