ORAN WHERE HISTORY MEETS THE PRESENT.
Summary: Algeria's second largest commercial centre and a birthplace of the inventive Rai music form, Oran makes a perfect destination for those who like to spend their holidays exploring "undiscovered" hideaways.
The Moorish Andalusian traders who founded Algeria's major port city around AD 937, originally named it Wahran, which translates as "two lions" - hence the presence of two lion statues outside the city hall on Place du 1er Novembre, Oran's main square. The current name is simply a French version of Wahran, coined by the French during their rule in 19th century. Much of the development and progress evident in Oran today can be credited to that period. More recently, the Algerian authorities took on an ambitious USD 19 billion worth of project, seeking to improve infrastructure and turn the city of Oran into attractive Mediterranean metropolis. Filled with history, the city simultaneously beams with easygoing and liberal atmosphere.
The Olden Times
Although parts of Oran offer nothing more than skyscrapers, there are older districts that make for truly interesting sightseeing. In fact, almost the whole city itself is one big sight - full of centenarian French-built apartment buildings that take you back in time to 1940s southern France. If in town, make sure to visit several heritage sites as well.
The Here and Now
Oran has always been Algeria's capital of nightlife and music. You will not have trouble finding a great nightclub, bar, or cabaret, mostly located at La Corniche, which runs from the city's Front de Mer (seafront) all the way to the neighbouring cities. For a daytime leisure, Front de Mer offers multitudes of fine creperies, restaurants, and pizzerias. And for the sandy beaches - while those in the immediate vicinity could use some maintenance - a short trip away from the busy city centre guarantees some of the most scenic seashore views and a relaxing day out.
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