Things To Do In Oran
The coastal city of Oran is one of Algeria’s industrial cities that produce construction materials and textiles. Oran lies in a region of wooded hills and fertile plains. Here, farmers grow wheat, citrus fruits and vegetables, producing enough food for their families. The Atlas Mountains divide the coastal region from the desert. In the high mountain plateau locations, herders settle with their cattle, goats and sheep for most of the year, but leave their villages in search of fresh pasture when grazing becomes scarce.
The locals of Oran are very passionate people, from soccer to politics. They are warm and friendly if you show interest in their culture. The social culture places high esteem on 'face', honor and family ties. They live in a culture with a mixture of different influences (Arab, French, Spanish, and Berber’s Tamazight) and like all Muslim countries, the male is the dominating member of the family and the women are highly regarded. In Algeria, men and women don't normally interact unless they truly know each other. The weekend begins on Friday until Saturday. Friday is a day for prayer for most Muslims. Most shops and tourist spots remain closed during this day.
When To Go:
There is little rainfall, and only undrinkable salt water collects in marshy depressions called chotts. The climate is mostly hot but less extreme than in the desert to the south. The province of Oran (have a moderate Mediterranean climate. During spring (March - June) and autumn season (September - December), you'll encounter cool climate that is suitable for touring in spite of the fact that there will be intermittent showers/ stormy days.
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Summer (June - August) is humid and arid (up to 36°C. Winter (January - February) is fair (10°C) and damp. In Oran; the fall, winter and spring season are the best time to visit (October - April). There are no peak tourist seasons in the whole island of Algeria, and henceforth as the year progressed, you have the greater part of planning everything you can do on any months of the year. Except for the month of Ramadan (Islamic fasting month), when everything is closed and subsequently a holiday or tour is not advisable.
These are the things to do and popular attractions to see in the province of Oran.
Fort Santa Cruz
The Fort Santa Cruz I one of the many remnants of the Spanish presence in Oran, Algeria. It is regarded as part of the Hispanic heritage that is placed on top of the hill overlooking the bay and the port of Oran. You will have the best view of the Mediterranean and the great port city. To reach the he last section you must walk along a stony track. Once you reach the entrance, you will see a small sign and marker describing the history of its Spanish construction. It was built slightly higher than the Chapelle that bears the identical name, and therefore has a better view of the entire city from the top.
The site reminds everyone of the historic part of this city. You feel like being transported to how it was during the 1600’s as you walk and pass through its well-preserved buildings and fortress walls. It is advisable to get a guide to learn more about the place and its influence to Oran culture and faith.
It has a very nice historical vestige and relics that are still in good condition, it seems (as seen from below and from the Santa Cruz Chapelle) to dominate the city of Oran because of its high location. It is moving to see the sustainability of these monuments despite its century old presence. A visit to the Chapelle de Santa Cruz is highly recommended to better understand the connection of these two important structures that are watching over the city of Oran.
Chapelle de Santa Cruz
The Chapelle de Santa Cruz dominates the city and an amazing view. The chapel is open every day until evening. Mass is celebrated on Sundays by various Catholic denominations, Protestant, Evangelists, and it is open for all regardless of faith and religious denomination. See the Madonna, the Virgin of Santa Cruz perched on top of the tower looking immutable and eternal, which continues to dominate and protect the city of Oran. One can see it from everywhere, even from the airport’s arrival and departure area. As for the main sanctuary, the church has guards to protect it from any intrusion. The chapel, also intact, is still sometimes used for religious celebrations and the statue of the virgin, the original of which was transported from Nimes welcomes visitors to the crypt section of the chapel.
It is best to go there with a group or with a local guide that you can hire and be aware also of the roadblocks and military checkpoints you will encounter along the way. The uphill climb is also dotted with police detachments to secure the church and the territory. When there is no fog you can have a wonderful view of Oran and the nearby Mediterranean Ocean. The Church is very simple and has lots of images. The nearby fort and this church is a good place to unwind from the bustle of the city.
La Gare d'Oran
The La Gare d’Oran is a train station located in a momentous building constructed during the 19th century in Moorish style. The ceiling of the booking lobby is without a doubt worth a look, regardless of the fact that you aren't taking a train ride to get to another city you can freely explore its parts and learn so much about its story. It is a pleasant building, resembling a mosque.
This one in Oran in addition to the one in the town of Annaba is both equally wonderful. It’s a train station that reflects the style in Arabic and colonial architecture, come in and be fascinated by one of the best places to see in Oran. Inside, the station is distinctly of French character heavily influenced by the French colonists who built so many forts along the Sahara region. It also symbolizes the presence of the Spanish because of some Andalusia style that is evident on the handrails and design of the benches.
Place du 1er Novembre
The Place du 1er Novembre is a square with an Opera House and a tram (Tranvia). The tram Oran is exemplary in its design, cleaning, fluency, etc. The square is dominated by the beautiful Opera, and a central monument. But the tram crossings added an aesthetic and practical value. Stop by costs less than half a euro. From this area, you can enjoy a pleasant stroll, feed the pigeons or just sit on the bench and go people watching. You should definitely visit the observation deck which overlooks the beautiful scenic views of the city of Oran in general. It was recently renovated and prettier than before.
With the theater next door, just down the tram, and the hall above, the Place is also full of colonial monuments and traces of rich history in every corner that is a definite must-see when in the city of Oran.
Everyone loves this place with the statue in the middle; tourists also like to be photographed with the two lions of the great hall in front that surrounds the theater of Oran. There's even the new tram line which was built to have easy access from the nearby hotels and parks of the city center. It is hard to get lost because there are a lot of means of bus-taxi-tram transport. Next to it you will find one of the oldest communities of Oran named the Sidi el Houari (dedicated to the patron saint of the city).
La Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur
The La Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur is a beautiful brick building designed in the Romanesque-Byzantine architecture and built in the early twentieth century to serve as the main cathedral of Oran. Today it is now a public library and a local attraction that tourists and residents of Oran can freely visit. The former cathedral of Oran is regularly maintained and protected from degradation due to age and has kept its original charm.
It is impossible to cross Oran without discovering its attractions and the renovated landmarks and monument. The old cathedral has a grandiose monument with very beautiful architecture, and admirable frescoes on the front, inside it has immense well-maintained rooms that are suitable for a public library.
Le Theatre d'Oran
Le Theatre d'Oran is an architectural masterpiece and a must visit attraction in Oran that has a unique Baroque architecture that is well preserved both outside and inside. Visit the balconies, the view of the stage and the decorated ceiling is breathtaking. It was constructed in 1883 by an architect Inez and was first called the Opera d Oran because it was the only regional theater of Oran. The theater has a very beautiful façade and overall architecture that is reminiscent of the French colonial era, and is very well maintained until today. The theater is located in the heart of the downtown area right across from the park called November 1st.
Musee National Ahmed Zabana
The Musee National Ahmed Zabana can be found in a building that houses a part of the city’s cultural and political history and the entire country. To enjoy your visit, a tour is best done preferably with a guide. This is the ideal place to go if you don’t have enough time to see the rest of the interesting cities of Algeria. What makes it stand out among other attractions located within the city is that you can trace the beginning of the city, its humble origin from Stone Age to the modern era. French, Arabs, Turkish, and other influences are all equally presented and discussed what their contribution to the country is.
The primary exhibition hall is seldom visited by travelers; however the Musée Zabana is one of the keys to knowing the city, despite the fact that the accumulation doesn't generally fill the entire magnificence of the building.
The first floor recounts the detailed story of the fight for freedom, the touching part is to see the list of the people who risked their lives for the country’s independence from France in the years 1954 up to 1962.There is one part of the museum that is dedicated to nature and highlights stuffed animals like the monster lobsters, a huge calamari, and a huge shark that was all captured in the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally intriguing are the old sculptures, some great mosaics and terracotta representations. The artwork collection is also astonishing, as it presents a mix of artworks created during the 20th century. One of the notable collections is done by a French Orientalist artist named Eugene Fromentin and other eighteenth century investigations of legendary subjects done by other artists.
Citadelle de la Casbah
The Citadelle de la Casbah is considered the heart of Oran, although some parts or the houses are in a state of dilapidation. It is essential to be accompanied by a local guide if you plan to walk around the many streets that are part of Oran’s history. The Kasbah here is not as huge as the one in the capital city, Algiers. It is also not as cramped and busy, but this place is definitely worth a visit, especially during daylight hours because at night it is not safe to go around especially if you go on a solo tour of this point of interest in Oran.
The first impression that you will perceive once you go around to explore it is the absence of cleanness (the same is true in the Kasbah of Algiers) yet you will discover intriguing old places of worship (deserted) and old mosques in addition to the popular street market and see folkloric individuals dressed with turbans and ladies wearing chador that hides half of their faces. From this part you can buy spices, carpets, prayer rugs, brass pots for decorations and lots of dining places that offer the homemade dishes of Oran.
Marche Medina Jedida
The Marche Medina Jedida is the main commercial center of the city. Algeria’s second largest city is not blessed with shopping malls or luxury brand boutiques, but it has preserved its old medina where everyone can buy all they need, from clothing, perfume, traditional Muslim clothes, and evening dresses for women, imported products, and a variety of shops that offer nice stuff to delight every shopaholic’s desire.
Enjoy a shopping spree experience with less lines and long queues when you visit the only medina of Oran. There are lots of bargain items, handicrafts, and the usual household products and toys that are cheap and imported from China.
Eglise St. Louis
The Eglise St. Louis is an old church built during the Spanish Era but now looks totally abandoned. However, the façade still stands and serve as a reminder of how grand this church used to be. It is now in poor condition and pictures can only be taken outside, entrance is however discouraged because of the dilapidated state and unkempt state of the former main cathedral of Oran.
The monumental architecture still looks perfect, but some locals placed a marker saying not to enter it especially during the windy season because the frame might collapse and cause injury to anyone who attempt to discover its interiors.
La Grande Synagogue d'Oran
The Jewish presence in Oran dates back from the end of the XIV century after a massive relocation from the island of Mallorca. History states that right after the Inquisition period that was established with Spain, the remaining Spanish Jews were casted out (as what Spain had previously done with the French and English people from their nations).
It is around this time too that many of the Jews preferred to leave Oran anyhow when Algeria got complete freedom from the French in 1962. Almost all of the Jews were casted out from the new and independent nation. Until now, the people of Israel are not permitted to enter the country or any city along the Mediterranean coast. In 1975, the state decided to make the La Grande Synagogue d’Oran into a Mosque.
La Porte d'Espagne
The La Porte d'Espagne is an impressive work of stone carving done at the top of the door of the Qasr el-Bey.
It was built between the walls of the 1300’s and during the years of the Spanish era during the 1600’s and 1700’s for the ruler of the Ottoman palace. It is one of the remaining relics of the past that is still preserved and admired by the modern generation.
Qasr el-Bey (Bey Castle)
Witness the history of Oran unfold in your eyes on a visit to the Qasr el-Bey. The beloved castle reflects the different eras by the countries who once ruled the city of Oran, a kind of stratification of civilizations or the so called "Mérinide” of the Spanish, French and Algerian Ottoman civilization.
The city of Oran prioritizes the preservation of this place and the tourism factor of the attraction. If you have the chance to visit, do not hesitate to make a turn and discover what is hidden behind these walls and the colorful past of Oran City.