In these mountains Libyans excavated these cave houses hundreds of years ago to retain social bonds.
This house has a visitor’s room, separated from the others.
Inside, a corridor leads to a terrace that has a natural drainage system.
There are eight rooms.
Each used to be inhabited by one family from the same grandfather.
Alarabi Belhaj his family members are comfortable in their inherited house.
Our fifth great-grandfather Emma Belhaj dug this house in the 17th century.
This house is 352 years old.
And since then all his sons and daughters and grandchildren have been living here.
So the house has not been abandoned for a single day.
The reason why we live here is that we find tranquility in this place, plus it’s our birthplace in heritage.
He also says the ten meters deep eccentric design has healthy effects.
Swallows, which make their nests nearby, provide a morning alarm call and warn of snakes.
Doors are usually made of olive wood to resist decay.
Here you can smell the aroma of ancient times.
And the rooms are decorated with primitive exotic household utensils.
Each one has a single purpose.
Such as this clay pitcher used for preserving oil.
This one is for meat.
And this one for milk.
Everything here looks natural.
Mats made of rock plants, lamb furs, wool carpets, traditional outfits and oil lanterns.
It’s cool in summer and warm in winter.
It also maintains privacy since you can’t hear what the families in the adjacent rooms are saying, unlike in modern houses.
Also ceilings are painted with white lime to give light, prevent insects from living in spaces, absorb humidity.
There were around 3,000 cave houses in Gharyan City.
Only a few have survived.
Alarabi Belhaj hopes to turn his into a Heritage Museum.
But with the lack of awareness and government support, the other houses face an uncertain future.