The governorate of Constantine in eastern Algeria is rich in unique and famous monuments, perhaps the most important of which are the suspension bridges, in addition to the Ahmed Bey Palace, which has been turned into a museum documenting life of the last rulers of the Algerian East during the Ottoman era, and who resisted the French occupation of the country (1830-1962).
The Ahmed Bey Palace currently bears the name of “National Museum of Traditional Arts and Expressions”, because the decision to create it was taken in October 2010. Read also A new book tells the epic of Algeria through Iliad Moufdi Zakaria How to France used the weapon of architecture to face the Algerian revolution? The mysterious “pyramids of the wall”… the Berber and funerary monuments of Algeria in the face of oblivion The capital of the third world and the cradle of the liberation movements colonialism .. the time of international activists in Algeria
Ahmed Bey – in 1825 – ordered the construction of the palace, which was the seat of government in “Baylak al-Sharq” (Constantine) during the Ayala of Algeria (the period of Ottoman rule in Algeria between 1518 and 1830) , and the work did not stop there until 1835.
The “Haji Ahmed Bey” museum is located in the heart of Constantine (the third largest city in the country after the capital and Oran), which is called the capital of eastern Algeria and the city of suspension bridges, more precisely between Didouche Mourad and Jerusalem of the streets.
The Anadolu Agency visited the palace with the special guide, Haydar Rawaq, and received detailed explanations on the site.
Rwaq says: “Ahmed Bay Palace was built in 1825, and its construction lasted until 1835, which is 10 years (of construction). As for the oldest gate of the palace, which is almost two centuries old, it is made of walnut trees. and is 400 years old, and it was brought from the house of the emirate to the region. Himself. “
He explains that “Ahmed Bey lived in the palace for two years. After the fall of Constantine in 1837, the French took it over. ”
“The palace has several wings, the shrine wing, which is a place reserved for the Bey family, and the family consists of 4 wives, his daughter and his mother.” Publicity
The palace also contains a second wing dedicated to the women (slave girls) and the palace maids, and a third wing that the Bey lived with his family in winter only, because the sun shines on it, and the presence of a bathroom below helps to heat the place.
According to Riwaq, “in summer, the third wing turns into a place where the Bey receives only his relatives and some of his guests, but not all”.
In his speech, the guide points out that “the most important thing in the palace is the administrative wing, and it contains two courts: the first is civil, in which two judges oversee the magistracy from Saturday to Thursday. As for the big questions, the Bey will rule on Friday. The other is a military tribunal located on the upper floor. “. https://www.youtube.com/embed/KVJcsRHjTj8?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
He points out that “the architecture of the palace is a mix between Moorish and local styles, like the Moriscos (compared to the Moors who remained under Christian rule after the fall of Andalusia in 1492 AD), its gardens are located inside, and the local is derived from architectural designs in the Maghreb and North Africa. “
The palace has an area of 5,600 square meters and has 121 rooms and 256 marble columns of various shapes. The area of the ground floor is one thousand square meters, while the area of the stable reaches 517 square meters, according to Riwaq, who points out that “Diwan al-Bey includes 15 windows, through which the master of the palace can observe everything that is happening in his palace. “
As for the “zellij” (gypsum or marble panel with geometric patterns) used in the architecture of palaces, it came from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Tunisia. The palace also contains 4 open spaces: the orange garden, the palm garden, the pond and the center of the house. Each space includes a water fountain to change the air and refresh the palate.
According to the palace guide, “the Bey used the fountain to talk to the people closest to him, who was the waiter (his servant) so that the guests and those around him could not hear him.”
The walls and ceilings of some wings of the palace are adorned with original handwritten drawings, most of which have not disappeared, while others – which are in the process of restoration – reflect some of the cities visited by Ahmed Bey, notably Medina. and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Memory of Constantine
Algerian media, Sorour Boumzebre, told Anadolu agency that the Ahmed Bey Museum is the memory of Constantine, and it is one of the oldest palaces in the city. It was restored after being chosen “capital of Arab culture in 2015”.
She explains that the palace has undergone restoration operations by Spanish experts in partnership with Algerians, indicating its strategic location in the heart of the ancient city, as it is located on a rocky hill overlooking two sides (i.e. two streets).
Concerning the symbolism of the palace, Bomzebre says that it “represents the Ottoman era in Algeria (1518-1830), and that it is necessary to visit it to discover part of the history of the city and the personalities who have it. crossing before French colonization.
In turn, Iman bin Warath, a university student at the Constantine Sharia Faculty, says that she is visiting Ahmed Bey’s palace for the first time, accompanied by her friend.
“The palace is very beautiful and I liked its architecture. It is a heritage space that reflects the civilization and history of Constantine and Algeria in general, ”added Ben Warath in an interview with the Anadolu agency.
She believes that “the palace expresses the history of our country and our Arab and Islamic identity. It is a place that attracts tourists and makes an economic return, so it must be preserved and people are encouraged to visit it ”.
Bin Wharth considers it important to study the history of the characters mentioned in the books, as well as to trace their impact and achievements.
Who is Ahmed Bey?
Ahmed Bey, born in Constantine around 1784, is Ahmed bin Muhammad al-Sharif bin Ahmed al-Qali, of Kargali origin (of a Turkish father and an Algerian mother), he received a traditional education and a good education , according to the National Center for Studies and Research of the National Movement (government).
Ahmed Bey learned horseback riding at a young age, which later enabled him to assume the post of commander of the guard of the powerful “Harakat” tribes (Chaouia Berbers in eastern Algeria) in 1809.
Ahmed Bey was known for his strong personality when he ruled Bailek Constantine (a province east of Algeria) in 1826.
As soon as he took office, he undertook serious and fair administrative reforms. He also rebuilt an organized army and took care of its training.
Ahmed Bey was able to repel the French attack on Constantine in 1836, but after a year the French returned the balloon and were able to occupy it in 1837.
After a long struggle against the French colonialist, Ahmed Bey died in 1856 in Algiers, and was buried in the ground of the corner of the mausoleum of Sheikh Sidi Abdel Rahman Thaalabi.