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© Alfons Rodríguez  

A fantastic place in the desert
  On entering Walata for the first time, we are surprised by the magical image of its richly decorated red adobe houses. Discovering the beauty of its buildings, along with the colours and the silence of the desert surrounding the city, is quite an experience.

The architecture of Walata shows its people's ability to adapt to the harsh environment of the desert climate without losing their taste for decoration and aesthetic refinement. The city centre, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, is a good example of this.

CEvery urban element in Walata responds to a particular objective. As we walk around, we see remains of its ancient city walls and different rihab or little squares with a central well where Walata's narrow streets converge. And let's not forget the zullaylat: a kind of covered street located at airy points of the city and intended as places for meeting, refreshment and rest from the heat for its inhabitants. Apart from these elements, no description of Walata's architecture is complete if it overlooks the recently built neighbourhoods and some of the administrative and military buildings characteristic of the border city it is.

We must not forget to mention the Batha, either, the pond that collects rainwater where the camels, goats and cows belonging to the inhabitants of Walata and the nomad camps in the surrounding area come to drink.

The colour of Walata's houses is particularly eye-catching for tourists visiting the city. It is a result of a mixture used to cover the stonework of the buildings and made from mud, cow dung, water and oligistic pigment. But these houses are also of interest for their structure, in which functionality plays a central role. Thus the ebembi, or wide benches that strengthen the walls of the houses, are intended to protect the walls from erosion at the same time as they provide a suitable place to sit and talk and are used by the population as places to gather in the evening..

The rooms in a traditional Walata house, which is normally divided in two floors, are laid out as follows::

The decorated entrance or façadea
El-hawsh, or courtyard.
Kettu, or winter room.
Segfe,or inner chamber.
Derb, or summer room.
Makem, store room.
Stahj,or roof terrace.
Surur stahj,or main terrace.
El-Qerb, or high room.



If you would like more information before travelling to Walata, write to us
Project undertaken by: With the collaboration of:
  FNSAV Fundació Solidaritat UB              
With the support of:
Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional
Generalitat de Catalunya                                  Ajuntament de Sant Feliu de Llobregat
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Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons.