daily menu » rate the banner | guess the city | one on oneforums map | privacy policy | DMCA | news magazine | posting guidelines

Go Back   SkyscraperCity > World Forums > Architecture

Architecture news and discussions on all buildings types and urban spaces
» Classic Architecture | European Classic Architecture and Landscapes | Public Space | Shopping Architecture | Design & Lifestyle | Urban Renewal and Redevelopment



Global Announcement

As a general reminder, please respect others and respect copyrights. Go here to familiarize yourself with our posting policy.


Reply

 
Thread Tools
Old September 1st, 2008, 05:29 AM   #1
hkskyline
Hong Kong
 
hkskyline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 86,508
Likes (Received): 17832

Algiers' Crumbling Casbah

FEATURE-A ray of hope for Algeria's crumbling Casbah?


Source : http://www.pbase.com/carine_iriarte/

ALGIERS, Sept 1 (Reuters) - From cutlass and canon to earthquake and flood, powerful forces have long done damage to the Algiers Casbah, fabled bastion of Barbary pirates who plied the Mediterranean for centuries in defiance of European power.

But the deadliest of the many blows suffered by Algiers' disintegrating old quarter may actually be contemporary -- neglect by successive governments of modern Algeria.

The few outsiders who visit tend to wonder why this U.N. World Heritage site with an epic past woven deeply into Mediterranean history should be at risk of collapse -- and in a north African state earning $1 billion a week from oil and gas.

The answer is a lack of political will, Algerians say. Oil wealth has meant tourism has been a low priority, despite the powerful attraction this haunting Ottoman settlement could exert on Western tourists in search of the exotic and educational.

The result is that the labyrinth of alleys, palaces and fountains clinging to a steep hill above Algiers port is now a fissure-ridden slum of mostly greying, rotting buildings. Many of the population of more than 30,000 live in squalor.

"This is our culture and our soul and we should protect it," says construction official Fatah Abdelaoui, his voice echoing in the cool interior of Hassan Pasha palace, an elegant structure of marble and mosaics currently under renovation.

"CASBAH IN DANGER"

"The Casbah is in danger, and we must save it before it is too late," historian Belkacem Babaci said, reflecting a pride found everywhere among the tottering huddle of walled houses.

"If we restore the Casbah, it would become our number one touristic product," he said, adding that of the roughly 1,200 houses in the 36-hectare (89-acre) site, 136 were in good condition but 600 needed urgent work.

The Casbah began as a Phoenician trading post in antiquity but in its current form dates to 16th-century Ottoman rule, when it emerged as a power under Aruj and Kheir ad-Din Barbarossa, pirate brothers dreaded by their European shipping prey.

Italian renaissance master Fra Filippo Lippi and Spanish poet and novelist Miguel de Cervantes were among the tens of thousands of Europeans abducted by Algiers corsairs and held for ransom in the Casbah's dungeons or enslaved by wealthy families.

The town was a centre of Algerian resistance against French forces in Algeria's 1954-1962 war of independence, a struggle portrayed in the 1966 film "The Battle of Algiers" by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who shot much of it in the Casbah.

It was also a stronghold of Islamist guerrillas in the early 1990s at the start of a revolt against the army-backed government that has now largely died down. Security is greatly improved in the Casbah, residents, officials and diplomats say.

But the idea of using its story to generate tourism, development and jobs, and shore up political stability and fight poverty, has never ranked highly with Algeria's rulers.

The town, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, was declared a protected site in Algerian law only in 2003.

The government's defenders say it has had to give priority to security as Algeria emerged from the bloodshed of the 1990s, and to meet an urgent need for modern housing.

Abdelkader Ammour, the Casbah-born President of the Casbah Foundation, a private conservation group, says neglect by the state became so profound at one point that there was talk for a time of removing the Casbah from the UNESCO list.

But he says people in power have shown recent signs of taking restoration more seriously. An example is a 300 million dinars ($4.8 million) plan announced in March to shore up the walls of houses in imminent danger of falling over.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

The money is a fraction of the sum that may eventually be needed. But it is meant to be followed by more which Ammour hopes will be distributed to house owners who can use the sums as seed capital to obtain bank loans to fund further works.

