Bou Saada - A Flourishing Desert Oasis
Situated to the north east of the Saharan Atlas region in Algeria somewhere between the Atlas Mountains and the Hodna depression and salt lake, lies the city and oasis of Bou Saada. The town is - and always has been - a pilgrimage town. It is a place where visitors can rest their weary bodies and minds after days spent in the tough dessert surrounds. Roughly translated, "Bou" means father and "Saada" means peace and happiness. The name is appropriate for this little desert haven.
Bou Saada is a true oasis. Built along the left bank of the Bou Saada Wadi, it stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding barren mountains and dry salt marsh. Traditionally it served as an important market place and was well known for its jewelry, metalwork, carpet and bousaadi knife production. Not much has changed. Bou Saada is still an important trading post and rest stop for traveling nomads and in addition to these goods, Bou Saada now also has a textile mill. However this little oasis is no longer exclusively open to those traveling by camel and horse as it is now well connected to other urban centers by road.
Visitors to Bou Saada will likely start their stay with a tour of the city. Bou Saada can roughly be divided into two halves - the old medina with its arched alleyways and aged walls which is situated within the city walls - and the French town, which is located to the south of this. Just outside the city parameters one might notice the large date groves. Once they've visited the bustling markets and gotten a taste for life in this trader's oasis, they might try a visit to the Bou Saada Park. The park covers roughly 100 acres and has been planted with various grape vines that are now harvested and bottled as wine. The park produces Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling. A further seven acres are in the process of growing Pinto Noir, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc vines to add to this impressive list. The variety of vines available in this huge vineyard enables Bou Saada to produce their own exclusive range of wines from locally grown grapes. It is well worth a taste!