Saturday, February 28, 2009


Again considered a dangerous area by many locals it is nice to visit to see a real working-class district of Algeria. Women may wish to cover up a bit more here and all people should be a bit more careful about money, phones and cameras. However, saying that I have found people here to be the friendliest in the capital and despite the negative image they have, they are arm and welcoming. The seafront here is a nice place to walk, offering beautiful views up to the church of Notre Dame d'Afrique. The seafront promenade is new and clean, having been rebuilt following the floods of 2003 which devastated the area. The small Jardin de Prague is a nice square, offering a pleasant place to sit and relax amongst the trees but turning right from here brings you to the crowded market streets of Bab-El-Oued. Noise and confusion rule here and it is one of the best places in the city to get cheap traditional fast food. The area is certainly more Islamic in feel than other areas and the Islamic parties had strong support here during the 1990s, and Bab El Oued became something of a no-go area. In fact the mosques here were known to be rather too fanatical and this led to a government crackdown on what the imams were actually preaching. The area was the site of the first big riots that triggered the calls for multi-party elections in 1988 and the beginning of the ensuing problems. As such it is interesting to see where the troubles all began, and to get a feel of the life of the less affluent in Algiers. The area is largely safe and the common street sense that needs to be employed in any poorer district of any large city is all the precaution you need. There are no real sights: the atmosphere alone is the reason to come here. The area houses a large and lively street market and there are many small traditional cafes and eating places though only men would be able to enter. At prayer times the streets are filled with the faithful praying as there is no room in the mosques, making for a fantastic sight. Things are a bit more ramshackle here but the French-built buildings are still beautiful and there are a fair few grand structures dotted around.




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