The ancient oasis city of Ghadames in the Sahara is known as ‘the pearl of the desert’. It is one of the oldest pre-Saharan cities and an excellent example of a traditional settlement. The houses’ architecture has a vertical division of functions: the ground floor was used for storing supplies; then a floor for the family, over covered alleys that create what is almost an underground network of passageways; and, at the top, open-air terraces reserved for the women. It was purposefully designed this way to provide protection from the heat of the Sahara.
Today several houses of the old town have been refurnished and restored to give an idea of what they were like to live in. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.