Chinguetti - Old Town

 As it was outside the tourist season, most of Chinguetti's shops and libraries were closed ..
however our guide took us for a walk around the buildings and provided a very knowledgeable commentary on the various stages of new building and old restoration and who they were funded by.

In front of the huge tower was a modern building .....

..... which was a book shop, but unfortunately closed.

The tower itself was a new water tower, nearing completion .....

..... and funded by the countries of the European Union.

Next we visited the Al Habott Library which is the best known and most thoroughly catalogued. Established in the 18th century by Sidi Muhammad Ould Habot (17841869), a descendant of Islam's first caliph, Abu Bakr, it grew through wholesale acquisitions of libraries elsewhere in North Africa as well as by copying locally available books. Now holding some 2000 manuscripts, the collection spans the period from the year 1088. Although it will take many years, we were told that a start has been made on converting these manuscripts to computerised digital formats.
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As of the end of 13th century, Chinguetti, seventh Holy City of Islam, attracted the well-read men of the Moslem world. Philosophical monks, poets, doctors, lawyers and mathematicians all converged on Chinguetti, for research, to gain knowledge, study and write. Its religious and commercial influence spread as far as the Maghreb, Sudan and the borders of The Orient. Chinguetti was known as the 'Sorbonne of the Desert', protecting manuscripts of the poet Ould Ragza, the jurisconsult Ould Belamach and the scientist Sheik Ould Hammoni.
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We were shown some of the manuscripts by the Habot father and son who carry on this precious work, and were treated to explanations and long lists of dates, but photography was not allowed. A much more informative and accurate account than I could write about this and other libraries in Chinguetti, with the background of Chinguetti's ancient history,
can be found
here.

Passing through the streets, evidence of wall rebuilding could be seen.
Many walls had crumbled and most ancient houses were open to the skies ..
here a sizeable tree had grown within a house.