History of the city of Algiers
With over 4 million inhabitants, the urban agglomeration of Algiers spreads its branches on a surface that has expanded considerably during the 20th century.
This multifaceted, and in many ways fascinating, metropolis reflects a rich past, the vestiges of which still mark out space today.
This imposing built legacy reveals the complexity of its spatial organisation and illustrates the remarkable, and often chaotic, history of this amazing city.
'El-Djazair' is the name of Algiers in Arabic, given to it by Bologhine Ibn Ziri, of the Ziri Ben Menad dynasty in the 10th century, when he founded this city on the site of the ruins of a former ancient city that went by the name of Icosium.
The urban history of Algiers, which then begins well before Bologhine, thus dates back over 3000 years. Indeed, a city of Punic foundation named Icosium was erected at this location, as evidenced by the archaeological finds of the 1940s.
Geographical location and features
Algiers is built on the slopes of the foothills of the Algerian Sahel (or the Sahel Hills).
The Casbah was built on the side of one of these hills overlooking the western tip of the Bay of Algiers on an elevation of about 150 meters.
Outside the fortifications of the Ottoman city, new neighborhoods, including the first European quarters, have sprung up along the arm of the hill which overlooks the bay.
Subsequently, The city developed towards the northwest, like Bab El Oued neighbourhood, at the foot of Mount Bouzareah that culminates at an altitude of 400m above sea level, and then all along the corniche that circumvents the massif.
The first suburbs have emerged southeast along the small coastal strip, on former wetlands, to the mouth of Oued El Harrach. The urban spread of the city has continued beyond Oued El Harrach to the east, on the fertile land of the Mitidja plain all along the bay, before continuing in recent years south and southwest, on the rolling hills of the Sahel, encompassing former agricultural villages.