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Algeria, Algiers: Fusion of European and Islamic Architecture

Published: 3.5.2023
The original Arab name of the Algerian capital means Islands. It refers to four islands by the Algerian shore, which later became part of mainland.

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As it is usual for Mediterranean cities even Algiers origin lies in the ancient times. It used to be part of Phoenician empire, the former sea power. Then it used to be part of several other empires such as the Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire and roughly two centuries ago it became a French colony. As well as in other parts of Africa (Rwanda, Senegal nebo Morocco) France was pretty engaged there and left there huge cultural influence even after the colonies split. Algeria seceded in the year of 1962 after the war with France.


Even today, in local cafes, you can hear elderly men reminiscing about their experiences in the Franco-Algerian war and their hiding from French paratroopers. It was not the last conflict the country went through, in the 1990s there was a civil war during which around 200,000 people reportedly died. In the present, in Algiers, about 10% of the Algerian. population live in the capital, which is a natural engine of country’s economy. Mediterraean climate is typical for the city and temperatures often get over 40 degrees. From  broaden architectonic perspective the architecture of Algiers is a combination of European and Islamic style. One of the major symbols of Islamic architecture is Great Mosque is located near harbor in 1097.

Algiers - minaret

Its only minaret was built only at the beginning of the 14th century. Except of this the mosque is located in Kasbah. It is a part of the city, which in North Africa villages and towns used to be a fortress protecting locals from raiders. Local prominent families and leaders who had Kasbah were considered to be wealthy. At the beginning of the 19th century, Algiers had three Kasbahs.

Notre Dame d'Afrique

Notre Dame d’Afrique represents European heritage. This catholic cathedral was opened in the year of 1872 and its architect, Jean Eugène Fromageau, included some neo-Byzantine elements and he put there a inscription: „Our Lady Africa prays for us and Muslims as well.“ You can get to the cathedral via the cableway The cableway will take you to a rock 124 meters above the sea.

Maqam Echahid

Another, more modern construction is Maqam Echahid, Martyrs’ Memorial. It was finished in 1982 and it stands as a symbol of Alegerian independence. Its shape represents three palm leaves leaning on each other. The leaves protect eternal flame and by every leaf there is a soldier. Each soldier symbolizes a phase of Algerian fight for independence.

Djamaa Ketchaoua

Djamaa Ketchaoua is a landmark that immediately attracts one attention. Originally, it was a mosque built at the beginning of the 17th century. In the middle of the 19th century, French rebuilt it to a cathedral. However, after the French-Algerian war the cathedral once again became a mosque. Eventually, the images included in the article speak for themselves.

Djamaa Ketchaoua

GPS: 36°44'36.6"N 3°04'47.7"E

Text: Maxim Kucer

Photo: Pixabay.com, Wikipedia.org - Bachounda1, Algor95, Tripiit, Mac9, Poudou99, Mehnimalik, Ludovic

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