The Enigmatic Medieval Ruins of Egypt’s Shali Fortress

(Image: brum d (website), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Lonely and enigmatic, the medieval ghost town of Shali lies near Egypt’s isolated Siwa Oasis, 348 miles from Cairo and 30 miles east of the Libyan border. The buildings of the 13th century fortress, built mainly from a non-waterproof salt and mud mix known as kershef, were only supposed to last a few decades. Incredible, they remained inhabited until 1926, when a major rain storm destroyed Shali.

(Image: saragoldsmith, cc-3.0)

While it was no-doubt an impressive site before the storm, urban explorers, historians and photographers continue to be mesmerised by the enigmatic ruins. Taking advantage of surrounding hills, Shali reportedly towered 60 metres above the oasis, while its largest buildings – all now destroyed – reached five storeys tall.

(Image: Dust Mason (website), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Despite Shali’s status as a ghost town characterised by numerous abandoned buildings, some structures reportedly remain inhabited. Historically a part of ancient Libya, Siwa Oasis was once home to an oracle of the Egyptian god Amon. The settlement, though isolated, is populated by around 23,000 people, mainly ethnic Berbers, the indigenous North African people from west of the Nile Valley.

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