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The Fort and Chapel of Santa Cruz

    A lot of multicultural civilizations have passed through Algeria and left indelible traces that bear witness to its history. In every city across the vast Algerian territory, there are monuments that are living witnesses to a memory of which we can be proud of. Among them is the Fort of Santa Cruz in Oran province, Northwestern of Algeria. 

     Oran (El Bahia) ,which is a pearl of Algeria and the country’s second largest port after Algiers, lies along an open bay on the Mediterranean Sea coast .It was founded at the beginning of the 10th century by Andalusian merchants as a base for trade with the North African hinterland, and it was developed commercially owing to its sea connections with Europe. It was invade by Turks, Spanish and French.

    The Fort of the mountain (Bordj el Djbel as called by the locals) was built by the Ottomans and the Chapel of Santa Cruz was built between 1577 and 1604 by the Spaniards on the rocky spur of Aidour, better known under the name of Murdjajo in order to resist the Ottoman Empire. It occupies a strategic location; it stands 400 meters above the sea level where there are views of Mers el Kebir, the strategic military port of Oran. A small chapel, known as the Chapel of Santa Cruz, stands close to the fort. This chapel has been refurbished with a tower, which has a huge statue of Mary the Virgin that was built on 1850. 

The city of Oran was the object of repeated attacks that’s why they have built the fort. This latter was built with iron, wood, sand, lime and water because of its climactic strategic point, carried up to the hill through winding and difficult paths. The fortifications of the place were composed of thick and continuous walls of over two and a half kilometers in circumference, surmounted by strong towers spaced between them, with a central castle or Kasbah where the Spanish governor established his headquarters. It was expanded repeatedly to strengthen the fortifications by cutting deep into the hill, following repeated enemy attacks. There is a subterranean communication between all the forts, the galleries passing underneath the town mounting and descending the various hills. The fort has even a rainwater storage harvesting system, with the largest tank having a capacity of 300,000 liters in order to resist in case of siege.

    The fort of Santa Cruz has experienced various invasions, sometimes destructive, but it was rebuilt many times. Today, this magnificent colossus of stones is in good condition and it becomes an awesome tourist site to visit in order to discover a little-known history of Algeria of that period. In the interior of the fort, you can visit the walkway, the apartments of the soldiers who were staying there permanently, as well as those of the governor. In the immediate vicinity of the fort, a little below, another historical place to discover is the Chapel of Santa Cruz. It has been listed as a historical monument on October 6, 1950 under the French occupation and classified as a national monument on December 17th , 2008 at the end of a meeting of the National Commission of the Cultural Goods held on November 21st , 2008. 

The fort is open to visits from Saturday to Thursday. Entrance: 200DA

Written by ARAB Sabrina


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