août 30, 2022

The Palace of the Raïs « Bastion 23″…

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The Palace of the Raïs (in Arabic: قصر الرياس Qsar er-Rayasa) also called Bastion 23 is one of the most important historical monuments of the city of Algiers. It is also one of the last witnesses to testify physically to the prolongation of the Medina of Algiers (Casbah) towards the sea until the nineteenth century.

The history of the palace begins with the construction of Bordj-Ez-zoubia in 1576 by the Dey Ramdhan Pasha, in order to strengthen the means of defense of the lower medina. It is named successively by the names Quaâ-Essour (bottom of the rampart), Sebâa tbaren (the seven taverns) and Topanet Arnaout because of the artillery pieces erected by the raïs Mami Arnaout. The name of Bastion 23 was given to him after the construction of the ramparts of the French city. On the other hand, the numbers designating the palaces (palace 16, palace 17, etc.) and the houses of the fishermen are cadastral attributions dating from the same period.

After 1830, the palace 18 became the residence of the commander of the civil engineering, then of the boarding school for girls, then served as consulate of the United States, then residence of the Duke of Aumale and finally of municipal library.
After 1962, Algerian families squatted the historic site and brought about transformations. This occupation, though partially damaging, paradoxically allowed the woodwork of certain rooms to be kept in an extraordinary state of preservation (the families were brushing the ceilings of lime, which preserved the carved woods). Added to this, the bad weather and the proximity of the sea caused detrimental consequences to the point that the building threatened to collapse.

In 1980, the Ministry of Culture began the various stages of taking charge of the historical monument. First, the relocation of the squatters, then the study and restoration of what will become the Center of Arts and Culture of the Palais des Raïs (Bastion 23). The project of restoration of this historical monument, had as major preoccupation, its rehabilitation and its enhancement for a better exploitation. The works were spread out from 1987 to 1993 and the palace was opened to the public in 1994.

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