The registration of the Casbah of Algiers in Algeria on the Islamic World Heritage List has been approved by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), along with the city of Rabat, the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco; the cities of Tunisia, Kairouan, and Mahdia in the Tunisian Republic and the historic Cairo in the Egyptian capital.
In this aspect, ISESCO Director-General Dr. Salim M. AlMalik urged the ministers of culture and the competent authorities in the member states, including Algeria, to continue to provide technical files to register all the physical, non-physical, natural and industrial heritage sites in their countries on the Islamic World Heritage List.
ISESCO established a special unit to register heritage sites in the Islamic world, under strict scientific and international standards. The ISESCO also signed an agreement with UNESCO to cooperate in the registration of the member states’ sites on the World Heritage List, AlMalik explained.
AlMalik warned that heritage and cultural institutions in a number of member states are subject to bulldozing, destruction and looting, pointing out that the List of World Heritage in Danger contains 37 sites within the Islamic world, out of a total of 54 sites, at a rate of nearly 70 percent of the sites at risk.
It is worth recalling that Algeria has seven sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list: Beni Hammad, Djemila, the M’Zab Valley, the Tassili, Timgad, Tipasa and the casbah of Algiers.
M’Zab: Ghardaia & Beni Isguen
Ghardaia is one of the pentapolis towns of the Saharan M’Zab Valley, one of Algeria’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the walled settlement of Beni Isguen – normally closed to foreigners – the local women, clad entirely in white, reveal only one eye to the outside world.
Djemila – ancient Cuicul – is one of North Africa’s most monumental sites. Founded by Nerva, Djemila’s wheel-rutted streets are lined with two fora and a clutch of elaborate houses, churches and temples. Equally impressive is Djemila’s stunning museum of mosaics.
Tipasa, nestling undisturbed amongst palm trees on the shores of the Mediterranean, once served as an inspiration to Albert Camus. Phoenician, Roman, palaeo-Christian and Byzantine ruins vie for attention alongside the nearby Mauritanian mausoleum.
Timgad, the “Pompeii of Africa”, was constructed under Trajan as a bulwark against the unruly Berbers. With its immense library, colonnaded streets, myriad temples and imposing arch of Trajan, Timgad is the embodiment of Roman urban planning.
Algeria’s mountainous Tassili region, bordering Libya to the east and Niger to the south, is distinguished by its towering dunes of sand, its sheer-sided canyons, its beguiling “forests of rock” and over 15,000 rock carvings and paintings.
The casbah of Algiers remains one of the world’s most mythical labyrinths: “a masterpiece of architecture and town planning” according to Le Corbusier, the casbah’s huddled houses tumble down the hill-side before seemingly spilling over into the sea.
Situated in a mountainous site of extraordinary beauty, the ruins of the first capital of the Hammadid emirs, founded in 1007 and demolished in 1152, provide an authentic picture of a fortified Muslim city crowned by one of North Africa’s largest mosques.