Religious Sites, Islam, Religion, Algeria

With Islam being the dominant religion of Algeria, it comes as no surprise that the majority of the country’s sacred and religious sites are connected to the Islamic faith. One or more mosques can be found in virtually every Algerian town and city. While the primary purpose of a mosque is as a center of worship, it is also a place for learning and for taking care of matters relating to the Islamic community it serves. With their beautifully shaped domes, spires and intricate decoration, the distinctive architecture of mosques generally makes them stand out among the surrounding buildings, and while tourists may not be permitted to enter them, mosques are nevertheless viewed as tourist attractions.

Of the many mosques found in Algeria, three stand out as having significant historical value – the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, the Great Mosque of Algiers, and the Ketchaoua Mosque in Algiers, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other mosques of note include the Al-Kawthar Mosque in Blida, Chiffa; the Lakhdaria Mosque in the northern Algerian town of Lakhdaria; the Mosque of Constantine and the Pasha Mosque in Oran.

Located on the north side of the city of Algiers on a cliff overlooking the bay, the Notre Dame d’Afrique, a Roman Catholic Church, was completed in 1872 and continues to serve as the basilica of Algiers. Lavishly decorated with mosaic patterns and religious pictures, the church has the following inscription on the curved wall behind the altar “Notre Dame d’Afrique priez pour nous et pour les Musulmans”, meaning “Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and for the Muslims”.

Algeria has a long, rather complicated history, in which religion has played a crucial role. Visiting some of the religious sites in Algeria will give tourists some insight into an aspect of daily life that is of great importance to the people who call this fascinating country home.

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