The Great Mosque of Algiers (Arabic: الجامع الكبير, Jemaa Kebir) or “Djama’a al-Kebir” (meaning Great Mosque) is one of North Africa’s most important Islamic buildings.
Standing at 300m tall, it is located in the northeastern part of the city in the historic Kasbah area near the harbor, next to the Chamber of Commerce. Earlier, the mosque was located on the Rue de la Marine in Algiers during French colonial rule of Algeria, which was then the entrance street to Algiers Harbor.
The mosque is seen here with reordered portico of columns and poly-lobed arches that were built at the beginning of the colonial period. These precede the façade of the mosque, consequent to realignment of streets in the area.
It is the oldest mosque in Algiers and is said to be the oldest mosque in Algeria after Sidi Okba Mosque.
It was built under sultan Ali ibn Yusuf. Its minaret dates from 1332 (1324 in some sources) and was built by the Ziyyanid Sultan of Tlemcen. The gallery at the outside of the mosque was built in 1840. Its construction was a consequence of a complete reconstruction of the street by the French.
The mosque has a rectangular courtyard of 38×46 meters on a 9×11 grid. The narrow sides of the rectangle (with width larger than the perpendicular depth) have a riwaq (gallery). This layout has been replicated in many religious structures, e.g., the al-Aqsa Maghreb mosque in Algeria. While the main mosque was built in 1097 AD (Hegira 490), according to the minbar, the minaret on the north-western corner was a later addition (according to an inscription at its base), in 1332, by sultan Ali ibn Yusuf. The gallery surrounding the main mosque was added in 1840.
The prayer hall is subdivided into eleven balatat (naves) supported by whitewashed masonry pillars. Each nave is crowned by a double sloping roof known as Moorish arches. The prayer hall is aligned below the first five of the nine bays that run parallel to the qibla wall.
Great Mosque of Algiers (1899)
Great Mosque of Algiers in modern times
The mihrab, which was originally built as an integral part of the mosque in 1097, was destroyed in bombing in AD 1682 (AH 1093).The reconstructed mihrab is a typical design followed in 18th-century Algiers in the form of indented lobed arches at the end of the central and much wider nave. It is a simple fresco façade with two small spiral columns flanking it on either side with an ogive stucco arch seen in relief. The mihrab is set in a niche with a flat floor.
Following the realignment of the main street of Rue de la Marine, substantial changes in the façade became an essential additional feature, as seen now in the form of “A portico of columns and poly-lobed arches.” This gallery at the entrance to the mosque was built in 1840.
In another part of the mosque, in the north-east corner, is the Bâb al-Jenina which, along with the Minaret, is meant for the exclusive use of the imam of the mosque. It has several rooms for routine use. This structure’s surface is indented with rectangular niches decorated by poly-lobed blind arches inlaid with blue and white ceramic tiles.
Materials used in constructing the mosque were stone, brick, roofing tiles and wood, and ornamentation of ceramics and wood was applied.
Location on Google map: