Oran is welcoming travelers not tourists. Find here the main areas and places to visit and feel the soul of the city:
Front de mer
Sidi el Houari
Front de mer
That long paseo is often the first contact people have with Oran. Le “Front de mer” is what a lot of travelers and locals keep in mind when they think of the city. This 3-km long boulevard is a balcony on the Mediterranean Sea where at sunset, families go for a walk or to enjoy ice creams.
Every stand has its own special ice cream recipe and sitting on plastic chairs you can take part in one of Algerians’ favorite activities: looking at people passing and talking about them.. The facades of the French architecture buildings and the palm tree-lined alleys give off a mix of Havana and the French Riviera, especially the cupola of the former Martinez hotel.
Oran remains the most European city of Algeria. Take a stroll around the “Place d’Armes” where the statue of the Emir Abdulkader has replaced an Old French Military glory and you will feel like you’re in Marseille or Naples. The recently renovated Town hall, described as a ‘pretentious house’ by Albert Camus, was built in 1886. The two bronze statues of lions represent an allegory of the city name (which explains why locals often call it “Dar Sbou3a” (Lions House)) welcome you to this architectural jewel.
Nearby, you will find yourself facing the ‘Oran Opera,” which was inaugurated in 1907 and has since been renamed Regional Theater Abdelkader Aloula (check Discover to have more info). Roman style statues of bare breasted women top the building symbolizing different arts. Walk few minutes or take the tramway to reach the Boulevard Emir Abdelkader. As you ride, look up to see old remaining of a “Edition Disco Maghreb” poster showing where the former pioneer edition house was located--a real temple of Rai music.
From the Hotel Royal, go down the Boulevard de la Soummam where you will find Le Cintra, an old colonial café with a portrait of Camus,, to remember how as an Algerois (from Algiers the Capital), he was scornful towards Oran.
Take the Rue Larbi BenMhidi , and have a stop at the newly inaugurated Musee d’Arts modernes d’Oran, which is located in the old mauresque department store Galleries Algeriennes. Still a bit empty, we hope that this new place will bring a new dynamism to the local art scene.
Ask for the former rue d’Arzew and its arcades. In front of it you will find few stands selling flowers, put your head up and you will admire an amazing example of 1930 Mediterranean architecture.
Stroll in the direction of the Plateau St Michel, a former residential area where Yves St Laurent was born and lived until he was 17. Ask for the Central Railway station, which is a great example of new Moorish architecture.
Formerly called “Village negre” (Negro village in French), this overcrowded area of Oran was built by the French in 1834 as a gathering place for thelocal indigenous population. Whether you’re looking for food staples, traditional Algerian clothes or cosmetics, you can find it all in the “new city” (Mdina Jdida meaning in English). Go early morning to see the hustle and bustle of clandestine merchants fleeing from the Police or women window shopping for gold.
Sidi el Houari
This area is the historical heart of the city where you can see the different influences which have crossed Oran.
Sidi el Houari , considered as the Saint Patron of Oran, is a Muslim cleric who lived in the 15th century. His mausoleum is at the center of the area and visited by devouts from the region.
The Imam Houari mosque, built in 1799, with an Andalusian style is of a greater architectural interest.
From there, go in direction of the Hammam (old baths) of the Bey. Along with the Bey palace, which is nearby, they are currently undergoing a major renovation.
The Chapel of Santa Cruz is for Oran what The Christ is for Rio. On the top of the Murdjajo Mount, The Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary is still a catholic place of pilgrimage. Built in 1847 to ask for protection from a cholera epidemic, it is a favourite hang-out for visitors, or a place where families take in a panoramic view of Oran.