In Mauritania we found a gigantic primitive volcano ,the GUELB ER RICHAT then we walked through Wadan the legendary city of palm groves, and finally we arrived at Chinguetti, the seventh holy city of Islam.
Mauritania. The land of which, since ancient times, a thousand poets have sung. The country of the bidanes. And of the ADRAR TMAR, the fabulous mountains of sweet dates.
These lonely escarpments hide some of the most jealously guarded treasures of the great Sahara desert.
For as long as anyone can remember, the nomads have come to these oases to rest and escape from the burning heat. Small islands of intense green and babbling waters.
The oasis of TERYIT is home to some of the most important endemic plant species, such as the Saharan fern.
In the crystalline waters that gush from the spring live, inexplicably, dozens of small fish, true living fossils from the time when rivers flowed across this desert.
In the Mauritanian Adrar, one of the most spectacular phenomena in the world can be found.
This is GUELB ER RICHAT, a gigantic primitive volcano the enormous size of which can only be appreciated from the air. Mauritania is a country entirely of desert and with a fascinating history.
The terrifying canyons of the AMOJIAR ravine, its vertical walls, and the frequent landslides formed part of the dangers of the road which the ancient caravans had to negotiate in order to reach the mythical cities of the Gold Route. The lost cities of Mauritania. WADAN, the legendary city of palm groves, and its mysterious founders, the BAFUR, who trained dogs for war and were great musicians.
To Wadan came the caravans of thousands of dromedaries from the black kingdom of GHANA with slaves, gold and shellac, to exchange them for the salt the wadanies mined in the SEBJA of IYIL.
In these lands, the fierce Almoravid warriors conceived their epic plan of creating a vast African empire which would stretch from the river Niger to the shores of the Ebro, in Al-Andalus. They brought together all the tribes of the Sahara under the flag of the most orthodox Islam.
This city, formerly rich thanks to its immense palm groves, stands in the centre of the TURAB AL BIDAN, “The Land of the White Men”, the natural frontier with Black Africa.
Like all the great cities along the caravan routes, Wadan, before its final decline as a result of the internal struggles which laid it to waste in the eighteenth century, was an important centre for the dissemination of culture. Today, all that remain are the ruins of the once bustling city. It is virtually deserted, its former prosperity now reduced to the very image of desolation.
The other great caravan centre in the Adrar of Mauritania is CHINGUETTI.
According to popular belief, it was founded by the Almoravids, though studies have suggested it was of later construction. Like Wadan, it is in a lamentable state of conservation, despite the funds donated by UNESCO in order to preserve it.
The mosque is the most important building in Chinguetti and perhaps in all of Mauritania.
Every year, below its minaret, of dry-stone masonry and reconstructed several times, thousands of the Turab al Bidan faithful gathered to set out on the pilgrimage to Mecca.
For this reason, Chinguetti was considered the seventh holy city of Islam.
The precarious state of the city is due to the inexorable advance of the desert and the circle of encroaching dunes which are slowly burying it forever.
So, the people abandon their homes which, empty and unattended, in time simply crumble.
The few inhabitants that still remain are elusive and the streets are empty. It is, to all intents an purposes, a ghost town. Only the odd crafts stall, where you can now buy a family’s most treasured memories, reminds us of the former splendour of Chinguetti, once the source of all erudition and knowledge in Mauritania.