Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siwa Oasis - Part 4 : Shali

This is the fourth in a beautiful series of articles written by my friend Gabi Philips who has spent an extended period of time in Siwa.

I had started posting these in May and then got side tracked. Here are the rest of the series.

Also Read
Part 1 : Transportation
Part 2 : Where to Stay
Part 3 : Where to Stay (contd)

Shali in the Siwan language means "town", it could also mean "citadel".

Shali was built in 1203 to protect the Siwans from attacks. It is built from "karsheif" which is mainly from the local salty soil in Siwa. It was partially destroyed during 3 days heavy rain in 1926.

Shali used to have one main gate that closed by sunset and was called "el-bab enshal" (as far as I know, it means the main gate), it was divided between Eastern Siwans and Western Siwans, each living in the East/West half of Shali. The houses sometimes reached 7 & 8 levels (floors) as there was no space for horizontal extensions.

My aunt who visited Siwa thrice in the 80's told me that there were people still living in Shali and who hadn't left it. She also said that you had to go with a local to be able to find your way through the maze of streets.

To compare Siwa before the heavy downpour and now please click the link.

In the third photo, you will notice new buildings down Shali. It is a hotel less than 2 years old, named "el-bab enshal" also made by the same owner of Adrar Amellal.

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