Radiant in the north-west of Algeria with its architectural and cultural splendor, the “Radieuse” Oran, or “Wahren”, the second capital of the country will host this year the 19th edition of the Mediterranean games scheduled from June 25 to July 5, 2022.
Whether you are an athlete, trainer or just visiting Oran for this occasion, it is essential for you to visit the landmarks of this city, home to a mix of religions, cultures and architectures that decorate the Mediterranean.
Take advantage of this article to plan your stay and discover the must-see attractions in Oran.
1- Fort and chapel of Santa Cruz: A view, a story
Want to dominate the whole city of Oran and the Mediterranean? It is the fort of Santa Cruz that will offer you this pleasure.
Fort de Santa Cruz: Centerpiece of Oran Bay
If you are visiting Oran, it is impossible for you to miss this stone mastodon, perched on the Aïdour massif (Le Murdjadjo).
Built between 1577 and 1604 on a height of 400 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, the fortress represented a strategic military point for the Spanish and French soldiers thereafter.
The fort has undergone several reconstructions following military and natural destruction, and was listed in 1950 as one of the natural sites that bear witness to the Algerian-Franco-Spanish history
The Chapel of Santa Cruz, Protectress of the City
Below the building is the Santa Cruz chapel, exhibiting a large statue of the Virgin Mary, protector of the city of Oran.
The latter was erected following the Cholera epidemic which struck the city in 1849, and by this fact, immediately after the prayers of the faithful, a curtain of rain fell on the city, cleaning it from the epidemic.
The chapel was classified as a national monument on December 17, 2003, you can start your visit of the city of Oran, with the unmissable Fort and Chapel of Santa Cruz, you will certainly spot all your next visits from afar.
To get there, very easy to find taxis if you don’t have a vehicle to go up the hill, you will certainly not be disappointed with the panoramic view of the city; As for prices, entry to the chapel is free, and at a symbolic price for the fort.
2- Boulevard de l’ALN: The balcony overlooking the Mediterranean
Connecting the east side to the west of the city center, Boulevard de l’ALN is one of the city’s most important landmarks.
The seafront is the famous artery (boulevard de l’ALN) of the city of Oran running along the historic city center from east to west, from the Zabana roundabout to the wall of the fortress of the Palais du Bey.
True balcony on the sea and in particular the port, of which one never tires of observing the movement, the seafront boulevard is a very pleasant place of family stroll until late during the summer nights. To the east of the port, the large and aggressive chimney is that of the power station built in the early 1950s.
The seafront promenade stretches for 2 kilometers, and is easily accessible from the center of the city of Oran on foot.
Otherwise, take a trip to the end of the boulevard, on the Zabana roundabout side, you will find a splendid family garden, “Esplanade de Sidi M’hamed”, lively day and night, perched on the sea, a place of relaxation for families, groups of friends and children and a night meeting point for its conviviality and safety.
you will surely meet there dancers and sportsmen who dazzle you with their talents, or even free screenings of Algerian films.
3- Oran city center: meeting of religions and modernism
Oran is called “La Radieuse” on Bey Hassan, the last governor of Oran before the French colonial capture, nicknamed “El Bahi”, or the radiant.
However, this city center of the history of Algeria and capital of the west, erased from its crossroads of cultures and history.
Place d’Armes: Historic heart of the city
Currently called Place de 1er novembre 1954, La Place d’Armes is considered the historic heart of the city of Oran, it is at the crossroads of several roads that you come from the port, the seafront and the city center. city.
In its center, there is an obelisk bearing the effigy of Emir Abdelkader, surmounted by a sculpture called “La Gloire” by the French sculptor Aimé-Jules Dalou.
Surrounding the square with their colonial architecture, the majestic historical buildings that are the town hall with giant sculptures of two lions, on which the city was named; and the opera house have watched over the square for over a century.
To get there, a Tramway station is present at this level, or otherwise a few minutes walk from the Seafront.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart: Regional Library of Oran
It is very likely that you have already met the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, on a postcard, book or magazine, because it is impossible to speak of Oran without having to mention it.
