Ksar Maztouria

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Ksar Maztouria is a small village a few miles from Tataouine. It isn’t marked on the map and doesn’t get a mention on the web.

It is a typical small Tunisia village mud houses with a few small shops selling mainly dry goods. The houses all have barrel roofs which help keep them cool in summer. Many have a wall round them enclosing a courtyard where the sheep and goats are kept at night. Few people have cars and the donkey is still the main method of transport.

The area is very dry and stone or earth banks are built to hold back water which allows wheat to be grown along with a few palm and olive trees. There is a traditional stone well in the village which is still used for irrigation. A series of troughs provides water for the animals and an irrigation channel takes water to the crops which are grown in tiny fields surrounded by low earth walls to retain water. Carrots, onions and garlic are grown.

Some women were drinking mint tea and talking outside one of the houses. Our arrival was the cause of considerable interest. They spoke no English or French so questions and answers were relayed by our driver. They wanted to know where we came from and what the scenery was like where we lived. Did we use donkeys.

The ksar is built above the village and looks like a hilltop fortress. It has a tall outer stone wall with a massive gateway with a wooden door faced with metal. Entry is through a smaller doorway cut in one of the big doors. It leads into a porch with stone benches for sitting. The central courtyard is lined with one or two levels of ghorfas (rooms). Upper ghorfas are reached by steep stone steps and there are stones set in the wall to reach doorways with no step access. Some still have their palm wood doors. Inside the ghorfa the storage area had different bays for storing different foods. Some cells were used for living and are long and narrow with a stone slab separating the sleeping area at the far end. A small circular window cut in the outer wall of the Ksar was the only source of light.

The ksar is no longer used for storage and small stone storage buildings dotted around the countryside.

This was a very well worthwhile visit.

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