Kasbah of Algiers (1992)

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The Kasbah is a unique kind of medina, or Islamic city. It stands in one of the finest coastal sites on the Mediterranean, overlooking the islands where a Carthaginian trading-post was established in the 4th century B.C. The Kasbah contains the remains of the citadel, old mosques and Ottoman-style palaces as well as the vestiges of a traditional urban structure associated with a deep-rooted sense of community. 
  • Algeria 1944. Ottoman Summer Palace, Algeria. 

Algeria 1944. Ottoman Summer Palace, Algeria.

The city of Algiers is divided into two sections. The lower part is the modern city, built by the French, with wide boulevards, theaters, cathedrals, museums, an opera house, and many educational institutions, including the University of Algiers and several Muslim schools. 

Algeria 1926. Street in the Kasbah of Algiers.

The upper part is the old city, with narrow, twisting streets dominated by the Casbah, a 16th-century fortress built by the Ottomans, which lends its name to the entire quarter. With the post-World War II population increase, and the crowding in the native quarter, suburbs have burgeoned. 
  • Algeria 1926. Street in the Kasbah of Algiers. 

By 1200 bc the Phoenicians had colonized the site and set up a coastal trading post. Following the Punic Wars, Algiers, then called Icosium, became (146 BC) part of the Roman Empire and remained Roman until the middle of the 5th century, when it was overrun by the Vandals. Next, it was ruled by the Byzantines, who, in turn, were ousted in 650 by Arabs. 

The present city was founded about 950 by Berbers. During the next five centuries control of the city was gained and lost by various European, Arabian, and Berber warlords. In 1510 Spain captured and fortified the islet in front of the harbor, known as the Peńón. In 1518 Algiers proclaimed itself part of the Ottoman Empire, and the Spanish were driven out. 
  • Algeria 1941. Aerial view of Algiers. 

While ruled by the Ottomans, it became the capital of the infamous Barbary Coast. For 300 years Barbary pirates preyed upon European, and later United States, shipping. 

Algeria 1941. Aerial view of Algiers.

Algeria 1930. Bay of Algiers with the fortress in the background.

In 1815 the American naval captain Stephen Decatur led an expedition against Algiers, forcing its governor to sign a peace treaty promising to end attacks on U.S. ships. 

The piracy continued, however, and in 1816 the combined Dutch and British navies almost completely destroyed the Algerian fleet. 

  • Algeria 1930. Bay of Algiers with the fortress in the background. The stamp was issued for the centenary of Algeria. 

Algiers remained a pirate port until 1830, when France, retaliating against attacks on its vessels, captured the city and, in time, the entire country. They retained control until 1962, when Algeria won independence. During World War II, Algiers served (1942-44) as the headquarters of Allied forces in North Africa and of the Free French government of General Charles de Gaulle. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Algeria (on this website). Eventually refer to the UNESCO-listing, Algeria-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999-2007 Ann Mette Heindorff 
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