This cathedral was the second cathedral in the city during the French period, the first being the Saint-Louis church rebuilt in 1831 by the French on the remains of an old Spanish church built in 1509 but which had been largely destroyed by the earthquake of 1790. Its construction began on April 20, 1903 and ended on February 9, 1913. It was consecrated on April 9, 1930.
In a Roman-Byzantine style, it was designed by the architect Albert Ballu and the work was carried out by the construction company of the brothers Auguste and Gustave Perret.
The Crypt of the cathedral was completed in 1906 (currently a media library) and the large Cavaillé-Coll-Mutin organ was inaugurated on February 3, 1918.
4- Regional Theater of Oran: The Algerian artistic pole
Built at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Opera of Oran, just next to the Place d’Armes, will catch your eye thanks to the giant statue of an art goddess with a zither, and in depth , two muses accompany him.
In 1967, the opera of Oran was transformed into the National Theater of Western Algeria, in 1971 it was called the Algerian National Theater of the West, its leaders had to wait until 1972 for the theater to enjoy its independence. financial and artistic, and since the Regional Theater of Oran has continued to be a driving wheel of artistic creation in Algeria.
The Regional Theater of Oran opens its doors every day of the week and to all segments of society, small and large, Fridays and Tuesdays are reserved for young audiences, the rest of the week the program is oriented for adults, play, concert and literary and poetic afternoon.
5- Disco Maghreb: Emblems of Algerian Raï
If you are in one of the buildings we have just mentioned, on your way to the cathedral, pay attention to the small room which forms the corner between Rue “Bensennousi” commonly called République and Boulevard Amir Abdelkader.
You will find the legendary Disco Maghreb, seller of old K7s, older records, publisher and prestigious label in Oran who produced the first generation of Algerian Rai singers, known worldwide today as Khaled, Mami , Hasni, Zahouania, Cheikha Rimitti, and many others.
Certainly, the premises are currently abandoned, however, the pleasure of going through boulevard Amir Abdelkader “L’emir” with its eclectic colonial architectural style, makes you still travel to the neighborhoods of Havana, just before plunging into artistic roots from western Algeria.
Note that the entire city center of Oran is very easily accessible, either on foot, or thanks to the tramway stops that serve all the landmarks of the area.
6- Soummam Boulevard
Soummam Boulevard (formerly Boulevard Gallieni) is considered one of the most beautiful boulevards in Oran. It is located in the heart of the city near the seafront and the famous Place d’Armes.
Despite the popular kiosks, this boulevard was said to be the most chic in the city with its magnificent public buildings.
Just a few steps away you will find the famous Bastille market, the palace Bey and the Cherkroun Hasni open-air theater.
7- Convention center
The largest convention center in Africa is indeed in Oran. An opportunity not to be missed !
Considered an architectural jewel, of an international dimension, you will in no way be disappointed with its visit. It is made up of a set of complementary works: The convention center, the exhibition center and the “Le Méridien” hotel rated 5 stars.
Commissioned in April 2010, the Oran Convention Center is the emblem of new business tourism, combining quality and modernity. Ideally located by the sea, it is the key asset of business tourism in Oran.
You can choose to plan events or receive support at the exhibition center, so you will find several opportunities there.
8- The arenas
The arenas of Oran represents a circular building originally intended to host bullfights, located southwest of the city of Oran with a capacity of 10,000 spectators. These are the only arenas in Algeria and one of the few arenas on the African continent.
The arenas have received famous matadors like El Cordobes, Ordinez Pepe, Miguel Matéo, José Garcia Lupion, the 3 Chicueleb brothers.
You can imagine the magic of the images of bullfights, bullfighters in light suits, the art of the confrontation between the beast and the matador, and the final coup de grace.
9- Bastille market
A walk in the markets of Oran stimulates the most modest desires, the smell, the crowd, unique senses, these perfumes and aromas retracing an entire civilization with the freshness of the products displayed.
The bastille is a very long pedestrian street crossing a large part of the city center of Oran, very popular with the Oranese who go there to stock up, or tables and merchants and shops are available to passers-by.
10- Ibn Badis Mosque
One of the most prominent symbols of the city of Oran, the Abdelhamid Ibn Badis mosque has become an essential reference with its particular architectural style and a destination par excellence for tourists and personalities visiting Oran.
