Plan of cathedral, 1852 (from Wikimedia Commons)
The mosque was built under the Ottoman Rule (16th and 17th centuries) at the centre of the Casbah. Its exact location was at the centre of the city at the intersection of the roads from the lower Casbah leading to the five gates of the Algiers city. An unconfirmed mention is made of the mosque in the 14th century, but the confirmed “notarial document” dates it to 1612. However, it was rebuilt by Hasan Pasha according to a commemorative inscription in the later part of the 18th century, when it was glorified as a structure of “unparalleled beauty.” In 1832, the mosque was converted into a cathedral named “St. Philippe Cathedral” by the French. In 1838, following the conquest of the Algerian city of Constantine by the France, Marshal Sylvain Charles Valée had a cross fixed on top of the cathedral. Between 1845 and 1860 the old mosque was demolished and a new church was built. After the liberation of Algeria from French rule, the cathedral’s restitution as the Ketchaoua Mosque in 1962 is considered as “having significant religious and cultural importance,” and it richly testifies to the history of “this mosque-turned-cathedral-turned-mosque”.
Visitors to Algiers will find the Ketchaoua Mosque at the end of the Casbah and it is a building that is not easily missed. The first feature that immediately strikes visitors with fascination is the twenty three step flight of stairs that lead to the mosque entrance. Though seemingly intimidating, the breathtaking portico that is decorated in magnificent designs and its black marble columns are unmistakable and stunning features. What makes the Ketchaoua Mosque extremely intriguing is the combination of Moorish and Byzantine architectural styles. The interior of the mosque is filled with stunning arcades, white marble columns, beautiful chambers, minarets and ceilings that display unique Moorish plaster work.
Dar Hassan Pasha (front) and the Ketchaoua mosque, 1844 (from Wikimedia Commons).
Plan of the old mosque (from Wikimedia Commons)