Casbah of Algiers
The Casbah (Arabic: قصبة, qaṣba, meaning citadel (fortress)) is specifically the citadel of Algiers in Algeria and the traditional quarter clustered around it. More generally, a kasbah is the walled citadel of many North African cities and towns. The name made its way into English from French in the late 19th century (the Oxford English Dictionary states 1895), and often is spelled "kasbah," but also "casbah."
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Area||60 ha (6,500,000 sq ft)|
|Criteria||Cultural: (ii), (v)|
|Inscription||1992 (16th Session)|
The Casbah of Algiers is founded on the ruins of old Icosium. It was a mid-sized city which, built on a hill, goes down towards the sea, divided in two: the High city and the Low city. One finds there masonries and mosques of the 17th century; Ketchaoua mosque (built in 1794 by the Dey Baba Hassan) flanked of two minarets, mosque el Djedid (1660, at the time of Turkish regency) with its large finished ovoid cupola points some and its four coupolettes, mosque El Kébir (oldest of the mosques, it was built by Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashfin and rebuilt later in 1794), mosque Ali Betchnin (Raïs, 1623), Dar Aziza, palate of Jénina. The Palace was built in 1791 to house the Pasha, who lived there for eight years.
In 1839, the French governor moved into the palace. In 1860, Napoleon III and Eugénie de Montijo visited. The Casbah played a central role during the Algerian struggle for independence (1954–1962). The Casbah was the epicenter of the insurgency planning of the National Liberation Front (FLN) and gave them a safe haven to plan and execute attacks against French citizens and law enforcement agents in Algeria at the time. In order to counter their efforts, the French had to focus specifically on the Casbah.
Algerian authorities list age, neglect and overpopulation as the principal contributors to the degeneration of this historic neighborhood. Overpopulation makes the problem especially difficult to solve because of the effort it would take to relocate everyone living there. Estimates range from 40,000–70,000 people, though it is difficult to track because of the number of squatters in vacant buildings. One reason that the government wants to improve the condition of the Casbah is that it is a potential hideout for criminals and terrorists. In the late 1950s and during the civil insurrection and struggle against French colonial rule it was the hideout for the National Liberation Army (Algeria).
Preservationist Belkacem Babaci described the situation as difficult, but not insurmountable, saying: “I still believe it’s possible to save it, but you need to empty it and you need to find qualified people who will respect the style, the materials. It’s a huge challenge.”
- Arabic Name Translator. "The Casbah (Arabic: قصبة, qaṣba, meaning citadel (fortress)) is specifically the citadel of Algiers in Algeria and the traditional quarter clustered around it. More generally, a kasbah is the walled citadel of many North African cities and towns."
- Tanya Reinhart Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 2011- Page 151 "The Jenin refugee camp and the Casbah in Nablus were considered by the Israeli army to be the toughest areas to conquer. Preparations to seize these areas began long in advance. In January 2002, Amir Oren reported in Ha'aretz that the ..."
- "Interior of Governors Palace, Algiers, Algeria". World Digital Library. 1899. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- William Maclean (2008-09-01). "REUTERS, William Maclean, Aug 31, 2008". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- "Algeria Channel". Algeria.com. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- "Wall Street Journal Blogs, The Informed Reader, July 5, 2007, 9:39 AM ET". Blogs.wsj.com. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2010-06-19.