This Ancient Citadel in the Sahara Desert Has a Mysterious Past

The Draa ksar emerges with grandeur amidst a vast expanse of sand dunes. Its distinctive circular form is a striking feature in the desert landscape, and its historical origins have become obscured through the passage of time. Navigating a visit to this ksar without the assistance of seasoned guides poses a considerable challenge. Nonetheless, once reached, the panoramic view and exploration of its surroundings promise an experience beyond words. Yet, numerous enigmas remain unresolved to this day.

Even the local inhabitants are unable to furnish information about this unique structure. The only available insight suggests that, at a certain period, the Jews of the Timimoun region occupied it. However, the exact timeframe remains elusive. What purpose did they assign to it? Could it have truly been a fortified stronghold, or might it have served as a military outpost, or even a penitentiary? Alternatively, could it have functioned as a caravanserai?

Regrettably, the remaining fragments of its architecture offer limited insight into its original purpose. An encircling wall, standing at approximately two meters in height, encloses the exterior of the ksar. This outer wall also takes on a circular shape, featuring a dual composition. The external layer is constructed from stones, bonded together with clay, while the internal layer comprises clay exclusively. The ksar is accessible through a sole entryway on its northern side. Between the two concentric walls, a sequence of rooms unfolds over three levels. The absence of visibly exposed staircases leads to the speculation that internal staircases may have facilitated access between the various levels. Another intriguing aspect emerges in the form of segregated rooms, and remarkably, there are no windows that face outward.