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The Palace of Ahmed Bey

    The palace of Ahmed Bey (the last Ottoman ruler of Constantine from 1826 to 1848) is one of the finest Ottoman era buildings in Algeria and it is considered the living trace of the Ottoman civilization in the country. This huge building (5609 m²) was built at the location of old houses contiguous to each other in Constantine Province. It was finished shortly before the capture of Constantine by the French colonialism and used to serve as a hospital for French troops under the name of “Hotel Division”. After the independence, it was used as a site for some cultural events. In the early 1980s, the palace was restored and given back its original plan and look by a Polish Company. In 2009, this magnificent palace opened to the public and became a museum of arts and popular traditions.

    The Palace’s construction was undertaken in 1826 and was inaugurated in 1835. For its construction; Hajj Ahmed Bey had recourse to two famous artists, El Hadj El Djabri, a native of the city and El Khettabi, a Kabyle man. He used materials from all over the world in order to build his palace; columns (about 247) and other pieces of marble were imported from Italy in exchange for shipments of wheat, the cedar wood was brought from the tribes of Aures and Kabylia , the cut stones were taken from the ruins of ancient Cirta and nearly 47,000 earthenware tiles fill the palace walls to half-height. There were 167 different types from Tunisia, Italy, Marseille, Syria and Holland, participating as much in the refreshment of the places as in their embellishment. The palace thus became a museum of the most curious and richest pieces of pottery, carpentry and sculpture. 

    What impress the visitors, at the first sight, is the vast dimensions of this palace which is filled with gardens and series of courtyards surrounded by tiled arcades. It is always compared to the houses of the Arabian Nights thanks to its samples of Arab and Moorish architecture; galleries enclose gardens as well as a pool and a paved courtyard with marble pillars and parterres, shaded orange trees, earthenware tiles, painted doors and windows, white marble and paintings of the most vivid colors with a charming taste and numerous water flowing fountains which serve to maintain a continuous sensation of freshness. 

    The frescoes (cover almost 2,000 m² of surface) of Ahmed Bey’s Palace are an authentic reference documents that tell the story of a long journey of the master of the place which can serve as a reference for university researchers, men of culture and historians. They undoubtedly have the major attraction of this place by their exceptional character in Algeria and North Africa. They reveal a lot of secrets that allow reading the various historical events such as the battles against the French Army in which the Bey took part alongside the Dey of Algiers, as well as the Bey’s different trips to the Middle East. 

The Palace opens from 9am to noon and from 1pm to 4pm, during the whole week except Fridays. The entry fees: 100 DA.

Written by ARAB Sabrina

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