Ghat (photos) is an ancient city, which is 1400 km away from the capital, Tripoli, and is located in the western Libyan desert on the outskirts of the Libyan-Algerian border. The city follows the Ghat governorate, which is its capital, and it has an airport for domestic flights.
The inhabitants of the city are Tuareg and its population is approximately 32,000. Some of them are Amazigh, speaking and writing Amazighian language, using the Tifinagh or the ancient Libyan letters . The rest are speaking Arabic language and few of them are speaking the Hausa language because their origins are from Nigeria and Niger.
Origin of the name
The opinions differed about the origin of its name. Some people said that it comes from the rain (Ghaith), meaning that it helps the traveler in the desert and provides him with food and water. While others said that it is named after a religious man, named Guth, who used to live in the city, and when he died the city was named after him, and his grave is still in the old city of Ghat. However, the latter name is more likely among the people of Ghat.
Ghat is characterized by its geographical nature, with valleys, golden sands and mountains that border it from all directions.
It contains an ancient Turkish fortress, which is surrounded by the ancient Acacus mountains range from the eastern side, at an altitude of not less than a thousand meters, in which the oldest mummy in the world was found and its name is (Wan Muhuggiag or Wan Mughjaj). It also has a number of villages belonging to it, and from the southern side, about 100 km away, there is the Tassili mountain range, which contains the oldest archaeological inscriptions dating back to 7,000 years BC and that area is considered one of the largest natural museums in the old days, the city was a route for trade caravans and was closely linked to the city of Timbuktu, which locates in the heart of the Sahara Desert.
Fortress of Ghat
The Fortress was built by the Ottoman Turks’ Empire during their rule of Tripoli and Fezzan, and it destroyed by the Italian colonialists who occupied the city in 1913. It is not excluded that the French also used it during their occupation of Fezzan (1943-1952) after defeating the Italians in the last years of the Second World War. It has been rebuilt and is now a distinctive tourist attraction in the city. The road to the top of the fortress definitely passes through the paths of the ancient city of Ghat, ‘Agram’, standing at the top of Ghat Fortress can easily get a bird's-eye view of the city and the nearby palm plantations, as well as the Acacus Mountains, with their charming rock carvings, and golden sand dunes, whereas under the fortress’ western wall there is an underground tunnel that might have been used in emergency situations, such as sieges.
Kaf Ajnoun Mountain (Mountain of Ghosts)
The mountain is 35 km from Ghat, and 25 km from Tahala, it is begin from the city of Ubari through the city of Ghat and even Algeria, which is about 600 km. And it is called by this name because of the many stories told by the people of Ghat that a lot of ghosts live in these mountains.
What increases the importance of the tourist city of Ghat is that it is a major stop on the road of discovering the rock inscriptions in the Acacus and Tassili Mountains, which date back to past eras in the history of the inhabitants of the Sahara, and indicate the magnitude of climate change that has passed throughout the region. It has a large variation of landscapes, from different-colored dunes to arches, gorges, isolated rocks and valleys. Major landmarks include the arches of ‘Afzejare’ and ‘Tin Khlega’. Although this area is one of the most arid in the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the medicinal Calotropis procera. The area is famous for its ancient caves, and its rock art, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date back to 21,000 years, which reflect the culture and nature of the changes in the area.
The people of Ghat hold a cultural and tourism festival for three days at the end of December, every year. The festival activities included artistic performances by folklore groups, camel races, in addition to artistic evenings accompanied by the songs of desert cities.