Algiers is a myth, a mediterreanean dream city. Its colours are at times subtle, at other times vivid, but always in a shade of white and blue, reminders of its cool winters and warm summers.
It is sometimes called the "White City", "the joyous" and "the beloved". And beloved is Algiers indeed, dearly remembered by everyone who once lived there, runs along the coast with the seeming indolence of southern cities. For the longest time, it had been an open city you could get into by boat only. Algiers was a Phoenician commercial outpost during the Antiquity, before Spanish and Ottoman rules respectively. The Turks played a major part in developing the city, as the harbour was established by the infamous pirate Barbarossa.
From the seafront, the Place des Martyrs seems lined with Haussmannian-style buildings, and people like to take a walk in these large avenues, terraces and beautiful shops. In the old city, the casbah stretches along a hill that faces the sea. It is amidst these tortuous and narrow streets that the Algerian identity surfaced. Today, tourists visit Algiers first and foremost to find traces of this former iteration, full of life.
Initiatives have multiplied to renovate the casbah, mosques and various palaces and protect them from the ravages of time. Algiers is one of the most beautiful sites along the Mediterranean and constitutes a unique type of Islamic city, or medina, with Ottoman palaces, ancient mosques, and very dense urban and community structures. Well aware of the youth and of its cultural impact, this capital of three million souls live and feel the Chaabi, an Arabic-andalusian genre of folk music, to be found now on the internet and cafés alike.
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© Text and photography courtesy of EnVols