The Magnificent Ketchaoua Mosque in Algiers
Algiers is the capital city of Algeria, as well as the largest city in the country. The city is rich in Algerian tradition and history, with numerous monuments, museums, historical buildings and other places of interest for tourists to visit. One of the fascinating sites to visit in Algiers is the ancient Ketchaoua Mosque.
Situated in the Kasbah of Algiers, the Ketchaoua Mosque has a long and interesting history. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Ketchaoua Mosque was strategically placed at the center of the city at the point where the roads from the lower Kasbah led out to the five gates of the city. This was a district that contained grand family palaces owned by the wealthy and influential political and commercial figures of the Ottoman Regency. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Ottoman Empire dominated territory in three continents including large areas of Southeastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Remnants of the Ottoman Empire’s influence are still found in architecture throughout these territories.
It is believed, but not proven, that a mosque had occupied the site of the Ketchaoua Mosque since the 14th century. However, the only documentation of the mosque’s existence is a notarial document dated in 1612. According to the commemorative inscription, the Ketchaoua Mosque was rebuilt by Hasan Pasha in the latter part of the 18th century. In 1838 the mosque became the St. Philippe Cathedral and in 1940 a cross was placed on top of the building under the direction of Marshal Sylvain Valee of France – the conqueror of the Algerian city of Constantine. In 1962 the cathedral was converted to the Ketchaoua Mosque.
Overlooking a public square, the mosque has twin minarets rising up either side of the three-arched entranceway. The mosque is of Byzantine and Moorish design with graceful archways, black and white marble columns and beautiful decorations throughout. A tomb with the remains of San Geronimo is housed in one of the mosque chambers.
With the development of the city of Algiers crowding in on it, the Ketchaoua Mosque may not stand out as prominently as it did in by-gone days. Nonetheless, this mosque-turned-cathedral-turned-mosque bears testimony to the history of Algiers. It also serves as a symbol of the restitution of the Ketchaoua Mosque to Islam and is seen as having significant religious and cultural importance. Visitors to the Algerian capital of Algiers should include the Ketchaoua Mosque on their list of interesting places to see.