The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, March 23, 2018

Scored by history, overhauled Algiers mosque to reopen
A general view shows part of the Ketchaoua mosque in the famed UNESCO-listed Casbah district of Algiers as workers complete the final stages of its renovation on October 15, 2017. The ornate towers and arches of the Ketchaoua mosque are set for a new chapter as the majestic place of worship gets ready to open it doors for the first time in nearly a decade following lengthy renovation. RYAD KRAMDI / AFP.

by Amal Belalloufi

ALGIERS (AFP).- At the foot of the famed UNESCO-listed Casbah district in Algiers, the Ketchaoua Mosque has had a tumultuous past that, at one point, saw it turned into a cathedral under French rule.

Now the ornate towers and arches are set for a new chapter as the majestic place of worship gets ready to open its doors for the first time in nearly a decade following a lengthy renovation.

Once a symbol of Ottoman influence, it was known for more than a century as the Roman Catholic Saint Philippe Cathedral after France's conquest of Algeria, only to revert to a mosque when the country claimed independence in 1962 following a bloody struggle.

In 2008 it was shut down as the ravages of time -- and a powerful earthquake -- took their toll.

But much to the delight of local residents it will soon be up and running again after more than three years of restoration work, funded by the Turkish government.

"I can't wait to return there to pray," said Salim, a trader working nearby, who declined to give his second name.

"My father brought me here to pray for the first time in 1978 when I was just nine years old."

Bloody assault
The date of the first mosque built on the site remains under debate but the earliest references to it can be found in 1612.

In the late 18th century, the Ottoman ruler of the region Hassan Pasha completely transformed the location and turned it into one of the grandest mosques in the city.

That lasted only for around 40 years until the French seized Algeria and requisitioned the building by force.

"Its conversion into a church in 1832 took place after an assault by the colonial army" that claimed the lives of some of "the several hundred faithful who had dug in to oppose the takeover," said Aicha Hanafi, professor of archeology at the University of Algiers.

"That same year, on December 24, they celebrated the first Christmas Mass," she said.

The Christian capture of the mosque brought both a physical and spiritual change to the building.

A large part was knocked down as the site was enlarged to become the city's principal cathedral.

Two bell towers, designed in an Eastern style, were erected, framing a new entrance at the top of a grand staircase.

Its first women
After returning to its original function following independence some 55 years ago, the mosque underwent cosmetic changes to make it conform to the demands of the Muslim faith.

Now the latest renovations have seen a greater overhaul, restoring more original features and making space for some 1,200 faithful, including, for the first time, women.

"We did all that we could to maintain the historical monument," said Abdelouahab Zekkagh, director of the national agency that oversees the use of historical buildings.

He said that the minarets were taken apart stone by stone and those blocks that were too badly worn were swapped for new ones bought in from the west of the country.

The original minbar (pulpit) built by the Ottomans in 1794 has been restored and the niche indicating the direction of prayer has been repainted in gold leaf by a Turkish craftsman.

Architect Akli Amrouche is slightly disappointed that the new verses of the Koran inscribed on the walls do not match the originals.

But, overall, after the long road that the mosque has travelled he is happy with the facelift.

"It is an excellent job, the minarets have been saved and the prayer room renovated," he said.

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

November 17, 2017

Exhibition brings together the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo

Bacon portrait of Freud to be shown for the first time since 1965

Rubens' daughter comes to the Scottish National Gallery

Eli Wilner and Company brings their restoration studio to the AIG Private Client Group Exhibitor Showcase

Pricing the priceless: the $450mn Da Vinci record

The largest mammoth skeleton in private hands to be offered at Aguttes

Washington's Bible museum aims to skirt the political weeds

Met Museum receives $80 million gift from the Irving Family

Cincinnati Art Museum commemorates 500 years since the Reformation with Dürer exhibition

North Carolina Museum of Art Director Lawrence J. Wheeler announces retirement

Secret Holocaust-era archive on display in Poland

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale totals $41.3 million

China's futuristic library: More fiction than books

Dutch woman with a trumpet taking Colombian salsa by storm

Nepal's musicians retune to tradition

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park breaks ground on $115 million expansion project

Three Bugatti bronzes and a Torsade table by Giacometti highlight Artcurial Art Deco sale

Exhibition of large-scale photographs by Michael Eastman opens at Edwynn Houk Gallery

The Rockwell Museum unveils new Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Gallery

A journey of transforming video games into art

Exhibition of art created by or about Oklahomans opens at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Aboriginal masterpiece by Emily Kame Kngwarreye sells for £1.2 million

Three significant large scale paintings by Alex Katz on view at Peter Blum Gallery's new downtown location

Scored by history, overhauled Algiers mosque to reopen

Fiumano Projects and Orion Contemporary merge to become Fiumano Clase

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time

2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala

3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet

4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater

5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù

6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online

7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines

8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School

9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion

10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful