Library is one of the places we must visit if we want to get to
know this city's exciting past, as it contains an important collection
of manuscript documents giving complete information about Sahara
society. This unique and unrepeatable spot is named after Talib
Bu Bakar, a scholar of the Al-Amhayib tribe. Walata's traditions
have been preserved in writing thanks to the painstaking work by
this intellectual who died in 1917..
Another indispensable visit is the Walata Ethnographic Museum, whose
rich and fascinating collection shows us different aspects of Walata's
life and culture. In its galleries we enter into different spheres
of daily life and can appreciate unique objects of great beauty.
There is also a room entirely devoted to nomadic life and culture,
one of Mauritania's most significant cultures. Although the nomadic
population has decreased in proportion over the last few decades,
we cannot overlook this society whose cultural wealth is still present
in modern-day Mauritania.
Walking through Walata's
streets, we can enjoy its fine red adobe architecture and its characteristic
urban structure. The streets are narrow and somewhat labyrinthine,
and every now and then we are surprised by covered passageways where
we can rest in the shade. We also find large squares like the charismatic
Gdnou Square, site of the 'madrassa' or Koranic school.
school was highly renowned at the time of Walata's greatest splendour
and students came from other parts of the country or even from abroad.
We will also be surprised by its traditional houses, which we can
visit on the occasion of an invitation to tea from its inhabitants.
In the area around the city we can also find different archaeological
remains that are a good example of what life was like in the region
of Walata over the ages. On the Dhar, a few kilometres west of the
city, we can visit the remains of a neolithic village belonging
to what is known as the 'Tichitt-Walata Dhar culture'. This culture,
which inhabited the Dhar between the fourth and first millenniums
BC, left more than 400 stone-built settlements which speak for a
time when the climatic conditions were more favourable than they
are today, allowing the local population to live largely from fishing.
On the track leading to the city, just three kilometres away, we
find the sand-covered ruins of the historical Tizeght and its extensive
cemetery, where pagan and Muslim graves are mixed. Our cultural
tour concludes at the 'French Fort', which stands on the Dhar east
of Walata, a building from the colonial age reminding us of that
period of Mauritania's past.