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"Fortified granaries of the Jebel Nafusa" Top 5 Page for this destination Libya Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Libya Things to Do: 206 reviews and 690 photos

  Qasr al Hajj
by TheWanderingCamel
  • Qasr al Hajj - Libya
      Qasr al Hajj
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Kbao - Libya
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Nalut - Libya
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Nalut - granary entrance - Libya
      Nalut - granary entrance
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Nalut - Libya
    by TheWanderingCamel

The fortified granaries (qasrs) in the Berber hill towns of the Jebel Nafusa are both extraordinary and fascinating. There are three that are in a state to be visited by tourists - Qasr al Hajj, Kbao and Nalut.

It was Eid al Kabir when I visited Qasr al Hajj and, unfortunately, the qasr was locked so I had to be content with a walk around the outsid, peering through the great palm trunk doorway. It was enough to see what a fantastic place this is. Built in the 12th century, it is he only qasr still in constant use. It's a huge structure, its outer walls broken only by a few tiny "windows " and the door I mentioned. Inside, the walls are built up in layer upon layer of storage rooms, used by the different families of the town as safe keeping for their precious crops of wheat and barley and such - and massive clay jars of olive oil. The old town is deserted now and the people of Qasr al Hajj have move to a new town up the road but the qasr, surrounded by a well-tended garden, is in kept in excellent repair.

Kbao, on the other hand, is a wonderfully evocative ruin. Sitting high above the equally ruinous old town, the qasr here is also centuries old, a strangely organic pile of stone and mudbrick cells, piled one of top of each other as high as four or five stories in places. Some of the cells still have their old palm tree doorways whilst others even retain the platforms at the entrance that allowed the owners a somewhat precarious access. Totally abandoned now, the qasr is always open and entry is free.

Nalut's granary is neither as ruinous as Kbao nor as well-maintained as Qasr al Hajj. Here a stone marker tells of it being rebuilt in 1240 and it was only finally abandoned in 1960. If anything, it has an even more organic feel than Kbao, the cells being built along two narrow alleys, some carved into the rock, others piled one on top of the other in a jumble of doorways leading into cells of all shapes and sizes. Nalut is kept locked but the guard is usually on site to open up for visitors.

Directions: You can visit Qasr al Hajj in a day out of Tripoli, many tours include such a visit. Kbao is further afield - a very long day with your own car and driver could include a visit to both these granaries. Nalut is probably best visited en route to Ghadames.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 16, 2006
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