Notre Dame d'Afrique
Notre Dame d'Afrique - Our Lady of Africa - is a Roman Catholic basilica quite difficult to reach. It stands on the hill in the northern part of Algiers, quite far from the centre, and absolutely impossible to reach unless you ask for directions, because there are no panels or inscriptions whatsoever. Even though I went there with a local, we had to ask lots of times and get back from the wrong route taken before we reached the destination. It didn't strike me as a popular place to be, although there is a small "park" - benches overlooking the city - quite an impressive view as a matter of fact! But it was very quiet and definitely not touristy. We were the only ones inside the church, beside the old French church-keeper.
Inside there is a statue of the black Virgin!
The inscriptions inside were interesting:
-"Notre Dame d'Afrique, priez pour Nous et pour les Musulmans" - our lady of Africa, pray for us and the Muslims;
-"Pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ceux qu’on aime." - There is no greater love than to give one’s life for the sake of loved ones.
- "L'amour fraternel vient de Dieu et est Dieu même"- Brotherly love comes from God and is God itself.
The inscriptions are written in French, Arabic and Berber language.
Translation thanks to Jean-Louis (JLBG).
Basilica was built in 19th century.
The Casbah dates back from the Ottoman era. It's the old town of Algiers, and I was told by Algerians that the French never went into during their 130 years of occupation.
However, Jealn-Louis (JLBG) clarified the issue:
"When Algeria was « a part of France », of course the French went into the
casbah. During the struggle for independence, it was a stronghold of the FLN and
the French army had to struggle hard (and dirty) to win the “bataille d’Alger”.
The army finally won militarily but lost politically."
The name Casbah comes from Arabic Qasba, which means citadel, or the labyrinth (as my Algerian friends told me). Before it used to be the classy part of the town, and nowadays it's the place of the poorer part of the inhabitants of Algiers. It needs serious refurbishment, but precisely for its ruined state it is so remarkable and exciting. Inside there are still old artisans, some museums, old water fountains, beautiful doors...
My Algerian friends told me that after 4pm the place gets "dangerous" (insecure) so try to visit it before that hour. And the best of course is to go there with a local, although if you're prudent and use common sense, you can go on your own as well.
A funny thing is that some of my Algerian friends have never been to Casbah, even though they live in Algiers or nearby!
Casbah of Algiers is listed on the UNESCO world heritage list.
El Djedid mosque (Djamaa El-Djedid)
I found this mosque extremely beautiful and original - so white and small, simple, yet very pretty. It's in the centre, at the Martyr square, and there is a large plateau in front of it. It was built in the 17th century.
Don't miss a walk down the seafront promenade, although it's very far from the sea itself. I don't think it was the smartest idea to make entire seafront of Algiers blocked in a port and industrial mess (reminds me of Belgrade, only on a larger scale, we also have industry and trash on the riverside whereas all cities logically have the most beautiful walking areas by the river/sea). Seaside of Algiers is swallowed by the huge industrial and port mess, bus and train stations, but still, this nice street overlooks sea and it's the closest to it, speaking of centre. There are nice areas for chill out.
Palais du Raïs - The Bastion 23
The bastion, or Palais du Raïs is now a museum that is a mini-casbah in itself - the architecture and organization of the houses inside, typical doors, hamam, but also a seafront "terrace" with a canon and guns niches, as it served in defense purposes in the past. Inside it features a nice collection of photos from Algeria as well as some items. It's well kept, very neat and stylish.
La Grande Poste
The most beautiful post office I've ever been to. It was built by the French in 1913 in neo-moorish style, and it's in the very heart of Algiers, on it most spacious and most beautiful square. Do not miss to get inside even if you don't want to send letters, it's a piece of art both inside and outside (especially inside!)
Emir Abd El-Kader statue
A monument to the warrior from the resistance revolution, emir Abd El-Kader. It's also a square in the centre of Algiers, and you inevitably walk onto it if you're following the main street.
Jean-Louis (JLBG) explained that Place Emir Abd El-Kader before the independence was called Place Général Bugeaud and that it is somewhat absurd, as Bugeaud was the French General that in 1837-1844 won over Abd El-Kader, the leader of the resistance to the French army!
