Algeria's Architectural Heritage - Reflections of a Fascinating History
Algeria's architecture is interesting and diverse. Since the country has virtually always been a crossroads between east and west, it has seen many different cultural and architectural influences over the years. In ancient times, Algeria's strategic position meant that the major military powers of the time would do their utmost to gain control over it. As a result, Algeria has seen Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Arab, Turk and French invasion, each leaving their own distinctive influence on the country.
With each conquest, new buildings where constructed and changes where made to government. Whilst not all these ancient cultures have a significantly notable bearing on the architecture in Algeria today, there are a few who have. The most notable is that of the Arab invasions which has perhaps had the most lasting and extensive effect. There are, however, signs of other cultures all over the country - from Phoenician road signs to ancient Roman ruins or French-speaking Arabs.
Most find that the best place to start a tour of the country's architecture is in Algiers. The city was founded over a thousand years ago and has seen beautiful ancient masterpieces survive alongside somewhat newer additions. The old part of the city is the best place to head if you want to see historical buildings. The Casbah, with its crowded lanes and markets, is supported and surrounded by some beautiful old buildings. You will also find 11th century Mosques and Moorish palaces here. Other places worth seeing are the El Aurassi Hotel, the Aldjazair Hotel, the Sofitel Alger Hotel and the Jardin d' Essai. You might even venture to stay in one or more of these graceful buildings.
Once you've seen all you can in Algiers, you might try a tour of the surrounding towns as you head out towards Timgad. Timgad features a number of beautiful and important Roman ruins. The ruins are well preserved due to the natural Algerian atmosphere and you will be able to see delightful mosaics, an amphitheater and a number of other artifacts. Other interesting architecture in Algeria features French-colonial style fortresses, unique rounded mud-huts in rural areas and ancient colossal Arab-styled homes. Mosques and other religious buildings also tend to show interesting trends in architecture. Of course, recent times have seen the building of newer, more modern structures but these too may be of interest to you and should not be overlooked. If you're going to Algeria soon, take a tour of the many varied and beautiful architectural delights to be found in this unique country. You don't have to be a builder or an architect to appreciate the graceful array of buildings.