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In the al-Baha and Asir provinces of Saudi Arabia and in Yemen, the word "qasaba" usually refers to a single stone or rock tower, either as part of a tower house or a tower isolated on a hilltop or commanding a field.
It was a place for the local leader to live and a defense when a city was under attack. A kasbah has high walls, usually without windows. Sometimes, they were built on hilltops so that they could be more easily defended. Some were placed near the entrance to harbors.
The casbah was an innovation of the Almohads who first had them built in the 12th century, often near already existing medinas. Almohad casbahs consited of a militairy base, a palace and dwellings for the ruling class and their families. These casbahs soon became a core aspect of Maghrebi urban planning.
Having a kasbah built was a sign of wealth of some families in the city. Almost all cities had their kasbah, this building being something necessary for the city to survive. When colonization started in 1830, in northern Algeria, there were a great number of kasbahs that lasted for more than 100 years.
The word kasbah may also be used to describe the old part of a city, in which case it has the same meaning as a medina quarter. The Spanish word alcazaba is a cognate naming the equivalent building in Andalusia or Moorish Spain. In Portuguese, it derived into the word alcáçova. In Turkish and Urdu the word kasaba refers to a settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city; in short, a town.
In India, a qasbah is a small town distinguished by the presence of Muslim families of rank.
- Bab Ksiba
- Kasbah of the Udayas, in Rabat, Morocco
- Casbah of Algiers, Algeria
- Battle of Port Lyautey
- Rock the Casbah
- The Casbah Coffee Club
- Morocco Baedeker Guide -Ingeborg Lehmann, Rita Henss – 2012 Page 214 "KASBAH A mud-brick castle that serves as a residence for the local Berber tribe is called a kasbah or »tighremt« in Morocco. Some are private mansions, others are even whole fortified villages with many large and small buildings crowded on ..."
- Marrakesh Fez Rabat Barnaby Rogerson – 2000– Page 65 "as its purpose, for a kasbah should be the domain of a ruler, be he sultan, governor or just a tribal chieftain. Most of the ancient cities of Morocco retain a large portion of their outer walls, but the kasbah (the government citadel containing ... "
- Morocco – A Country Study Guide Usa Ibp, International Business Publications, USA. – 2006 Page 229 "Sultan Abdelmoumen transformed what was not much more than a Casbah and built a mosque and a palace here too."
- Boundaries and identities: Muslims, work and status in Aligarh E. A. Mann – 1992 p. 23 " "A qasbah is a small town distinguished by the presence of 'decent people or families of some rank' (Platts, 1974). ."