Algeria – A visit to Tlemcen

Recently, we had friends over from Germany and we decided to spend a day in Tlemcen, a city close to the Moroccan border. It’s steeped in history and there’s plenty to do and see. One day is not enough to explore everything, but we got a really good impression – also thanks to a colleague who acted as our local guide.

One thing that immediately caught the eye is the countless minarets, all square brick towers. I still need to find out about the architectural background because I used to think of a minaret as a round and much higher structure.

An amazing surprise was the number of minarets with stork-nests on top, a lot of them occupied or under territorial disputes. It was amazing to see so many White Storks so unexpectedly.

One of the many places of interest in Tlemcen is the Mosque Sidi Boumediene and the adjacent ruin of the palace of the Zayyanid sultan. There are some beautiful remnants of calligraphy in the palace and one can enjoy a view of the city.

We also ventured into the surrounding areas, but that’s for another post.

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Dinosaur of the week: Great Grey Shrike

great grey shrike

On a recent walk through farmland near Oran, we came across this Lanius excubitor (probably ssp. algeriensis). Shrike taxonomy is a minefield.

The birds have a varied diet but eat mostly large beetles – which are in decline because of pesticides and habitat loss. Hence the birds suffer.

Algeria – Kristel

During the Christmas holiday, we thought we’d follow what every Algerian tells you to do on a day off – go to the beach. So, we went to the beach near Kristel which had been recommended by a student.

The beach was rocky, not sandy, but the weather was nice and we were almost alone apart from some anglers.Kristel beachIn the background, on the left is the plateau where we usually go for our afternoon strolls. In the middle is smog-covered Oran and some ships and on the right is the hill with the Fort Santa Cruz (more about which in a soonish to follow post).

I find it extraordinary that people here tell me all the time how much they love the beach and when you get there, it looks like this: rubbishPlastic bags, bottles, bits of fishing nets and fishing lines, plus other stuff. We have now bought some gloves, so next time we’ll go anywhere it’s a beach/forest clean!

Even more remarkable under these conditions was the presence of some birds. We saw Common Sandpiper, Little Egret, Black Wheatear, Sandwich Tern and lots of gulls. The tide was low which gave us a chance to admire the rock pools, too. rock pool