History in the buildings

Yanis and Manal take us on a tour of Algiers. Yanis starts at the port, where large ships and ferries dock.

In this ‘lower’ part of the city, around the horse-shoe shaped harbour, you can also see many buildings from the French era with their distinctive colonnades, balconies and iron balustrades.

The youngsters visit some of the city’s most notable buildings, including the central post office which was erected in 1913. Though it was designed by French architects, the building was constructed with Turkish style.

Manal shows off some of the important government buildings, the largest of which is the National Popular Assembly (equivalent to the UK Parliament). She’s particularly proud of the fact that the SOS Village children were invited inside recently to put questions to the President of the Assembly.

The SOS youngsters then head off to the Casbah of Algiers, the medieval Islamic old city, with its traditional Arab houses, mosques and palaces. Much of this old upper town was built from 1516, when Algiers was made the capital of the region by an Ottoman Turk Sultan. With its hilltop location, houses are built up narrow winding streets and many are decorated inside.

Of course the palaces are even more richly decorated. Yanis and Manal go inside one. You can see from the video how the walls are covered with colourful tiles and geometric patterns and doors are intricately carved.

But whatever the age or style of the building, most in Algiers are white-washed on the outside, which is why the capital is sometimes called ‘the white city’.