As Ksar (Arabic قصر, DMG Qasr, plural قصور, DMG Qusur, plural in French letters Ksour ) are traditional, rural fortified settlements or memory castles of the Berbers in the Maghreb, in other words in the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania called.

Word Meaning

The high- Qasr Arabic word refers to a castle or a royal castle. From al - Qasr, the Spanish term derives Alcázar (fortress), with agglutinated Arabic article al -, ago. al - Qasr is derived from the Latin castrum, which is translated as castle or fortress.

Originally from the Arabic قصبة / Qasba term Kasbah does have the same root word, however, refers to the entire Maghreb originally an exclusively military purpose fortress. This can be, and often served to better control the population inside or outside of cities. The application of the term Kasbah to whole neighborhoods that were inhabited by military personnel and court officials and their families, is a later word development.


During the early Islamic expansion ( Futuh ) Ksar meant a military camp. The later Ksour served the population of the nearby settlements as a refuge or protection of the numerous storage compartments ( Ghorfas ) deposited goods from attacks befeindeter neighboring villages or from predatory nomadic tribes.


The Ksour of the Maghreb are - depending on their location, function, climate and / or on the construction materials regionally available (stones, clay) - designed very differently:


A typical - in its architectural form of Roman amphitheater (eg El Djem ) reminiscent - Tunisian Ksar is mostly built of small stones and some soil as mortar and usually has only a single access. The outer walls of the storage chambers ( Ghorfas ) form a closed outer wall, which was in many cases plastered with clay ( in the 20th century with cement). Inside there is a large open - oval or rectangular - square, around which are grouped the superposed in two or more floors storage chambers.

The uniform closed design of the southern Tunisian Ksour hints at the potential that they had a common and future expansions considered planning is based, as were at a growing population and the resulting higher demand for storage chambers or had this be placed on the existing top. However, the basic architectural structure of the Ksar remained unchanged in such cases.

The Ksour southern Tunisia and Westlibyens are often on the caravan routes across the Sahara and served as memory castles (see Agadire ), trading places, and sometimes as religious centers. As a rule, they were uninhabited and were - depending on threat - guarded only by one or more guards. A typical example of the Ksar architecture of the lowlands is the Ksar Hadadda.

In the mountainous regions of southern Tunisia - particularly in the Dahar mountains - there are also more or less fortified, stone-built and formerly inhabited all year round settlements, which are also called Ksar (eg Chenini Douiret ). In its grown over the centuries and nested architecture, they differ fundamentally from the Ksour the lowlands. Together two very different forms is only their defensive character.


To the west of Libya, there are only a few - mostly built on high ledges - Ksour to those in southern Tunisia are similar in their functions and in their architectural form (eg Qasr Bou Neran, Qasr al - Haj, Kabaw / Cabao ). The Ksar of Nalut differs from the others, as in his mind later, another oval ring was fitted with storage compartments so that - only a narrow passage with Ghorfas remains free on both sides - as in the Agadiren Morocco.


In Morocco, the term Ksar denotes a bulit permanently inhabited village, which consists of several - partly verschachtetelten each other - residential castles ( Tighremts ) may exist (eg, Ait Benhaddou, High Atlas ), or - in a few cases - of a closed ring of walls surrounded (eg Tizourgane, Anti-Atlas ).

A uniform design of the Moroccan Ksour is noted only in the built of the Alawites Ksour around Rissani (Ksar Abouam, Ksar Abbar et al ). However, only rarely present or preserved - - ring of walls built in collaboration with the rural Ksour Morocco only came into being. Non-reinforced villages are usually referred to in Morocco as douar (eg Amtoudi ).


The Mauritanian Ksour are more - built of stone - settlements ( trading places), which have developed in the course of centuries to small towns. UNESCO has declared the Mauritanian Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata a World Heritage Site.

Today's state

Due to the modernization of living conditions and the pacification of the Berber tribes of the Maghreb all Ksour have become functionless. In addition, lack of rainfall and a steady migration of population to the cities. Therefore, almost all surviving Ksour are engaged in ARGEM decay. A survival of this for the - nowhere set out in writing - so characteristic cultural history of the Berber architecture will be possible probably only as a tourist attraction or as a film set. So many scenes of the film Star Wars were: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in the Ksour southern Tunisia (Ksar Haddada and Chenini ) rotated.