Theme Week Algeria – Algiers

Saturday, 30 September 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  11 minutes

Bologhine district © flickr.com - Damien Boilley/cc-by-2.0

Bologhine district © flickr.com – Damien Boilley/cc-by-2.0

Algiers is the capital and largest city of Algeria. The city’s population is at 3.5 million and the population of the larger metropolitan city to be around 6.3 million. Algiers is located on the Mediterranean Sea and in the north-central portion of Algeria. Sometimes nicknamed El-Behdja or alternatively Alger la Blanche (“Algiers the White”) for the glistening white of its buildings as seen rising up from the sea, Algiers is situated on the west side of a bay of the Mediterranean Sea. The modern part of the city is built on the level ground by the seashore; the old part, the ancient city of the deys, climbs the steep hill behind the modern town and is crowned by the casbah or citadel, 122 metres (400 ft) above the sea. The Casbah and the two quays form a triangle. Some 20 km (12 mi) to the west of Algiers are such seaside resorts as Sidi Fredj (ex-Sidi Ferruch), Palm Beach, Douaouda, Zéralda, and the Club of the Pines (residence of State); there are tourist complexes, Algerian and other restaurants, souvenir shops, supervised beaches, and other amenities. The city is also equipped with important hotel complexes such as the hotel Hilton, El-Aurassi or El Djazair. Algiers also has the first water park in the country. The tourism of Algiers is growing but is not as developed as that of the larger cities in Morocco or Tunisia. The districts of Algiers are:

  • The Casbah (of Al Qasbah, “the Citadel”), 1er District of Algiers: called Al-Djazaïr Al Mahroussa (“Well Kept Algiers”), it is founded on the ruins of old Icosium. It is a small city which, built on a hill, goes down towards the sea, divided in two: the High city and the Low city. One finds there masonries and mosques of the 17th century; Ketchaoua mosque (built in 1794 by the Dey Baba Hassan) flanked by two minarets, mosque el Djedid (built in 1660, at the time of Turkish regency) with its large finished ovoid cupola points some and its four coupolettes, mosque El Kébir (oldest of the mosques, it was built by Almoravid Youssef Ibn Tachfin and rebuilt later in 1794), mosque Ali Betchnin (Raïs, 1623), Dar Aziza, palate of Jénina. In the Kasbah, there are also labyrinths of lanes and houses that are very picturesque, and if one gets lost there, it is enough to go down again towards the sea to reposition oneself.
  • Bab El Oued: Literally the River’s Gate, the popular district which extends from the Casbah beyond “the gate of the river”. It is the capital’s darling and best liked borough. Famous for its square with “the three clocks” and for its “market Triplet”, it is also a district of workshops and manufacturing plants.
  • Edge of sea: from 1840, the architects Pierre-August Guiauchain and Charles Frédéric Chassériau designed new buildings apart from the Casbah, town hall, law courts, buildings, theatre, palace of the Governor, and casino, to form an elegant walk bordered by arcades which is today the Boulevard Che Guevara (formerly the Boulevard of the Republic).
  • Kouba (will daira of Hussein Dey District): Kouba is an old village which was absorbed by the expansion of the town of Algiers. Of village, Kouba quickly developed under the French colonial era then continued growing due to formidable demographic expansion that Algiers saw after the independence of Algeria in 1962. It is today a district of Algiers which is largely made up of houses, villas and buildings not exceeding five stories.
  • El Harrach, a suburb of Algiers, is located about 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the east of the city.
  • The communes of Hydra, Ben Aknoun, El-Biar and Bouzareah form what the inhabitants of Algiers call the heights of Algiers. These communes shelter the majority of the foreign embassies of Algiers, of many ministries and university centers, which makes it one of the administrative and policy centers of the country.
  • The street Didouche Mourade is located in the 3rd district of Algiers. It extends from the Grande Post office to the Heights of Algiers. It crosses in particular the Place Audin, the Faculty of Algiers, The Crowned Heart and the Park of Galland. It is bordered by smart stores and restaurants along most of its length. It is regarded as the heart of the capital.

