Medieval and Ottoman Hammams of Algeria: Elements for a Historical Study of Baths Architecture in North Africa
Type
journal article
Year
2009
Algerian medinas (Islamic cities) have several traditional public baths (hammams). However, these hammams are the least known in the Maghreb countries. The first French archaeological surveys carried out on Islamic monuments and sites in Algeria, have found few historic baths in medieval towns. All along the highlands route, from Algiers (capital city of Algeria located in the North) to Tlemcen (city in the Western part of Algeria), these structures are found in all the cities founded after the Islamic religion expanded in the Western North Africa. These buildings are often associated to large mosques. In architectural history, these baths illustrate original spatial and organizational compositions under form proportions, methods of construction, ornamental elements and the technical skills of their builders.

The ancient traditions of bathing interpreted in this building type are an undeniable legacy. They are present through architectural typology and technical implementation reflecting the important architectural heritage of the great Roman cities in Algeria, Furthermore, these traditions and buildings evolved through different eras. Master builders, who left Andalusia to seek refuge in the Maghreb countries, added the construction and ornamentation skills and techniques brought from Muslim Spain, while the Ottomans contribution in the history of many urban cities is important. Hence, the dual appellation of the hammam as “Moorish bath” and “Turkish bath” in Algeria is the perfect illustration of the evolution of bath architecture in Algeria.
Citation
Cherif-Seffadj, Nabila. "Medieval and Ottoman Hammams of Algeria: Elements for a Historical Study of Baths Architecture in North Africa," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 3, issue 1 (2009).
Parent Publications
Authorities
Copyright
Nabila Cherif-Seffadj
Country
Algeria
Language
English
Keywords
city and regional development
historical architecture
Islamic architecture
research in architecture
sustainable development