Walking the Hillsides of Algiers

Saturday, March 7, 2015 | Telemly, Algiers, Algeria (map)

A narrow chute off Boulevard Mohamed V.
For many people, Chutes and Ladders is merely a board game. By contrast, here in Algiers it is the daily experience of navigating the city.

Almost a year ago, in "Around Algiers: Navigating the Invisible City", I wrote about the Algerian capital's circuitous roads and about the hidden staircases that crisscross its punishingly steep hillsides. Since then, I have continued to explore the city on foot, discovering yet more stairs connecting seemingly distant points, and offering the ambitious pedestrian a multitude of serene, jasmine- and bouganvillea-lined passages through town.

Just last month, Nina and I spent a few Saturday afternoons exploring along the hillsides above downtown, in and beyond my neighborhood of Telemly. Even after
two years here, I'm still shocked to find yet more stairs, and to again raise my mental estimate of just how many of these hidden passages zigzag through the city. We also came across numerous ornate colonial-era villas, their outer walls obscuring all but the upper stories and the orange, lemon, and palm trees of their courtyard gardens.

If my memory serves me, this villa was at 19 rue des Fontaines, Telemly.
As we worked our way across the hills, I stopped to admire the architectural flourishes all around: the elegantly curved balustrades, mosaic tile inlays above the windows, and frosted glass Art Deco porticos. A once-resplendent building, the former Djamila Palace Hotel, exemplified many we saw along our route: still regal, even in its dilapidated state (a result of the very limited maintenance that these architectural wonders appear to receive).

On those sharply clear winter afternoons, sudden views of the bay below or snowy mountains on the horizon peeked between the buildings; paired with the urban treasures all around, they made these walks into some very memorable outings.

Yours truly, exploring the sunny passages of Telemly.
Of course I walked with my Rolleicord in hand, fussing with knobs and snapping away the whole time. On my recent weekend in Berlin, I was able to develop the small pile of film that I had accumulated. There were no jaw-droppers among the shots, but they nicely captured the experience of wandering the city's hillsides and finding new surprises around each bend.

A selection of my photos from these walks:

2 comments:

raoufe redda said...

"sudden views of the bay below or snowy mountains on the horizon peeked between the buildings; paired with the urban treasures all around"
Algiers in one sentence

Andrew Farrand said...

Thanks so much, Raoufe !

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