Palace of Ziri in ‘Achir (Qasr)
Kef Lakhdar, Aïn Boucif, Médéa, Algeria
Around Hegira 336 / AD 947
Ziri ibn Manad.
By founding 'Achir (AH 324 / AD 926), Ziri ibn Manad affirmed himself as a 'true sovereign and creator of a dynasty' (L. Golvin) in a central Maghreb that was torn apart by continual struggles and guerrilla warfare. Built at the foot of the Djebel Lakhdar, which reaches 1,400 m in altitude, the palace of Ziri in 'Achir is a rectangle of 72 m x 40 m. The enclosure wall is reinforced in its corners and along its length by large square pillars. Along the southern side, a projecting doorway opens onto a chicane entrance surrounded by rooms that look as if they were domestic offices and the lodgings of the guards. Passing through the chicane, one reaches a large rectangular courtyard flanked to the east and west by two large rooms and to the north by a large hall in the shape of a cross, creating a significant projection to the exterior. An antechamber with three entrances precedes this hall, which seems to be the throne room where the platform on which the amir sat would have been erected. The façade of this room features decoration in relief and stuccowork, a piece of which can be seen in the National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Art in Algiers.
On either side of the central courtyard, one can access four auxiliary buildings that are of the same shape and size: a courtyard, an attractive separate room that juts out onto the exterior wall, three narrow rooms, a wash-room and a shaft of a staircase that would have led onto a terrace.
Every courtyard is paved, while the building itself, which is particularly well finished, makes use of trimmed rubble as well as carefully cut and sculpted stones. The overall harmony of the palace and its eminent architecture connect it to Abbasid architecture from the same period.
The harmonious design of this palace is based on the rectangular form traced by a surrounding wall reinforced with large square pillars. The southern entrance leads to the outbuildings, guardrooms and a vast courtyard surrounded by rooms, including the cross-shaped throne room to the north, whose façade was decorated with relief stuccowork. The courtyard also leads to several apartments, each with its own courtyard. The ensemble was built with cut ashlars and sculpted stone.
Dated by L. Golvin during the partial excavation of the Palace of Ziri.
Bourouiba, R., L'art religieux musulman en Algérie, Algiers, 1973.
Bourouiba, R., Les H'ammadites, Algiers, 1984.
Golvin, L., Essai sur l'architecture religieuse musulmane, Paris, 1979.
Golvin, L., Le Magrib central à l'époque des Zirides. Recherches d'archéologie et d'histoire, Paris, 1957.
Idris, H. R., La Berbérie orientale sous les Zirides, Xe–XIIe siècles, Paris, 1962.
Djamel Souidi "Palace of Ziri in ‘Achir (Qasr)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;dz;Mon01;16;en
Prepared by: Djamel Souidi
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: AL 18