Cities and Regions

Oran was established by the Andalusian Arabs. It is located on the Gulf of Oran on the Mediterranean coast, and is Algeria’s second largest city. It has grown to accommodate its 900,000 inhabitants but it remains congested, especially near the old garden district. The quick expansion and the often-changing French street names make it difficult to navigate the city.

Ravine Street divides the city: to the west are the old port and the casbah, the old citadel with a Spanish Moorish flavor. The buildings are being dismantled and replaced with new buildings. To the east side is the modern quarter, 18th century neighborhood built by the French. It is larger than the casbah, its center of November 1st plaza near the town hall and the National Theatre.

The city’s main artery is Abdel Qader Boulevard, lined with shops, travel agencies, airline offices, and restaurants. Some of the cross streets are green with palm trees. The main shopping area is on Ben Mahdi Boulevard. The Chateau Neuf was built by the Spanish in 1563 and has been restored as a hotel.

The city was captured by the Spanish in 1509. It was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1708 till 1831 when it fell under French rule. Today it is a main port and commercial and cultural center for the country. There are ferry connections to European cities across the Mediterranean.

Basha Turki Mosque( Grand Mosque) was built to celebrate the end of Spanish rule in 1796. It has an octagonal minaret is one of Oran’s landmarks. Santa Cruz Fort was built in the 16th century and overlooks the city and its environs.

Heading out of town to the west along the city’s corniche is the Fort de la Moune, farther out a large port with a naval base, and still farther out are beautiful beaches that are a tourist attraction. To the east of Oran is a small, scenic fishing harbor.

Oran is the birthplace of Rai music, which is a mixture of folk, Spanish, French, Arabic music. It is also the birthplace of French writer Albert Camus.