Oran is perhaps most famous for being one of the birthplaces of the rai music style. This inventive form of music is one of the more modern music styles that is popularly enjoyed in the various parts of Algeria and all over the world. The easy going and liberal atmosphere that pervades the city of Oran is clearly evident in this style of music. Initially performed only by men, it soon became the domain of many women – many of whom have become every bit as popular as their male counterparts.
Founded by Moorish Andalusian traders around AD 937, the city has been in existence for a long time. Due to its position on the coast it quickly developed into a city with a thriving trade industry and established strong business ties with Spain. Unfortunately it wasn’t too long before the Spanish took occupation of Oran. This soon changed when invading Ottoman forces captured the city but the Spanish rose to reclaim the city two years later, only to abandon it when it suffered from an earthquake in 1790. Much of the development and progress evident in Oran today is largely due to the French who eventually occupied the city in the 19th century.
Oran is a lot larger than many think. The second largest city in Algeria, it is an industrial, cultural and educational centre for the country. Though part of it is covered by high-rise apartment buildings and ordinary homes, there are older parts that make for interesting sight seeing. The Great Mosque built in 1769 is a good place to start. It is open to the public which is quite unusual in this part of the world. The Marabout Sidi Mohammed El Haouri is a very good example of Andalusian architecture. For all things historical, the Demaegth Museum has exhibitions that span thousands of years. The Cathedral de Sacre Coeur is a beautiful old building that has been converted into a public library.
Though Oran is a coastal town, the beaches in the immediate vicinity of the city are not terribly good. However a short trip away from the hustle and bustle will leave you with miles of beautiful sand and refreshing sea water. It may be a bit out of the way, but Oran is a great place to visit while exploring Algeria.