Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Algiers the White City

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 30th July, 2010

It’s 20 years since I was last in Algiers. In the interim, Algeria’s capital was often plagued by terrorist violence and kidnappings. Mercifully, that is all over and the city itself is being restored to its former glory. Although some of the post-independence suburbs are pretty horrid, the city centre is glorious and deservedly bears the sobriquet ‘The White City’, as most of the buildings, reminiscent of southern France, are painted white and their iron balconies and wooden shutters blue. A massive programme of renovation and general smartening up is going on, enhancing such treasures as the central Post Office, whose intricately carved marble interior makes it a veritable temple of civic architecture. With Ramadan looming, the streets are full of shoppers and young people and families out enjoying the summer weather. There are magnificent promenades, some restored since disastrous floods in 2003. One day in the not too distant future, this city will be a tourist magnet, but for the present those visitors who clear the visa hurdles to get here can enjoy the place and its hassle-free atmosphere in glorious calm.

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