Great Mosque of Algiers, Algiers, Algeria
Located on the Rue de la Marine in Algeria's capital city, the Great Mosque of Algiers is a superb example of Almoravid architecture, one of the few remaining in North Africa. The Great Mosque of Algiers, also known as the El Jedid Mosque, was built in 1097 under the direction of Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1142), an Almoravid ruler. In 1324 the Sultan of Tlemcen, Abu Tachfin added the minaret at the northwestern corner, and a gallery outside the mosque was added in 1840 when the French reconstructed the street.
The Great Mosque of Algiers is square in shape with a row of white marble columns joined by arches along the side facing the street. The interior of the mosque is a series of hallways, passages and rooms, with the common theme of pillars and archways throughout the building. Intricate mosaics adorn the floors and walls. The main building looks onto a courtyard, across from the galleries and prayer hall. The prayer hall is divided into 11 naves, each covered by a double sloping roof. The original mihrab – an arched niche indicating the direction of Mecca – was destroyed during a conflict in 1682 and the replacement mihrab has as its only decoration, two small spiral columns flanking it.
Islam is the dominant religion in Algeria and the many mosques found throughout the country bear testimony to the importance of religion in the everyday lives of Algerians. When exploring the vibrant city of Algiers, you may want to add a visit to the Great Mosque of Algiers to your itinerary.