Built in Hai Djamel Eddine to the east of Oran, the Abdelhamid Ben Badis mosque is distinguished by its 104-meter-high glass-covered minaret. It is the largest mosque in the city of Oran and all of Orania. It is baptized in the name of an icon of religious nationalism Abdelhamid Ben Badis.
It includes two large prayer rooms for men and women as well as a vast esplanade, offering a total capacity of 25,000 worshippers.
11- Pasha Mosque
The Hassan Pasha Mosque is a mosque in Oran built in 1796, under the reign of Bey Mohamed El-Kébir, by order of Pasha Baba Hassan of Algiers, in memory of the expulsion of the Spaniards. He contributed to its construction with the money from the redemption of Christian captives.
Located at the bottom of rue benamara Boutkhil, formerly rue de Phillippe, the Pasha mosque, which became a listed historical monument on 06/08/1952, captivates the curiosity of passers-by, its minaret dominates most of the houses and seduces the eye with its elegance of its proportions. It is octagonal in shape, decorated with stripes in relief imitating the joint of dressed stones and surrounded, on each of its three floors, by enamelled and squared areas like mosaics.
12- Port of Oran
The construction of the port of Oran, its extension and its infrastructure equipment were regularly monitored from the period 1832-1892 to that of 1982-2005. Shops, races, wars, sieges, naval battles and Spanish occupations have been listed and in fact give an idea of the rich and complex history of the city and its port.
The Port of Oran opens on the southern shore of the western Mediterranean about 400 km west of Algiers. It houses a ferry terminal for passenger transport, several loading docks and a small marina for pleasure craft.
13- Sidi El Houari
The Sidi El Houari district, the historic core of the city of Oran, is at the heart of political issues. Having become the object of a heritage conflict, the district has given rise to heritage and memorial claims on the part of the citizen collective, following repeated demolitions in the old built environment.
There are countless historical sites and monuments in Sidi El-Houari, vestiges of the different periods that Oran has known in the past, since its foundation in the year 902.
Among the protected sites in Sidi EL Houari are the Pearl Mosque, the Bey Palace, the Pasha Mosque, the Spanish Gate, the Canastel Gate and many more. Other sites await their classification, such as the former prefecture of Sidi El-Houari, the Kasbah (Merinid period) and the regional theater of Oran.
14- Palace of the Bey
The palace of the Bey is one of the few Ottoman monuments in the city, located in the Sidi El-Houari district, it is on the ramparts of the Roza Alcazar fortress.
It was built by Mohamed Ben Othman, known as El-Kébir, after having victoriously triumphed over the Spaniards in 1792. From then on he made it his residence as well as the seat of his administration.
Moreover, strategically located, the palace dominates both the port while monitoring the hinterland, which earned it the occupation of the French army from 1931 to 1962.
Of Arab-Andalusian architecture, it has an area of approximately 5.6 hectares. It is made up of a diwan, a suite, a harem, a courtyard and several other adjacent facilities, including two major monuments, the red keeps whose construction dates back to 1345 and the old Spanish barracks which had served as stables.
If you are passionate about culture then you have come across the right neighborhood! known for its rare cultural activities Miramar even tends to become the “Latin Quarter” of El Bahia due to its concentration of infrastructure.
Indeed, you will find there the cinematheque of Oran. The only functional room for all of Oran, which continues to show feature films and short films twice a day, to the delight of film buffs. A little further on is the French Institute where a library has an impressive selection of books. Also the emblematic Miramar contains no less than four bookstores, among them, the most famous of Oran, the one located on the seafront and that everyone likes to call “Aïcha’s bookstore”.
In addition, the district directly overlooks the seafront, hence its name, of Spanish origin and whose meaning means “view” (mir) of “the sea” (mar). Going from boulevard Tripoli to lotfi high school boulevard, this district has the paradox of seeing cohabit at the same time mansions, pretty villas, residences, as well as a huge HLM of 21 floors housing a thousand families.
16- Esplanade of Sidi M'hamed
Located to the east of Oran, the Sidi M’hamed esplanade with its 6 hectares offers you a panoramic view of the sea from the large city center of Oran. This frequented space has become a popular place of relaxation, where everyone comes to find this light breeze that only the Mediterranean air can offer.