With a EGP2 million Japanese grant and a team of 113 young workers, the restoration project for the buildings of the 12-century al-Qasr village in Dakhla oasis in the Western Desert has been launched. The project is sponsored by the Society for Community Development in al-Rashda, and was launched in a celebration held two days ago and attended by officials in the tourism field as well as Egyptian, Dutch and Australian archaeologists.
The village of al-Qasr is a stunning sample of architecture in the Islamic era. It is situated to the north west of the town of Mut in the New Valley, the governorate which includes the Western Desert Oases. It is one of the fortified medieval towns and villages of the oasis and is said to be the oldest that has been inhabited uninterruptedly since it was built and the best-preserved settlement of its type in Dakhla.
Al-Qasr was built in the 12th century by the Ayyubids over the remains of a Roman era settlement to defend against invaders from the south and west of Egypt. During this time the fortified town is thought to have been the capital of the oasis. Like the town of Mut, its streets were divided into quarters which could be closed off at night by barred gates.
The village boasts some singular landmarks. A fencing wall that surrounds the courtyard of one of the houses is believed to have come from an ancient temple for the god of wisdom Thot, and a three storey mudbrick minaret that rises 21 metres above the mosque of Nasr Eddin is the only part of the original mosque to survive.
23 February 2015