Located in the small town of Yefrin in the Nafussa Mountains about an hour and a half drive from Tripoli in the Gharian
Gharian is a city located in a mountainous region about an hour and a half drive south of Tripoli. This mountain range is called JabalNafusa with the highest point named Juhaish Peak measuring 850 – 900 meters above sea level. The terrain is rocky with abundant red clay and although the area is rugged and dry, it is well-known in Libya for the many species of wild herbs that grow there and are handpicked by local people and sold in markets around the country. Grapes as well as fruit trees such as peaches, figs, almonds, and olives are cultivated in the area. Barley is also a cultivated crop.
The population of Gharian is made up of both Arabs and Berbers who live among each other amicably. Most of the people are farmers, herders, artisans and craftsmen.
In the past the inhabitants of the region lived in troglodyte dwellings, many of which can still be seen and visited today. These traditional houses are not caves, but rooms that have been excavated from the compact red clay-rich soils. A sloping tunnel descends to an open courtyard in a 6 to 8 meter deep pit.
Rooms are then excavated radially out from this courtyard. Its form provides natural air-conditioning, both in summer and in winter. Sadly this type of home is no longer in use. There is a troglodyte dwelling that has been restored as a museum and is open to visitors.
Natural caves are found in Gharian in the cliffs of the Sidi as Sid Formation. In the past, these caves were used and developed as dwellings. From the outside, these caves appear as normal homes, with doors and windows, but the insides of these dwellings are formed from caves with rooms made up from the natural formation of the mountains. People no longer reside in this type of home.
Qasr al Haj is a fortified storage location that has been in use by the local people of Gharian for hundreds of years. It was built more than 800 years ago to store grain, olive oil or possessions of locals and nomadic people of the area.
It is the only granary still in use. The granary is a hive of 114 cells hewn from the mud and rock walls. The structure has four levels; a basement level and 3 stories above ground. Steps have been formed from the mud and rock walls as well as primitive looking ladders, allowing access to the different levels.
Traditionally each family owns one cell – the sizes of which vary from tiny to roomy caverns. A caretaker of the Qasr would open the gates at certain times each day so that food stocks could be stored or withdrawn. These types of structures are found in other areas of Libya as well as the neighboring country, Tunisia
Gharian is well known for its earthenware pottery. Made from clays found locally, pottery is sold along the main road at roadside stands. Prices are reasonable and the variety of designs ranges from traditional to modern innovation.
Yefrin hotel is one of the best hotel accommodations in this small town.