Saturday, October 15, 2022

Oran Algeria - Day 1


We took a weekend trip to Oran Algeria with a guided group tour. It was about a 4 hour train ride to the west of Algiers with only a couple of stops. The return trip wasn't as express and added at least another hour. There were many interesting places to see, an unexpected holiday concert, and much food to be eaten. Overall, it was a good weekend.

the original train station building next door

Fort Santa Cruz to be visited after lunch...

Traditional Rechta (pronounced rish-ta) is becoming one of my favorite meals. The light noodles are the highlight of the taste combo. The secret of the noodles is that they're steamed instead of boiled. Yum!

A local couscous dish

Oran has an interesting and varied history of inhabitants and conquests. Here's the highlights from Britannica.
Oran was founded at the beginning of the 10th century by Andalusian merchants as a base for trade with the North African hinterland, and it developed commercially owing to its sea connections with Europe. It became the port for the North African kingdom of Tlemcen in 1437 and also was an entrepôt for trade with the Sudan. In 1492 and 1502 Oran received colonies of Spanish Muslims (Moors) fleeing from forcible conversion to Christianity. Thereafter, its prosperity began to decline, and, with Mers el-Kebir, it became a centre for pirates. It was occupied by the Spanish in 1509. For the next two centuries, Oran was contested by the various Mediterranean powers until it fell to the Turks in 1708. The constant raids of pirates based at Mers el-Kebir prompted Spain to retake Oran in 1732. Devastated by an earthquake in 1790, the town was evacuated and returned (in 1792) to the Turks, who settled a Jewish community there. Oran was occupied in 1831 by the French, who developed it as a modern port and turned Mers el-Kebir into a major naval base.

In June 1940 during World War II, at the time of the Franco-German armistice, a major part of the French fleet took refuge at Mers el-Kebir. On July 3 a British naval force sank or damaged most of the French ships in order to keep them from falling into German hands. Oran was one of the principal objectives in the Allied landings in North Africa and was captured by U.S. forces on November 10, 1942. Oran had a higher proportion of European inhabitants than any other North African city, and much strife occurred between the French and the Arab Muslims at the time of Algerian independence in 1962. Most of the Europeans subsequently left, and Oran’s naval functions gradually lapsed in favour of commercial ones.

Fort Santa Cruz

On the way up to the Fort of Santa Cruz, which was built by the Ottomans and Spaniards, you can look down on the city and the Chapel of Santa Cruz. This chapel has been refurbished with a tower, which has a huge statue of the Virgin Mary, said to be a replica of that at Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseilles, France.

firing slot forward and downward

Downtown Oran

Al Mawlid Annabawi Holiday Concert

Our guides hastily arranged for us to enjoy a holiday concert. It isn't my kind of music, but it was fun to experience the joy of it all at least once even if I'm not going to add it to my regular music listening.

the audience enjoying the concert with dancing and singing along

here's a video clip of the celebratory Al Mawlid Annabawi holiday concert

ending the long day with a platter of mixed grilled meats

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