Preservation of Casbah, Unique Islamic City in Algeria

There is an exciting city in Algeria. The town is Casbah. UNESCO calls it a unique form of the Islamic city. That’s because in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Casbah had a great influence on urban planning in North Africa, Andalusia, and countries on the African continent that were not considered to belong to parts of North Africa.

Casbah is one of the best coastal sites in the Mediterranean, overlooking the islands where the Carthaginian trading post was founded in the 4th century BC. There are remains of fortifications, old mosques and Ottoman-style palaces as well as remnants of traditional urban structures associated with a deep-rooted sense of community.

“The unique form of medina or Islamic city refers to a major influence in terms of urban planning in North Africa, Andalusia and sub-Saharan Africa,” UNESCO said.

In 1992, UNESCO placed the historic site on the World Heritage List. Then, in 2003 the Algiers City Government designated Casbah as a protected sector to prevent damage to urban buildings. Due to lack of attention, later there was a threat of revocation of the permit by the UN.

Indeed, many buildings almost collapsed, and sloping walls, and many cracked balconies jutted into the streets. The management of this site was entrusted to the Directorate of Culture of Wilaya (province) of Algiers.

Architect Zekagh Abdelwahab was tasked long ago with taking care of the Algerian Ministry of Culture’s plan to protect the Casbah, particularly regarding repairs to houses threatened with collapse.

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There are at least 700 houses that have received Abdelwahab’s attention.

“Casbah has received a lot of humiliation from the damage caused by the earthquake to the stone foundations that were destroyed due to the leakage of water pipes,” Abdelwahab said.

He said, during the repair process, most of the homes were still occupied by tenants who refused to leave. However, Abdelwahad remained employed around them.

Abdelwahab and his team of architects were deeply disappointed by the presence of a show house built by the French in 1930. The reason is that the house was built from part of a historical palace building and other houses that they had torn down for the previous 100 years.

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