Constantine, an Algerian city named in honour of emperor Constantine the Great, is where history and different civilisations meet and mix, it is where ancient Rome’s architectural grandeur holds tête–à–tête with ottoman’s; while nature’s opulence is shown in the city’s sprawling peaks and running splashes of river Rhumel. Some architects today will shudder at the thought of building an urban city on a plateau, 2, 100 feet above sea level, but those who founded Constantine thought otherwise, they lavished resources on this city to give it impressive sights and vibes. It will be a great idea to visit Constantine, even if it’s just to appreciate its incredible masterpieces. Here are 10 incredible sights and vibes of Constantine that will take your breath away!
1. The Suspension Bridges
Constantine is not a “city of bridges” by fluke. Its jaw-dropping connecting bridges are a thesis in no-nonsense architecture. There are eight of them; the oldest being the Bab al-Kantara (Gate of the Viaduct) bridge, built in 1792, while Sidi Rached is considered the highest stone bridge in the world. The Sidi-M’Cid bridge is another, it was built in 1912 just up of a natural arch. The bridge has a length of 164m and a height of 175m. The bridge offers a fantastic view across the gorge and valley Hamma. Others include the the Devil’s Bridge and Falls Bridge.
2. Abdelkader Mosque
Constantine has a host of mosques, some of them considered pearls of Islamic architecture and this beautiful Mosque, which shares the buildings of the University of Islamic Sciences, is considered the biggest mosque in Algeria and one of the largest in North Africa. Its structure is an architectural masterpiece of the Arab-Andalusian art.
The Cirta Museum dates from 1930 and features antique diver, Numidian and Roman remains and collections of Orientalist paintings of the nineteenth century.
4. Palace of Ahmed Bey
This Palace of Ahmed Bey was completed in 1835. Constructed entirely in the Ottoman style, the palace is 1,200 square-meter in size and contains more than 120 rooms, gardens and internal courtyards, decorated arches, 250 marble pillars, a Moroccan-style bathhouse and a fish pool. It became the National Museum for Arts and Traditional Arts in 2011.
5. Place du 1er Novembre
The Breccia (Place du 1er Novembre) is a square in the city centre of Constantine, it got its name due to the French invasion, it is at this location that the French soldiers had their breakthrough and occupied the city.
6. Téléphérique: Constantine’s Cable Cars
The city launched this cable car network in June 2008. With the capacity to carry 2,400 people per hour, the cable car allows Constantine residents a speedy journey from points A to B. The 20-dinar ride offers impressive views of the city. From Emir Abdelkader station on the city’s eastern side, an eight-minute journey takes passengers over the red-tiled rooftops of the Faubourg neighbourhood before launching over the rocky gorge to offer dramatic views of the Rhumel river, the Sidi M’Cid and Sidi Rached bridges that cross it, and the mountains beyond.
7. Mentouri Constantine University
Mentouri Constantine University, atop the Aïn El Bey plateau on the outskirts of the city, is a place to see in the city, a refreshing flair of architectural modernism amidst the colonial French fancies of Centre Ville. Designed by Brazilian master Oscar Niemeyer, the campus is seen nationwide as an emblem of Algeria’s leap into modernity – its signature 19-storey administrative tower can be found on the back of every 2,000 dinar note in Algeria.
8. Centre Culturel Français de Constantine
Located on La Place de la Pyramide, one of the city’s busiest junctions, the institute is tucked away behind the leafy barrier of its landscaped gardens. The CCF is perhaps one of the best-preserved examples of colonial architecture in the city. Inside, bright airy rooms function as exhibition spaces and contemporary artwork hangs among the building’s original wainscot and mahogany panels. The linchpin of the centre is its well-stocked library.
9. District Theatre: Theatre Regional De Constantine
This Constantine’s district theatre was built during the French rule in the 19th century. The theatre is constructed in classical style, reminiscent of the best European concert halls. It is the main theatre in Constantine showing acts from Medina times. It preserves history and culture of the area.
Just in case you missed all, don’t miss its rich cuisine– I mean don’t leave without trying a plate of chakchouka, you’ll find it almost everywhere including lively new music venues and speedy public transport. It may cause a debate but I bet Constantine has much more to offer than those in Algiers would dare to admit.
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