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48 hours in Oran

Embark on a two-day journey through Algeria's coastal gem, where history meets modernity

Nestled along Algeria's rugged coastline, on the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean, Oran stands as a vibrant tapestry of culture, history and natural beauty. A hidden gem awaiting discovery by travellers seeking authentic experiences, Oran is steadily gaining momentum as an up-and-coming destination on the travel scene. Thanks to its unspoiled beauty, rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality, the city's allure is undeniable.

With this two-day itinerary, immerse yourself in the essence of this Algerian coastal gem, where ancient traditions intertwine seamlessly with contemporary allure, promising an unforgettable adventure for all.

Day One

Begin your journey through Oran by venturing into the heart of the city, where the central square stands as a living testament to its storied past and vibrant present. Here, amidst the enduring remnants of French colonial architecture, a captivating juxtaposition unfolds, seamlessly weaving together the echoes of a bygone era with the pulse of contemporary life. Dominating this landscape of cultural convergence is the majestic Opera House, with its Baroque interiors echoing the whispers of centuries past. While access to the theatre is reserved for events, plays and screenings, you can still marvel at its opulent façade from the square.

Serving as the city's central hub, the Place du 1er Novembre, also known as the Place d’Armes, is a historic square steeped in tales of valour and resilience. Here, a striking fountain takes centre stage alongside the imposing Glory Obelisk, erected in 1898 to honour the gallant soldiers of the French army who valiantly fell during the battle of Sidi Brahim in 1845.

Also within this bustling square, the stately Dar el-Bahia, Oran's town hall, stands as a formidable sentinel. Its imposing façade is adorned with statues depicting lions — an enduring symbol of the city's indomitable spirit and proud heritage. Legend has it that these beasts once roamed the surrounding lands and kept approaching the suburbs — just like the invasions Oran was subjected to over the centuries until they were eventually driven out.

Just a stone's throw from the main square lies one of Oran's cherished gems — the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Constructed in the early 1900s, this architectural marvel was converted into a public library after the country's independence in the 1960s. Despite its shift in purpose, the cathedral still stands as a resplendent testament to Byzantine craftsmanship, its ornate façade and intricate detailing captivating visitors with every glance.

Wrap up your day by immersing yourself in the vibrant ambience of Oran's local markets. As you wander through the bustling stalls of Rue des Aures street market, you can pick up a colourful array of fresh produce, fragrant spices and local delicacies, including olives and traditional sweets.

At sunset, take a stroll along the seafront boulevard — Front de Mer. Stretching across two kilometres, it overlooks the port, offering views of the sea on one side and captivating buildings on the other, making it one of the best ways to end your day.

Day Two

To discover more about Oran's storied past, begin your second day at Bey’s Palace, where the sprawling complex of fortifications offers a glimpse into the city's layered history. Remnants of the palace's former grandeur include a public room adorned with a painted ceiling and the Sultan’s throne, a former prison and stables. Another part of the complex is Chateau Neuf or New Castle. Originally a 14th-century fort, it showcases Oran's architectural evolution, blending Moorish and Spanish influences.

A few steps away, the Hassan Pasha Mosque, erected in 1797, boasts one of Oran's most magnificent minarets — a striking octagonal structure adorned with intricate brickwork and vibrant mosaics.

Continuing your journey, take a leisurely stroll along the charming Promenade of Ibn Badis, leading you to the historic quarters of Sidi El Houari. Named after the revered patron saint of the city, Sidi El Houari's legacy as an esteemed Algerian imam and scholar permeates through its Spanish and Ottoman-influenced architecture. Among its notable landmarks are the Turkish Baths, the Church of St. Louis, Square de la Perle and the Spanish Gate, which leads to the mausoleum of Sidi El Houari.

Saving the best for last, the iconic Fort of Santa Cruz stands as a timeless symbol of the city's resilience. Perched atop the Aïdour ridge, overlooking the Gulf of Oran, it is one of the city's most iconic landmarks. Originally built by the Spaniards and later seized by the French in 1831, it provides awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of Oran and its surroundings.

Adjacent to the fort is the revered Chapel of Santa Cruz. According to local lore, the chapel's inception was spurred by a miraculous event during a cholera outbreak in 1847, when prayers offered here saved the city from devastation.


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