Ghardaïa (غرداية‎‎) is located in northern-central Algeria in the Sahara Desert and lies along the left bank of the Wadi M'zab, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s part of a pentapolis, a hilltop city amongst 4 others, built almost a thousand years ago. It was founded by the Mozabites, a Muslim Ibadi sect of non-Arabic Muslims, including Berbers. It’s a major center of agricultural date production and the manufacture of rugs and cloths. Divided into 3 walled sectors, it’s a fortified town. At the center lies the historical Mʾzabite area, with a pyramid-style mosque and an arcaded square. Distinctive white, pink, and red houses, made of sand, clay and gypsum, rise in terraces and arcades. In her 1963 book, La force des choses the French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir described Ghardaïa as “a Cubist painting, beautifully constructed”.

“A study of the history of the redemption of humankind reveals the Son of God, Who became a person in order to save all of us, treading the path to His voluntary passion, bearing the sin of the world, healing our wounds, fulfilling the great mystery of divine dispensation, reconciling us with God and yet in no way infringing our free will. The gate of Paradise, which had been shut, was opened; the fiery sword which guarded the entrance was removed and the voice of the Lord invited excluded humanity to enter thereby into a place of peace and quiet.
But we were left free to enter or not, as we choose.”
~Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis

(art: Cherubim And aFlaming Sword, by J. Kirk Richards)