Algiers, with a total population of 2.9 million inhabitants, is the largest and most important city in Algeria. Little wonder then that it is also the country's capital city. It is nicknamed 'Alger la Blanch' (Algiers the White) because of the glistening white buildings that can be seen sloping up from the sea. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea, in the north-central part of the country. A number of surrounding cluster of islets have now been turned into a part of the port. Algiers is Algeria's main administrative centre and also the country's main harbour, serving as both a shipping centre and a principal Mediterranean refuelling station.
There are many interesting things to do in Algiers and visitors more often than not in a museum at some stage. The museums are spread all around the city and, unlike many other cities, Algiers' museums are actually worth visiting. Bardo National Museum (Musee National du Bardo) and the museum of antiques, situated less than 1 km from one another, hold expositions featuring collections of prehistory, such as the tomb of Queen Tin-Hinan, the Touareg ancestors, and classic antiquities comprised of sculptures, mosaics and bronzes discovered on principal archaeological sites in Algeria.
There are two other museums, each dedicated to children and the mujahideens. The former, at the heart of the Jardin Monriant du Telemly, possesses a beautiful collection of works and objects coming from various countries. In honour of the mujahideens, the Museum of Djihad was naturally inaugurated at the level of Makam Ech-chahid, the sanctuary of Martyr, at the heights of Algiers.
For amateurs in art, Algiers offers seven magnificent art galleries. Situated in a beautiful garden, facing the Jardin d'Essai du Hamma, the National Gallery of Fine Arts (Musee National des Beaux-Arts) possesses sculpture, art print and painting masterpieces of the greatest artists in the world: Delacroix, Renoir, Nasreddine (Etienne) Dinet, as well as collections dating from the period 1908-1914. As for the collection of Algerian works of art, it is composed of works by Racim, Temmam and Yelles, considered to be one of the most important works.
Apart form the museums Algiers has many public buildings of interest, including the whole casbah quarter, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Grand and New Mosques and plenty more. The main building of the casbah was built in 1516 on the site of an older building and served as the Palace Of The Deys until the French conquest. A road has been cut through the centre of the building, the mosque turned into barracks and the hall of audience allowed to fall into ruin. Today there are still some remains and traces of a minaret, as well as some marble arches and columns and some pieces of the vaults in which the treasures of the Dey were stored.
The Grand Mosque is the oldest mosque in Algiers. It is said that this building already existed in 1018. The beautiful interior of the mosque is square and is divided into aisles by columns that are joined by Moorish arches.
The New Mosque is in a form of a Greek cross and dates back to the 17th century. It is surrounded by a huge white cupola and with four small cupolas at the corners. The interior of this mosque is very much the same as that of the Grand Mosque.
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