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
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.