About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 38 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 11 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Algeria Day 07: Constantine - The City of Bridges...

“On the path to greatness, life teaches you to walk with stones in your shoes...” - Matshona Dhliwayo

(Ahmed Bey Palace, Constantine)

Day 07: 10 October 2016 (Monday)
Route: Constantine City Tour
Hotel: Ibis Hotel, Constantine

Constantine is the capital of Constantine Province in north-eastern Algeria. During Roman times it was called Cirta and was renamed ‘Constantina’ in honor of Emperor Constantine the Great. Situated slightly inland, it is about 80 km from the Mediterranean coast, on the banks of the Rhumel River.

(After breakfast at Ibis Hotel, Constantine)
(Dark moody sky over the City in the Sky)

Regarded as the capital of eastern Algeria and the centre of its region, Constantine has a population of near half a million, making it the third largest city in the country after Algiers and Oran. There are museums and important historical sites around the city. It is often referred to as the City of Bridges due to the numerous picturesque bridges connecting the mountains the city is built on.

(The city on the mountain viewed from Ibis Hotel) 
(The influence of French architecture)
(Interesting combination of architecture) 
(The wet market, bustling busy in the morning)

We had a heavy buffet breakfast in the hotel before our full day tour of the town. Our first visit was to the Cirta National Museum. The Museum displays the many Roman artifact discovered by archaeologists in and around the city. The word ‘Cirta’ refers to the name of the city when it was part of the Kingdom of Numidia before Roman rule.

(The Cirta National Museum)
(Beautiful awesome paintings of the gorges of Constantine) 
(An old painting from the Roman era)

The museum consists of a ground floor with an exhibition hall, upper floor and a garden. The exhibits are divided into Fine Arts, Ethnographic and Archaeological. The Archaeological section offers a comprehensive overview of the history of the area. The Fine Arts section displays paintings and sculptures. The Ethnographic section of the museum includes manuscripts relating to various sciences, as well as antique carpets, jewelry, firearms, copper items and traditional dress. The gardens of the museum showcase a collection of stone and marble sculptures.

(Artifact from the Kingdom of Numidia)
(A statue of a Roman warrior)

The van dropped us somewhere in the center of town and we had a brief walking tour of the city. We were escorted on foot by uniformed policemen and a few undercover police personnel. Although Algeria seems peaceful and calm, we were informed that the Islamic State group has caused unrest in certain wilaya in Algeria all these years.

The group has been trying to expand in Algeria, where al-Qaida's North African branch and other Islamic extremist groups have been based and have long fought Algerian authorities.

(A monument for the dead martyrs)
(The main square, Place 1 November 1954)
(A large congregation in the main square)
(A short walk along the shopping streets)

We visited the Ahmed Bey Palace next. The palace took 7 years to complete starting two years after Hajj Ahmed became ruler of Constantine. On completion, the Bey moved in but unfortunately, he only lived in there for two years before the French came and chased him out, turning the palace into their headquarters. The Algerian military moved in after the country’s independence. The palace has been shut down for more than 25 years, with major restoration still on-going.

(Ahmed Bey Palace, time travel to the Ottoman era)
(A small door leading to the palace interior) 
(Shaded corridors with fountains)
(Mosaics doors leading to the many chambers)
(A resting place of the Emir)
(One of the many mosaic decorated chambers)
(The main courtyard with a water fountain)
(Capturing one of the many historical paintings on the wall)

The Rhumel gorge was our next destination. Constantine is a natural fortress occupying a rocky diamond-shaped plateau that is surrounded by a precipitous gorge through the eastern side of which flows the Rhumel River. The plateau is 650 metres above sea level and from 150 to 300 metres above the riverbed in the gorge. The cliffs of the gorge, at its narrowest, are 4.5 metres apart and at its greatest width are about 365 metres. The Rhumel Gorge is one of the most beautiful gorges in the world. The gorge here is a network of bridges, tunnels, waterfalls and breath-taking views of the surrounding area.

(A strategic viewpoint of the gorges)
(Absorbing the breathtaking view of the gorge)
(Roads carved along the terrain of the rocky mountain)
(The close-up view of the victory memorial from afar)

No other city on the African continent is more associated with high bridges than Constantine. Four classic bridges cross the deepest section of the gorge including the El Kantara, Sidi Rached, Sidi M’Cid and Mellah Slimane. Of the many high bridges that cross the Rhumel River gorge, the highest and most spectacular of all is the Sidi M’Cid suspension bridge. This bridge was the highest bridge in the world for 17 years before Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge opened in 1929.

(Roads and bridges criss-crossing the gorge)
(A road tunnel built into the rocky mountain) 
(A bridge crossing the Rhumel River) 
(Road and river tunnels running side by side) 
(Roads going through the natural tunnels in the mountain)
(Beware of the steep drop from the cliff into the gorge)

We walked across Sidi M’cid suspension bridge to have a better view of the gorge. From there, instead of climbing the 36 stone steps, we drove uphill to the Monument Aaux Morts de Constantine. The memorial arch is built on a cliff along the right bank of the Rhumel River, facing the old rock of the city overlooking the Sidi M'Cid Bridge. The Memorial Arch is 21 meters high inspired by that of Trajan Arch at Timgad.

(The Sidi M'cid Bridge in the background)
(Walking across the Sidi M'cid Bridge)
(Reaching the other side of the bridge)
(Sidi M'cid Bridge, one of the four classic bridges)
(The cliff at the viewpoint)
(Another bridge at the far end of the gorge)
(Ibni Badis Hospital of Constantine)

At the top of the arch is a reproduction of a Roman statue called ‘The Victory of Constantine’ discovered during excavations in the Casbah of the city and in the Musée Cirta of Coudiat. There is a semi-circular terrace with panoramic views of the valley of Rhumel.

From the hill top, we were supposed to ride the cable car but it was out of order. What a disappointment!

(Steep 36 stone-steps climb to the top)
(The Monument Aaux Morts de Constantine)
( Inspired  from the Trajan Arch at Timgad)
(A world globe with directions of major cities)
(Armed policemen guarding us, soaked to the skin)

It was raining heavily when we drove to the famous seafood restaurant in Constantine, the Les Platanes Restaurant where we had fish and rice for lunch. The newly elected Town Mayor and his entourage were having lunch there at the same time. After lunch we performed our prayers in Emir Abdelkader Mosque.

(A famous seafood restaurant in town)
(Two scoops of spicy aromatic rice and a fish fillet)

The Emir Abdelkader Mosque is Constantine’s most prominent monument with its 107 m high twin minarets. The mosque is capable of accommodating 10,000 jemaah in its prayer hall. It is one of the world’s largest mosques, housing Algeria’s first modern Islamic university.

(A mosque and an Islamic University)
(The spacious main prayer hall of the mosque)

It was raining very heavily when we drove back to the hotel to have a good rest. It was still raining dogs and cats when some of us went for a stroll along the shopping streets and the wet market next to our hotel.

(School children walking in the rain)
(The sunset viewed from our bedroom)
(Buffet dinner, one of the best during this trip)

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