Friday, May 09, 2008

The Casbah

Built in the XVI century, this wonderful architectural ensemble lies down over 1,5 hectare. This micro-city organised around a central place has been called the Casbah, a name extended to the berber and ottoman houses sizing the hill of the moorish city.

Recalling to our memories the period of the Ottoman regency of Algiers. This place is since 1992 classifed the by the UNESCO as being part of world architectual heritage.

It is in a climat of extreme violence, after the assasination of several kings of Algiers that Dey Ali Khodja decided to quite the El-jenina palace to establish his head-quarters in this fortifed place.

At that time the original casbah was organised around blocks delimiting the king official from its private life. Facing the residence of the Beys,the visitor will find in the eastern part of the palace a powder magazin as well as the central palace housing the official hall. Behind this structure, the Dey's private appartemts, called also the harem, are protected by the yaniceri block. The private mosque of the king and his family lies immediatly after.

In the casbah the taxes collected by the beys of the Titerri, the eastern and western provinces were refunded to the dey of Algiers which in turn had to transfert them to Istanbul authorities ; The Dey Arroudj Hussein was the last king of Algiers to be nominated by the Ottoman authorities tu rule Algiers and its dependent provinces as a source of wealth for the Ottmani empire.

The Casbah is mostly famous for helding the "fan incident"; a French pretext for occupying Algeria 130 years.
In 1830, after the french army took control of algiers, the dey's apartment were occupied by the General-in chief of the Army. In 1847, the Harem was transformed into the General headquaterters of the Army before being occupied by tailors and shoemakers. As the Guardroom of the Turkish guards called the Yaniceri was occupied by the Canteen managers, the private mosque of the Dey was transformed into barracks for artillerymen.

Another mosque called Djamaa el barani, which is adjoined to the casbah was transformed into a church and baptised sainte croix church

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am architect, working as a teacher at School of architecture of Algiers. I would like to correct something: houses in ancient ottoman algiers are not turkish houses: they are ALGERIAN houses built at that time by, exclusively, algerian workers! It is very important. In Turkey, houses are very, very different. Thank you. Cherif Douja