On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea extends a huge continent, still strange and exotic to most Europeans. Its largest country is Algeria, with hectares of deserts and semi-deserts.
Algeria is a country which offers tourists a lot, but it’s at the same time very "difficult", both because of the political situation and the fact that it’s a fairly conservative state in terms of religion. Foreigners must adhere to the rules, which means that women can’t go to some temples, they also can’t show up publicly in the wrong outfit (eg, in bathing suit, with bare knees and shoulders, etc.).
Before visiting the largest African country, you have to fulfill the formalities, such as get a short-stay and transit visa. In order to do that, we need to visit the Embassy of Algeria in Warsaw. We also need a passport valid for not less than six months. At the beginning, however, it’s worth to go to the bank and exchange currency, as we will need only dinars (100 dinars (DZD) equals approximately 1 EUR).
The capital of the largest African country
The biggest city of Algeria is its capital, Algiers. It lies on a large bay on the Mediterranean Sea, on the slopes of the Sahel hills. Along with Cairo they are the only centers of the African continent that can boast of a subway.
To Algiers, you can get by a plane from Warsaw with change in Paris (4 people will pay for the flight around 1,500 euros in two directions - return after a week) or by ferry from France or Spain. An exemplary cost for 4 people visiting Algiers in a week is about 1250 euro. The ferry departs from Marseille and the cost includes a return ticket and accommodation in a 4-berth cabin. On board we’ll spend 25 hours.
Monuments hidden among the sand
Wandering through Algiers, we can easily observe the French influence in the architecture of the city, after all, the country was ruled by the French for over a century. It’s also impossible not to notice that the remnants of colonial times are now somewhat neglected, as if in revenge for the past. The city is divided into two parts - the old Kasba (Arabic) and the new, clearly European.
One of the most important buildings of Algiers is the XI century Great Mosque with minaret. Unfortunately, we can only admire it from the outside – it’s not available for tourists. Nonetheless, without any problems, we can visit the Bardo Museum, which houses a rich collection of exhibits from the Sahara. Here we’ll find, among others, costumes of inhabitants, and we’ll get acquaint with the rich history of the region.
An exceptionally beautiful sacred monument is the cathedral Notre Dame d' Afrique, towering over the city. It’s the twin sister of the basilica from Marseille, and its apse says "Our African Lady, pray for us and for the Muslims." It stands on the cliff, from which extends a magnificent view of the entire city.
An equally notable place is the Palais des Rais from the period of the Ottoman Empire. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Tarzan’s Garden and palm leaves
Algiers’ huge tourist attraction is the botanic garden Jardin d'Essai located in the Hamma district, where you can admire plants brought by the French from all over the globe. It’s divided into two parts: French, which is neat and ordered, and English, which is wild like a jungle. Apparently, before the World War II, Tarzan movies were filmed in the English part.
To the garden, you can get by a cable car from the Monument of the Martyrs (Monument du Martyr) which towers above the city. It was built in honor of the soldiers, who died fighting for the independence of the country. For some it looks like an alien ship, but it’s intended to arouse associations with palm leaves. It’s worth to know that it was designed by a Pole, Marian Konieczny.
Among the sands
Algeria offers tourists unforgettable experiences. To be honest, they aren’t always nice, and we need to be prepared for that. Despite that, it’s worth to go to this amazing country and discover the wonderful scenery, beautiful sights and delicious cuisine – delicious breads, ciorba or lamb sausages in spicy tomato sauce with a bit of harissa.