The exact date of Dar Bakri’s construction is unknown. It could be built in the mid-16th century and renovated in the 18th century. Nevertheless, these dates remain hypotheses that need to be taken with caution. Bakri is the name of a famous Jewish merchant from the time of the last dey of Algiers, Hussein Dey. This name was widely used during the period of French occupation. However, the local population called the house Dar Khudawaj al-'Amya, the name of an Ottoman finance minister’s daughter from the late 18th century.
Its layout is similar to the other houses and palaces of the Qasba
. It has a courtyard that is surrounded by two levels of galleries. Each gallery side has three pointed horseshoe arches supported by thin half wreathed columns. The galleries give access to the rooms of the house including the main room, which is located on the upper floor. The courtyard is currently covered with a glass roof and has relatively modest proportions.
The particularity of this house lies in the location of the courtyard level, which is in the second level of the house. The first level (or the ground level) contains the dwira (small annex house), as well as a series of three small skifat (sing., skifa; vaulted vestibules), ending in the staircase that leads to the courtyard level. The third skifa is the largest and is similar to that of Dar Mustapha Pacha
, although, the latter is much larger. The niches in the skifat walls are supported by Algiers-style arches resting on clusters of three small columns. From Italy, these clustered columns with shafts decorated in a chevron pattern have no similar in the Qasba
After the French occupation in 1830, Dar Bakri housed the first French town hall of the city of Algiers, until it was transferred in 1839. It was then allocated to various senior officials until 1947. It was assigned then to the technical craft services. After Algeria’s independence, a decree in 1987 established the house as a National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions.
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.
Ravéreau, André. La Casbah d'Alger, et le site créa la ville. Paris: Sindbad, 1989.