Notre Dame D'Afrique
The cathedral is considered as a counterpiece of the real Notre Dame in Marsille (Notre Dame De La Garde), on other side of Mediterrenean. It was built in mid-1800's when Frech colonization took place in the country, and is a mix of Roman and Byzantine styles.
It stands high above the city of Algiers, with excellent views overlooking the Metiterrenean.
The interior is very peaceful, and has an inscription in Arabic, French and Berber which reads "Pray for us and the Muslims"
It is extremely well preserved, although there is no information in English!
- Historical Travel
Serbian Military Cemetery from the WWI
The graveyard was formed between 1916 and 1919, when there were several French military hospitals in the area of Algiers. Sick, wounded and exhausted Serbian soldiers were transported there for treatment and healing from the Greek islands of Vido and Corfu, where the conditions were poor. Serbian Army arrived to Greece after long and lethal withdrawal from Serbia, escaping German and Bulgarian aggressive pressure. Half of them died withdrawing through Albania towards Greece, freezing on the snow without warm clothes and no food. Many of them continued dying in Greece, and later on in the allies' hospitals in Northern Africa, including Algiers.
Originally, the graveyard was at Tamenfoust (originally Cap Matifou), but it was moved to Dely Ibrahim in 1982.
There are 324 Serbian soldiers buried here.
Next to it there are British and German military cemeteries.
The church is no longer in very active religious use, but it does let space to some organisations, such as The women’s and children’s information centre, CIDDEF, is based at Sacré Coeur Cathedral.
It is in the wider area of the centre of Algiers.
The church has a very unusual shape. It was designed by Le Corbusier.
The Casbah - inside a typical household
Strolling within the narrow streets of Casbah we met a nice and very kind lady who showed us around and invited us to see her house. We climbed to the top and it was a stunning view! The woman was very chatty and friendly, and told us about her life in the Casbah.
Martyr Monument (Makam Ech-Chahid)
You can see this huge monument from practically anywhere in the city. it stands on the top of the hill and overlooks the Bay of Algiers. it was "inaugurated" in 1982, celebrating 20 years of Algerian independence from France. It's a monument to the revolution, but odd enough, it was built by Canada!!!??? My Algerian friends told me that Algeria borrowed money to Canada (?!) and they didn't have/want to pay back (?!?!) so they decided to build this massive monument in return. Hm. Odd! But so they say. It's not the prettiest monument you've seen, but it's certainly an imposant landmark.
Unfortunately the police don't let you cross the round plateau, and if you want to see the view, the bay and all, you have to get off from the monument area, cross the street and go around stepping over grass and something not meant for pedestrians in order to admire the view. Pity!
Near the monument there is a large shopping centre with restaurants, cinemas and gyms and the museum of the revolution. There is a museum of the moudjahedine inside the Martyr monument itself.
British and German military cemeteries
Besides Serbian, there are also British and German military cemeteries. They are bigger and gravestones are larger and in better conditions. In German cemetery there is a central "cube" where only there lie remains of 500 soldiers, plus the individual graves that you can see on the photo.
The famous Casbah of Algiers was built in the early 16th century as an Ottoman Fort and palace for the local ruler and is wonderful to explore the narrow streets, with houses and shops. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. Some of it is well preserved - there are some stunning doorways to homes, but it needs funds to renovate its 50 hectares.
It is advisable to hire a guide when you visit the Casbah, as it is easy to get lost and there is a risk of crime, mostly robbery, against tourists who go there alone.
- Historical Travel
This is a very interesting museum featuring items from Algerian prehistory till post-revolution times. The most significant part of the museum is dedicated to the revolution against French occupation, and the era of the president Houari Boumediene. There are some photos with our (ex-Yugoslav ) president Tito as well, they were great mates in the nonaligned countries community.
Photographing is prohibited, you will have to leave all personal belongings at the reception, including mobile phones.
Entrance fee is funny, only 5 Algerian Dinars (1 EUR = 110 DA when I visited), thus only 4,5 euro cents!!!!!!!