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A Year for Tlemcen
03:46:11 AM Wednesday May 25, 2011

Some of you are perhaps much more familiar with Tlemcen than I am, as it is a city I have yet to visit. Amongst us in the Maghrebin cultures, we know of Tlemcen for its history, art, architecture, and music. But the rest of the Arab and Muslim world may not have heard of it much (if at all in the case of many), until recently it was designated a Cultural Capital of the Islamic World for 2011 by ISESCO.

At home we watched on TV the inauguration of Tlemcen and the celebration of this title, and you couldn't help but want to go visit and explore for yourself, as you would with other historic cities in the Maghreb. But what struck me personally, having visited other very historic places in Algeria, was the huge difference between on the one hand the official attitude towards taking pride and care of the city, making it clean and beautiful and safe for visitors, and showing off its cultural richesse, and on the other hand, the sad, sometimes outrageous neglect of other cities that have equal importance, cultural and historic value, and touristic potential.

Like I said, I've yet to set foot in Tlemcen personally, and can't wait for the opportunity to do so, but really hope it does not disappoint, that it is up to par, clean and safe not just for visitors from overseas but for everyone, and that other cities (can we start with Algiers, helloo?..) will follow suit in the receipt of attention and care not just artistically and architecturally, but on every level.

If anyone has been there recently, give us the scoop :)

I also was surprised to see Tlemcen mentioned earlier this year in this NY Times list of 41 places to go in 2011.. it made it to spot #16 out of 41.. not bad, especially coming from an American newspaper, when most average Americans (or even some highly "educated" ones, as I discovered yesterday) don't even know where Algeria is, and might randomly ask "Nigeria? How come you're not black??"

aya, fi khaterkoum, enough for today :)

some more photos here

and you can view a list of other designated Islamic Cultural Capitals at ISESCO's website here.

The content of this page —graphics, text and other elements—is © Copyright 2007 prospective author, and Raioo, Inc., only when stated otherwise, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher.

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7:33 am    May 25, 2011

Kathleen Woolrich message
I went to Tlemcen in 2007 . It was one of the capitals of Algerian Judaism and they still have immaculate cemetaries. It has little marabouts ( little buildings) and spiritual sufi leaders would come from as far as syria to teach there. It also has the mosque sidi boumedienne, immortalised in the Cheb Khaled song Sidi Boumedienne. Inside the mosque, the graves are covered in cloth and if you light a candle, you can make a wish.

Another thing is that this was the site of terrorism, the mosque was firebombed by terrorists during the years of terror. It also has moroccan inlfluences and there is a square tower of Mansour there, very tall and amazing and some parts of Tlemcen look like Morocco. It was one of the highlights of my life. I visited the city and the Sidi Boumedienne mosque in December of 2007. That was where Kate Winslet was headed in the movie hideous kinky. She was sufi..


hudhud's notes (47)
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