Algiers Casbah Restoration on the Cards
The Algiers Casbah is a very important part of the history of Algeria, as it was constructed against the hills overlooking Algiers in the sixteenth century during the Ottoman rule. It has been the scene of war, natural disasters, conflict and pirate raids for centuries, and survived. But now, the great Algiers Casbah is facing destruction once again. Not from conflict but through years of neglect. Historians, residents and developers in Algeria have finally been heard by the government that is now putting together restoration projects with the hope of saving the magnificent ancient city.
Walking through the streets of the Algiers Casbah, consisting of a maze of narrow streets and alleys, allows visitors to visualize the once bustling trading post in its glory days. Imagining the splendor of the palaces, girls giggling while collecting water from the beautiful fountains and the sounds of traders and merchants going about their daily lives, transports visitors to the early days of the Casbah. But the half broken buildings, squalor and decaying walls brings one back to the reality and the urgency of restoring this once spectacular site.
Overpopulation, squatting and unconcerned landlords have also contributed to the demise of the Casbah, leaving some of the older residents who have stayed in the Algiers Casbah all their lives to try and maintain their four hundred year old homes amongst the mayhem and deterioration of the city. Without help from the government, it has been an uphill battle that some residents have not been able to fight, and thus have moved away to other cities. If the approximately one thousand two hundred homes could be restored, overpopulation addressed by re-homing residents and the other noteworthy sites can be rebuilt, the Algiers Casbah will once again become the number one tourist attraction in Algeria. It will also be able to present the uniqueness and wonder that earned it its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1992. When looking at the Hassan Pacha Palace that is currently under reconstruction and renovation, revealing its breathtaking marble, mosaics and elegance, it is hard to believe that anyone allowed this stunning city to fall into disrepair.
But the government has had their attention drawn to issues, such as political violence, in the last few years, with little time being spent on maintaining historical sites such as the Algiers Casbah. The new initiatives and projects have started bringing hope to people that the Casbah’s magnificence will be restored completely in the future. Introducing general services, such as electricity, water, gas and security, have been amongst of the top priorities, and it is hoped that the funding and projects will start bringing the ancient city back to life. Even though it is felt by many that these efforts have come too late, as many buildings have completely collapsed, the restoration is still a welcome sight, ensuring that the Algiers Casbah will still be around for tourists and future generations to enjoy.