Dar Aziza
Algiers, Algeria

Dar Aziza is a palace built in the 16th century in Algiers, some time after the city became the capital of an Ottoman regency. The designation of Dar Aziza comes from the name of Princess Aziza Bey (daughter of the Dey of Algiers and wife of the Bey of Constantine). Some historians believe that this is the Bey of Constantine that raised this palace for his wife Aziza. Subsequently, it became the residence of the Beys of Constantine when they came to Algiers.

The earthquake of February 1716 severely damaged the palace, involving major restoration works. During the French occupation, this palace also underwent important restorations. Further transformations occurred in the 1830s, when the palace began to serve as the Archbishop’s palace.  It continued in this capacity until the independence of Algeria, in 1962, when it was converted into a central tourist office.

Spatially, the palace is organized around the central square courtyard (wast ad-dar: center of the house), which provides light and ventilation to the galleries then to the different areas. One of these, particularly decorated and containing a large alcove, was used as a reception area. The old entrance called a skifa (bent entrance with a low ceiling) disappeared during the French transformations.

The current access way is a narrow corridor that leads to the central courtyard. Its door retains the same ornamental principles of other main doors of the palace, namely rounded arch doors, with its spandrels, and piers in finely-carved white marble. They were all made in Italy with Renaissance stylistic influences. The woodwork of the doors is, on the other hand, much more Moorish with an assembly of small rectangular panels alternately horizontal and vertical (qayam wa nayam).

The galleries consist, on each side, of four arches resting on wreathed columns through composite capitals. These arches are all horseshoe arches, pointed at the top, and belong to the four-centered type. In the space between columns of the second floor, there are carved wooden balustrades, divided into three horizontal parts, and topped by armrests.

--Amine Kasmi, 2016 


Sources:

Edwards, Brian et al.(eds). Courtyard Housing: Past, Present and Future. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2006.

Golvin, Lucien. Palais et demeures d'Alger à la période ottomane. Aix-en-Provence: Édisud, 1988.

Hill, Derek and Lucien Golvin. Islamic architecture in North Africa. London: Faber and Faber, 1976.

Ravéreau, André. La Casbah d'Alger, et le site créa la ville. Paris: Sindbad, 1989.

Location
02, place Cheikh Ben Badis-Alger, Algiers, Algeria
Images & Videos
Documents
Associated Names
Associated Collections
Events
16th c.
Style Periods
1299-1922
Dimensions
531m² ; courtyard: 8 x 8 m
Variant Names
Dar Aziza
دار عزيزة
Original
Axxam n-âaziza
Translated
Building Usages
government office
government
palace
palatial
museum
public/cultural
Materials/Techniques
brick
ceramic
marble
lime
stucco