Later this month I am off for my first visit to Algeria for three weeks. I am really excited as I have been planning this trip for months!
I want to use this visit to get a good overview of Algeria, its landscape history and people. So these are the places I will be visiting (hopefully) during my stay.
The first place I will visit will of course be Algiers (Alger in French) the capital city. Its original Arabic name is الجزائر (Al-Jazā’ir), and it was from this name that the country became known by the French as Algeria. It was founded in the 4th Century BC by the Phoenicians (yes, the same people that came to buy tin in Cornwall!) as a trading base. When the Ottomans ruled the country, it became a big base for piracy, before it was taken over by the French. Algiers has a great Casbah (old Arab quarter with winding streets and shops) that apparently it well worth visiting, though I will need to be careful not to get lost so will be taking a local guide with me! The French spent a great deal of money turning the city into a European-style city, so I will see some of what they built too.
My next trip will be to the monastery at Tibhirine. This became famous recently as the setting of the award-winning film Of Gods and Men. The film told the story of the kidnapping and murder of most of the Trappist monks during the terrible civil war in the 1990s. I want to visit to monastery to pray for peace and reconciliation between the great world religions of Islam and Christianity.
Then it will be off to the East of the country near the Moroccan border to visit Oran and Tlemcen. Both of these places have great museums and places of worship to visit. There is a high speed train being built to Tlemcen, but I don’t think it is up and running yet!
After this, I will be flying from Oran to Constantine. This is a wonderful city that appears to float in the sky as it perched on top of a vertiginous rocky promontory reached by suspension bridges. It will be the base for further forays I plan to make to the great Roman cities of Timgad (below) and Djemila.
Finally I will be spending a few days resting in Algiers with my friend there before returning to the UK.
So this, in theory, is my plan. But Algeria apparently is full of surprises, so I will need to be flexible, watchful and think quickly on my feet!
Hopefully I can carry on with my blogs while I am out there. However, my plan is to finish off my simple guide that will give a some of the background and essential information on how to visit this fascinating country. I expect to finish and publish this in the Autumn.