Authority for renovation has been handed to the culture ministry, simplifying management. Previously authority was shared by several bodies, slowing decision-making. But much remains unclear, including the extent of future state support.

Ammour said: "We've woken up very late" to the Casbah's plight. A series of similar initiatives in the past 20 years all failed. Obstacles have been many -- disputes over legal title to the buildings, overcrowding and periodic political violence.

Some people deliberately damaged their homes in the mistaken hope of resettlement in state housing elsewhere -- a consequence of a now-abandoned bid to rehouse the population and allow a mass renovation unimpeded by residents.

Also, an expectation persists that the state will pay for all repairs, residents say. Most Casbah homes are owned privately, many of them by absentee landlords.

"The Casbah is our inheritance and we want to keep it. But it's up to the government to help us renovate," said Baretsha Fadloune, 66, who rents out rooms in his dilapidated house.

There are other social problems. Many original inhabitants moved out on independence from France in 1962. Others moved in, and then rented out rooms to families fleeing political turmoil in the countryside or seeking jobs in the city.

Once a close community of city people, the Casbah now has a shifting population where rural traditions have taken hold and many of the crafts and skills of urban building have been lost.

Most state-sponsored renovation to date has been by artisans from outside of the Casbah and is poor, say some residents.

Moulidj Hajd Zubir, 75, has spent years restoring a 400-year-old villa that was once the British Consul's residence.

He said he approves of the latest renovation plan but adds that that "outsiders" ignorant of traditional Casbah building should have no role in renovation.

"Make sure the original inhabitants are involved in the project," he replies when asked what advice he has for the project. "People who are not originally from here cannot understand its value."
__________________
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
hkskyline no está en línea   Reply With Quote

Sponsored Links
Old September 1st, 2008, 08:14 AM   #2
redstone
Lurker
 
redstone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Singapore
Posts: 14,056
Likes (Received): 52

Any pics from street level?
redstone no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old September 1st, 2008, 09:46 AM   #3
hkskyline
Hong Kong
 
hkskyline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 86,508
Likes (Received): 17832

Quote:
Originally Posted by redstone View Post
Any pics from street level?
Quite a few :
http://www.pbase.com/carine_iriarte/alger_casbah
http://www.pbase.com/michel_dor/casbah_2007

Looks quite crumbling indeed.
__________________
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
hkskyline no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old September 8th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #4
Jim856796
Registered User
 
Jim856796's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Citizen of the World
Posts: 8,944
Likes (Received): 844

Man, many portions of the Casbah look like crap. I hope this restoration project is accomplished in the very near future.
__________________
I honestly think all development projects must be sustainable and futureproof.

You support the good projects... and oppose the bad.
Jim856796 no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old February 19th, 2010, 09:40 PM   #5
hkskyline
Hong Kong
 
hkskyline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 86,508
Likes (Received): 17832

Source : http://www.pbase.com/cyrilp

















__________________
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
hkskyline no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2010, 03:51 PM   #6
abdeka
Algerian moderator
 
abdeka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,371
Likes (Received): 12516



























By abdeka
__________________
"Babylon in all its desolation is a sight not so awful as that of the human mind in ruins." Nelson DeMille, By the Rivers of Babylon.

Visit the ALGERIAN FORUM
abdeka no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2010, 03:51 PM   #7
abdeka
Algerian moderator
 
abdeka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 21,371
Likes (Received): 12516























By abdeka
__________________
"Babylon in all its desolation is a sight not so awful as that of the human mind in ruins." Nelson DeMille, By the Rivers of Babylon.

Visit the ALGERIAN FORUM
abdeka no está en línea   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2010, 01:00 PM   #8
hkskyline
Hong Kong
 
hkskyline's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 86,508
Likes (Received): 17832

The Mediterranean city Europe forgot
Few travellers visit Algeria these days but the country's capital - famous for its brilliant light - has a beauty that belies its recent violent history
4 September 2010
The Guardian

Isn't is strange that a gigantic country with some of the most beautiful coastline on Earth, a luminous hinterland of mountains vast and deserts idle, crowned with the most alluring capital city I know, should be just three hours from London and almost unvisited by travellers?

We used to go: well-to-do Victorians loved wintering in Algeria. But modernity has been cruel to this great gorgeous land, and even by the standards of war-torn Africa, Algeria's is an awful story. We associate it with the violent end of French colonialism, civil war in the 90s that cost up to 200,000 lives, and sporadic terror attacks. But this is a gross underestimation of a magical place, and a delightful and beguiling people.

With its Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Barbary pirate and French colonial heritage, Algeria has a hoard to dazzle any enthusiast of culture, architecture, literature, art, design, ornithology, botany or geography. I went, apprehensively, because I was following migrating swallows from Cape Town to Wales. At the airport, they impounded my binoculars - unwelcome because of "security". Policemen toted Kalashnikovs. "Security!" everyone said, cheerfully. "Bon courage!"

As it turned out, I felt as safe there as anywhere in Africa, and had the pleasure of discovering a world beyond guidebooks. I made lucky decisions: with my money and my visa running out, I resolved to throw all that remained of both at Algiers - "Alger la blanche" (Algiers the white). I loved it all: the foaming purple bougainvillea; the scents of mimosa, pine, spice and coffee; the roads floating through hillsides above the great sea; the Ottoman palaces; the scent of grilling lamb in the warren of the casbah; the harbour front with its snowy colonial buildings endlessly colonnaded (the old post office looks like a palace of ice-cream; no wonder Le Corbusier was in awe of Algiers) and the rich dark cafes. . . I wanted never to leave.

The casbah is a Unesco world heritage site, a burnt umber miracle, sweet with the song of goldfinches. The neo-Byzantine cathedral of Notre Dame D'Afrique is remarkable: the inscription within, "Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and the muslims", is a hopeful sentiment.

In the casbah, older cafe owners will tell you how they survived French paratroopers. ("We lived in the walls", one said. "In the walls, you understand?") The Great Mosque of Algiers is one of the few remaining examples of Almoravid architecture, with a 14th-century minaret. Just inland from the port, off the main street, is where most of the restaurants are. Follow your nose: mine led me to the most delicious lamb chops I have ever eaten - and as a Welshman I take chops seriously. And Algerian coffee is superb. The Martyrs' Monument is a strange and rather awful triple-pillared concrete structure. It looks like what it is - an outraged howl of mourning raised to the sky.

All Algiers goes down to the seafront to relax: here are lovely spaces in which to meet the locals (Algerians treasure their few visitors) and to wonder at the shattered piles of fishermen's houses below the sea wall, where people lived just above the waves.

My other good decision was to stay at the expensive but unforgettable El Djazair hotel, popularly known by its former title, the St George. The new wing is excellent. Crucially, the efficient management will fax you a confirmation of your reservation, which you will need for your visa if you go independently. (The Algerian embassy issues visas on the 21st of each month.) Once in Algeria, you are at liberty to travel where you will.

If God were to grant Algeria an overdue break, and lift her out of the grasping claws of President Bouteflika's clique and beyond the fists of its tiny extremist minority, Algiers would be the San Francisco of the region, gateway to deserts, mountains and coasts beyond reckoning. (Reputable companies offer tours to Tamanrasset, the Touareg capital of the Sahara.) In the spring the Kabylia region, in the north-east, is said to be like paradise. The coastal town of Tipaza, west of Algiers, is so beautiful that French writer Albert Camus said it taught

him the meaning of glory - love without limit.

As it is, Algeria has the clearest light I have ever seen, and she needs you - to see her, to appreciate her and, in beginning to know her, to help her out of the shadows.

* El Djazair Hotel (hoteleldjazair.dz) has doubles from pounds 195. British Airways (ba.com) flies from Heathrow to Algiers from pounds 260 return. From 2011 Explore (0844 499 0901, explore.co.uk) has a three-night Algiers & Ancient Kingdoms break (plus optional excursions to Cherchell and Tipaza), from pounds 937 including flights, B&B and tour guide.
__________________
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
hkskyline no está en línea   Reply With Quote


Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Related topics on SkyscraperCity


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 12:07 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

SkyscraperCity ☆ In Urbanity We trust ☆ about us | privacy policy | DMCA policy

Hosted by Blacksun, dedicated to this site too!
Forum server management by DaiTengu