Qaser Alhaj -The Pilgrim Castle

Qaser Al-Haj Castle
The Berber Fortified Granary of Qasr Alhaj.

These castles were originally used to store the local produce such as olive oil (in clay jars), and grains. Each family in the village would have a special designated place. The whole structure is usually circular and has a main entrance gate. It is these castles that bring to mind the statement mentioned by some historians in that the Libyans were the first to invent the banking system, and therefore you are looking at one of the oldest banks in the world. In a way, each one of these rooms has evolved to become a vault in modern banks where wealthy families can deposit their precious valuables for safe keeping.

Berber granary castle



Qaser Alhaj interior showing wooden tools

Qasr Alhaj interior showing traditional wooden tools.

Qaser Alhaj

The above sign enlarged, telling the story of the castle in Arabic:

The castle was established in the middle of the 12th century by Shikh A'ebdella Ben Muhammad Ben Hilal Ghanem. The castle contains 114 rooms. The castle was used as a resting and a meeting point for the pilgrims in their way to the coastal cities and hence its name: Qaser al-H'aj (The Pilgrim's Castle).


Qaser Alhaj interior showing wooden, stone and metal tools

Qaser Alhaj interior showing wooden, stone and metal tools.

The area between the mountain and the coast is a fertile strip of agricultural farms, and hence the variety of the farming tools found in the castle.

a stone quern from Qasr Alhaj

Quern-stones from Qasr al-Haj.

Hand stone-mill: an ancient grinding tool widely found in North Africa. The bottom section remains stationary (the quern), on which the top half is made to revolve. The small hole on the edge of the top section is for the wooden handle which used to turn the stone, while the middle hole is for pouring the grains. The quern is placed on an animal skin to collect the flour falling from between the two stones. The quern stones appear to have been invented in North Africa, as older forms are found across the Sahara, including earlier proto types made of a small stone with a cavity in the middle and a stone pestle. Other type are also shown at the "Museum of Lybia".






Qaser al-Haj




a view from the inside of the castle looking out