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Algiers is a city that has always been able to capture the imagination and passions of many travelers over the centuries. First Phoenician, then Ottoman, the stories of the Algerian capital are enclosed in the sea and in those who have not been afraid of it.
From the Phoenicians to the Spaniards
The first settlement was founded by the Phoenicians with the name of Icosium in about 300 BC, later being conquered by the Carthaginians. The settlement will then follow the history of the Punic capital, later being annexed to the Roman Empire and earning first Latin citizenship and then becoming even the seat of a bishopric. Its fate, however, will change definitively with the fall of the Empire and the subsequent arrival of the Arabs.
The latter are responsible for the Algiers we know today, officially founded in 944 by the hand of Bologhine ibn Ziri, the first ruler of his dynasty in the region. The city will then end up under the control of Hammanide, Almohad and finally of the Zayyanids who will make it the most important city in this area together with Oran and Tlemecen, their capital. Its fate, however, will change once again with the arrival of the Spaniards.
The city of pirates
For some time, in fact, the Iberians had set their sights on conquest right on the African coast, starting to place the first settlements in the 14th century and confirming them in 1510 with the conquest of Algiers itself. The Ottoman corsairs then, led by the Barbarossa brothers, gave way to several sieges and raids, enough to make it, already in 1529, the capital of a kingdom connected to Istanbul but de facto independent.
The settlement will become the official center of all Mediterranean pirate activities, also involving many Europeans fleeing the Old Continent. The flow of converts and renegades, in fact, found its Mecca in the city, helping to make its population more varied, as well as bringing fresh labor for pirate assaults. This activity became the main source of income in Algiers, so much so that many wanted to block its advance because they were damaged by continuous raids. After several attacks (even by Americans), the city lost its entire fleet, becoming easy prey for the French who, in 1830, transformed it into one of the most important centers of their colonial rule.
Discover “the modern part” in our article on “The battle of Algiers” by Gillo Pontecorvo. Follow us on our facebook page, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, or on our Telegram channel. Any like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: to tell the story of the Middle East