Bologhine district © flickr.com - Damien Boilley/cc-by-2.0 Algiers at night © flickr.com - PhR61/cc-by-2.0 Great Mosque of Algiers © Ludovic Courtès/cc-by-sa-4.0 Notre Dame d'Afrique © Mehnimalik/cc-by-sa-3.0 Martyrs Square © flickr.com - Damien Boilley/cc-by-2.0 Monument of the Martyrs © Mehnimalik/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Bologhine district © flickr.com - Damien Boilley/cc-by-2.0
There are many public buildings of interest, including the whole Kasbah quarter, Martyrs Square (Sahat ech-Chouhada), the government offices (formerly the British consulate), the Great, New, and Ketchaoua Mosques, the Roman Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame d’Afrique, the Bardo Museum (a former Turkish mansion), the old Bibliothèque Nationale d’Alger—a Turkish palace built in 1799–1800—and the new National Library, built in a style reminiscent of the British Library. The main building in the Kasbah was begun in 1516 on the site of an older building, and served as the palace of the deys until the French conquest. A road has been cut through the centre of the building, the mosque turned into barracks, and the hall of audience allowed to fall into ruin. There still remain a minaret and some marble arches and columns. Traces exist of the vaults in which were stored the treasures of the dey. The Great Mosque is the oldest mosque in Algiers. It was first built by Yusuf ibn Tashfin, but reconstructed many times. The pulpit (minbar) bears an inscription showing that the building existed in 1097. The minaret was built by the sultan of Tlemcen, in 1324. The interior of the mosque is square and is divided into aisles by columns joined by Moorish arches. The New Mosque, dating from the 17th century, is in the form of a Greek cross, surmounted by a large white cupola, with four small cupolas at the corners. The minaret is 27 metres (89 ft) high. The interior resembles that of the Grand Mosque. The church of the Holy Trinity (built in 1870) stands at the southern end of the rue d’Isly near the site of the demolished Fort Bab Azoun. The interior is richly decorated with various coloured marbles. Many of these marbles contain memorial inscriptions relating to the British residents (voluntary and involuntary) of Algiers from the time of John Tipton, the first English consul, in 1580 (NB Some sources give 1585). One tablet records that in 1631 two Algerine pirate crews landed in Ireland, sacked Baltimore, and enslaved its inhabitants.

The Ketchaoua mosque, at the foot of the Casbah, was before independence in 1962 the cathedral of St Philippe, itself made in 1845 from a mosque dating from 1612. The principal entrance, reached by a flight of 23 steps, is ornamented with a portico supported by four black-veined marble columns. The roof of the nave is of Moorish plaster work. It rests on a series of arcades supported by white marble columns. Several of these columns belonged to the original mosque. In one of the chapels was a tomb containing the bones of San Geronimo. The building seems a curious blend of Moorish and Byzantine styles. Algiers possesses a college with schools of law, medicine, science and letters. The college buildings are large and handsome. The Bardo Museum in Tunisia holds some of the ancient sculptures and mosaics discovered in Algeria, together with medals and Algerian money. The port of Algiers is sheltered from all winds. There are two harbours, both artificial—the old or northern harbour and the southern or Agha harbour. The northern harbour covers an area of 95 hectares (235 acres). An opening in the south jetty affords an entrance into Agha harbour, constructed in Agha Bay. Agha harbour has also an independent entrance on its southern side. The inner harbour was begun in 1518 by Khair-ad-Din Barbarossa, who, to accommodated his pirate vessels, caused the island on which was Fort Penon to be connected with the mainland by a mole. The lighthouse which occupies the site of Fort Penon was built in 1544. Algiers was a walled city from the time of the deys until the close of the 19th century. The French, after their occupation of the city (1830), built a rampart, parapet and ditch, with two terminal forts, Bab Azoun to the south and Bab-el-Oued to the north. The forts and part of the ramparts were demolished at the beginning of the 20th century, when a line of forts occupying the heights of Bouzareah (at an elevation of 396 metres (1,299 ft) above the sea) took their place. Notre Dame d’Afrique, a church built (1858–1872) in a mixture of the Roman and Byzantine styles, is conspicuously situated overlooking the sea, on the shoulder of the Bouzareah hills, 3 km (2 mi) to the north of the city. Above the altar is a statue of the Virgin depicted as a black woman. The church also contains a solid silver statue of the archangel Michael, belonging to the confraternity of Neapolitan fishermen. Villa Abd-el-Tif, former residence of the dey, was used during the French period, to accommodate French artists, chiefly painters, and winners of the Abd-el-Tif prize, among whom Maurice Boitel, for a while of two years. Nowadays, Algerian artists are back in the villa’s studios.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Wikitravel Algiers, Wikivoyage Algiers and Wikipedia Algiers. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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