Tlemcen by L.F
The Romans recognized the possibilities of this green and hilly region and established the station of Pomaria. The Arab conquerors may have advanced to the springs of Tlemcen about 670-680, but at any rate it is known that in the 8th century Idriss 1st established a new town, Agadir, on the site of the Roman station. At the beginning of the 12th century the Almoravid leader Youcef Ibn Tachfine founded a new city nearby, Tagrart, which can be regarded as the origin of the present town.
As a capital of the Abd ElWahid dynasty which was established by Yaghmoracen in 1236, Tlemcen achieved a degree of prosperity under the renewed dynasty of the Zianids- that contrasted with the perpetual turmoil of its internal politics. In perpetual conflicts with the Moroccan and Hafsid neighbors, the town underwent several sieges, the most famous by the Merinids, who built the rival town of Manhsoura. Then came the Turkish conquest, 1554. Under the Ottoman rule the town was a distant citadel, firmly held by a garrison which intermarried with the native people, producing the crossbreeds known as the Kouloughlis. Tlemcen was occupied by the French in 1842.
Tlemcen has a distinctive character of its own. It is the only one of the largest towns of Orania which has escaped for any considerable time the economic, intellectual and social upsets of recent decades. It is the only Hadrya town in Algeria a town of authentically Andalusian culture, with a traditional of educated urban life, as distinct from the Makhznia towns which were administrative centers, like the Ottoman towns of Algiers and Constantine- with its chief centre of Islamic culture and its leading artistic centre with an incomparable group of hispano-mauresque buildings, taking their inspiration from Abd ElWahid dynasty. By the time of Idriss 1st Tlemcen was an important centre of Arab culture and even today it has something of the atmosphere of a religious capital.
The town, in its sumptuous setting of gardens and orchards has gradually broken away from its antiquated traditional economy even if there are still handy and skillful craftsmen.
The folk traditions of Tlemcen are among the best preserved in Algeria, the various festivals are the occasion for displays of traditional festivities. The old established families of the town, proud of their heritage preserve intact the traditions of the past, for example, it is the only town in which the bridegroom wears a burnous riding a caparisoned horse, accompanied by a boisterous crowd of friends, complete with a band, to the light of flares, fireworks, mock-fights (baroud) etc...
Among the most famous monuments that are a testimony of the past :
The Mechouar, 12th century, the palace of the Almohad rulers that was containing the residence and government buildings. The arab writers celebrated the riches contained there.
The great Mosque started in 1135 by Youcef Ibn Tachfine and completed in 1236 by Yaghmoracen. It is the largest Almoravid Building. The typical Almoravid austerity contrasts with the intricate decoration of Andalusian inspiration.
Sidi Bel Hassen Mosque, built in 1296, a master piece of arab architecture, now a museum, contains mosaics, carved cedar doors, green onyx columns , stuccoed capitals and extraordinary caved plasterwork on the walls.
The mosque of Choaib Ibn El Hussain Abi Mediene Al Andaloussi, a 12th century theologian better known as Sidi Boumediene who came from Seville. Popular piety encouraged by the Merinid rulers made him the most popular holy man. The tom and the mosque are well preserved.
The mosque of Abou Abdellah Echaoudi, Sidi El Halloui, 1353, who also came from Seville. The mosque has a handsome minaret withblind arcades, interlace ornament and tiles.
The tomb of Rabbi Ephraim Ali Kaoua, who left Seville in 1391 where his was prosecuted and renewed the jewish community of Tlemcen. His tomb is a major pilgrimage place for the jews from all over the world.
Mansourah, the camp of Mehalla El Mansourah, a town (crowded with palaces, baths, caravanserais, souks and mosques) built in 1302 by the sultan of Morocco, Abou Yacoub El Mansour. Reoccupied in 1307 by the Merinids. The outside town walls of puddle earth are fairly well preserved.
Tlemcen is proud of its splendid and prestigious past.
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