Conquering the historic cities of Mauritania
Located in the South-East more than 600 miles from the capital Nouakchott, Oualata is one of the must see cities of the country and a key element of the history of Mauritania. Initially famous because it was where the political jail was from the 70’s, the prison is now closed while many political figures were locked in there such as Moktar Ould Daddah, considered as the father of Mauritania Independence. The “Ksour” (fortified village) of Oualata is a UNESCO World’s Heritage Site since 1996 and enhances the attractiveness and the obvious charm of the city as well as for the cities of Chinguitti and Tichitt.
Chinguitti, for its part, offers visitors an exceptional architectural setting thanks to its history. Real crossroads of the Arab World, the Black Africa and the Moors, the city is also known as “the city of the libraries” because it welcomed a lot of scientists who settled there and created Koranic Universities. Thus, you can find a dozen libraries which mostly contain works about the Koran, religions, sciences or literature and some of which are from the 9th century! It magnificent mosque built in the 13th century is also unmissable for any visitor. However, although classified as a UNESCO World’s Heritage Site, the advance of the desert is a permanent threat and could make the city disappear under the sand within 40 years.
Tichitt, caravan city of the Mauritanian Sahara, is, as well as Oualata or Chinguitti, one of the oldest cities in Mauritania, real historical city with a unique Arabic and African heritage that the government wants to promote more and more. The facades of houses are constantly being renovated and are built following a really original and attractive model. The city is located at the top of a horseshoe shaped cliff. It once overlooked a large lake and thus served as an almost unavoidable halt to the Saharan nomads. Its Ksour is also a perfect example of the Saharan architectural buildings and shows how humanity could adapt to the Desert.