While sorting my digital photo files, I came upon some pictures that I took when I was in Oran, Algeria in June 2012. I have faint memories of Oran, which is the second largest city in Algeria, as I was cooped up in a hotel for work.

The only time I stepped out to visit some parts of the city, our small entourage (of mostly journalists) was escorted by the military. It was odd to be escorted by armed guards and I was told it was for our security. I suspect it was to ensure that we didn’t see what was not intended for our eyes lest it got reported in the international press.

Outside of the city centre, there were many crumbling old buildings with trash piled in the vicinity and the poverty was striking. Women cloaked in hijab dress and men in white gandoura went about their daily lives amid the sweltering heat and dusty streets.

Our planned itinerary included the Chapelle de Santa Cruz (Chapel of Santa Cruz), Musée Nationale d’Ahmed Zabana (Ahmed Zabana National Museum) and Institut Français (French Institute). I was struck by the European influence* that remains in the Oran, which was once ruled by the Spanish and the French.

For instance, many people I met in Oran spoke French, so I was able to communicate with them. You can visit the city’s former cathedral, Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur d’Oran, which was built in the early 20th century and converted into a library in the 1980s.

I was struck by the European influence that remains in the Oran, which was once ruled by the Spanish and the French.

Another reference to the city’s past as a French colony is the Chapel of Santa Cruz located below the fort on Mount Murdjadjow which was constructed in 1850 after a cholera epidemic killed thousands in Oran. From this lofty perch, you can enjoy impressive views of the city and the bay.

I wish I had the chance to see more of Oran, to get a more accurate feel for the rhythm of this coastal city by the Mediterranean Sea. Another time perhaps.

Streets of Oran, as shot from a busStreets of Oran, as shot from a bus

View from la chapelle de Santa Cruz
View of Oran from Chapelle de Santa Cruz
La chapelle de Santa Cruz
Chapelle de Santa Cruz
La chapelle de Santa Cruz - view of the city centre of Oran
Chapelle de Santa Cruz and view of Oran
La chapelle de Santa Cruz
Chapelle de Santa Cruz
La chapelle de Santa Cruz
Chapelle de Santa Cruz
Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur de Jésus in Oran
Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur d’Oran

Streets of Oran, as shot from a bus

* Under the French rule, there were 250,000 inhabitants of European origin in Oran at one point, making it one of the highest proportions of Europeans in a city in North Africa. This changed around the time when Algeria won its independence from France in 1962 after a long, ferocious and bloodied war, and around half of Oran’s population (Europeans, Algerian Jews) left. Source: Britannica

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11 replies on “Passing through Oran, Algeria

  1. The first (and so far only) time I’ve spent time thinking about Oran was whilst reading Albert Camus’ “La Peste”, or “The Plague”. Thanks your pictures, they’ve given some extra layers at the Oran I’ve built in my mind!

  2. Mosquitoes are also a problem in Algeria, but they are just a nuisance, as malaria is not common ‘they don’t transport diseases’. In urban areas, there is periodic city-wide spraying against mosquitoes.

  3. Hello, I’m from Algeria I’ve living in France since few years now. Last time I’ve been on oran was In 1995. Thanks for this post, it gave me some cool memories of that city

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