Cities in Algeria
A city with superb architecture and a welcome and refreshing proximity to both fresh water and fertile farmland, Annaba is definitely one of Algeria’s most beautiful cities. Beauty aside, Annaba is an extremely important city, with its port handling the majority of the country’s mineral exports. But it’s the history and culture of Annaba that give it such a charm; it was the city in which St Augustine lived out his final years, and the city now has a reputation of being a tranquil haven, much aided by its idyllic sea views and white tropical sand. Thankfully, this peaceful city avoided much of the violence of the 1990s, and thus, the elegant colonial-period center remains intact, complementing the beauty of the coastline.
Tlmecen boasts a rich history and diverse culture and is now a melting pot for various music and artistic styles. The textiles and handicrafts here are beautiful examples of Berber and Arab-Andalusian heritage, and the architecture is spectacular also, with the mosque standing as a stunning architectural masterpiece and one of the oldest and best preserved Almoravid buildings in the whole of the country. Tlemcen is idyllic, framed by the majestic mountains and still enshrined in artisan charm.
Algeria’s third city, Constantine is a great symbol of pride for the north. It arose out of its natural surroundings, having been protected by a deep gorge around an outcrop of rock that formed a natural fortress. A city of great political, cultural, and economic significance, Constantine has an enchanting ambiance and is still rife with a sense of fantasy despite its cosmopolitan and modern movements. Indeed Constantine now spreads much further than its original natural fortress, but it is a city that stays true to its origins. Beautiful if not in its story then in its music, Constantine boasts a thriving Arab-Andalusian music scene that is yet another way it manages to enchant and entice those who both live there and visit.
Part of a pentapolis, Ghardaia is in fact only one of five hilltop cities built almost a thousand years ago in the M’Zab valley. Long serving as a major center of date production and for the manufacture of rugs and cloths, Ghardaia is an enchanting experience for all the senses. Divided into three walled sectors, this unique and charming little fortified town boasts a historic center, complete with an intriguing pyramid style mosque. Once described by the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir as “a cubist painting beautifully constructed”, Ghardaia deservedly makes the list of the most beautiful places in Algeria.
This oasis in the beautiful and vast Sahara desert is characterized by its shifting sand dunes, palm groves, and much-needed salt lake. The magnificent sand dunes that rise and fall in the distance make for a spectacular and mind-blowing backdrop to an already enchanting town. Timimoun, like any other place, and despite its small size, has its old district. The old district, otherwise known as the Ksour, boasts a similar form of architecture to that found in Taghit – the intense, red washed mud walls that are widely known as Sudanese architecture. With homes that almost come to life in their animated fashion which makes them seem like they are climbing over one another, Timimoun is a town with a spirit. In the newer part of town, the French influence is evident, but with much of the original architectural styles being drawn upon to maintain some continuity in this beautiful town. Notably, due to the late abolition of slavery, African influences are still evident here, especially via the gobbas – buildings dedicated to the marabout. Small in size but rich in culture, history, and aesthetic delights, Timimoun is indeed a beautiful place.
Djanet is unique and alternative with whitewashed buildings and bright blue doors lining the main street and marked by dark blue and gold lampposts. It is almost reminiscent of an English seaside town. This charming setting is ideally located in the surroundings of majestic mountains that overlook the town. Inside, there’s a charming little town center, complete with all the standard necessities: post office, bank, basic shops. Djanet bursts to life on the weekend when it attracts quite a few tourists, most of whom flock here to admire the stunning collection of rock paintings in the nearby national park.
This fascinating city is a lively port that boasts a rich history and animated pace of life. Rife with its own history and culture, Oran is famous for having contributed in particular to North Africa’s liveliest musical movement raj. The open bay offers an idyllic and tranquil escape from the bustling city streets, and said streets offer an insight into the Spanish and French past of the city. Modern Oran is divided into a refreshing waterfront, plus both an old and a new city, each section with its own unique charm and architectural landmarks.
Close in proximity but not in nature to the aforementioned Constantine, Batna is a welcomed continuation of the Moroccan Atlas mountains and lies just north of the beginning of the stunning Sahara. Now the fifth biggest city in Algeria, Batna started life as a French military fortress, enabling the French access to both the Sahara and the Atlas mountains. Today, Batna is an agricultural hub that proudly stands as the main market center for the region. The vibrant and animated ambiance of the city gives it its own unique beauty, with numerous cinemas and bustling cultural centers. Outside the cultural centers, the city boasts beautiful French-styled rectangular streets and tree-lined avenues.
Last but not least is the capital, Algiers. Boasting two of the country’s most beautiful mosques, it has to make this list. Located on the stunning bay of the Mediterranean sea, Algiers is a modern and metropolitan city whose roots of over 1000 years are still evidence. It is a city that never fails to make an impression with its rare beauty and almost disorienting architectural contrasts. With wide French-built boulevards and elegant villas alongside traditional and historic Islamic landmarks, including the enchanting Kasbah, its architectural fusion serves to emphasize the beauty of the city, giving it the charm of the French while retaining the beauty of the historic Islamic settlement. The enchanting labyrinthine streets leading to the stunning and oh-so-natural bay of Algiers are yet another of many stamps of beauty that this city has to offer.