Dar ‘Aziza Bint al-Bay
Hegira 10th century / AD 16th century
'This palace is perhaps far older than we think as it can be found on the oldest riding maps from the 16th century, situated behind the ancient Dar al-Sultan, which served at that period as a residence of the kings of Algiers, long before the Turkish occupation …' (Lucien Golven – see Bibliography). Dar al-Sultan, which became the Djenina under the Turks, was demolished at the start of the French occupation (1830). As for the palace's namesake, 'Aziza, she is thought to have been, according to oral tradition, the daughter of a dey who offered this palace to her.
The plans drawn by Ravoisié in 1831 demonstrate that the building consisted of two parts: the part that still exists today, which formed the main body of the palace; and the adjoining smaller part, which formed the douira (small house, annex). The douira was demolished between 1831 and 1838, resulting in modifications to the main building, notably its entrance. The zigzag sqifa (entrance) led into a hall of 7.6 m x 3.75 m, whose sides were bordered by benches (dukkana) adorned with columns that were interconnected by arches. This entrance squeezed itself in between the two buildings. The palace stood on two levels surrounding a courtyard (wast ad-dar: centre of the house), which was enclosed by galleries composed of cable-moulded white marble columns onto which various rooms opened out, including the hammam, the store-rooms and the corner-fountain. Many of the architectural features still remain: marble frames of the lattice windows, the marble exterior doorframes, faïence wall cladding, the fountain, etc.
This palace consisted of two buildings of which only the palace remains, with the destruction of the annex in the early years of colonisation having prompted modifications to be made to the main building. The entrance that once stood between the two buildings leads to a long hall lined with benches placed between columns supporting arches. The palace is build on two levels around a courtyard surrounded by galleries of white marble twisted columns leading to various rooms.
Through cross-referencing historical documents and stylistic analysis.
Cresti, F., Contributions à l'histoire d'Alger, Rome, 1993.
Golvin, L., Palais et demeures d'Alger à l'époque ottomane, Aix-en-Provence, 1988.
Missoum, S., Alger à l'époque ottomane, Aix-en-Provence; Algiers, 2003.
Ali Lafer "Dar ‘Aziza Bint al-Bay" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;dz;Mon01;10;en
Prepared by: Ali LaferAli Lafer
Architecte diplômé de l'École nationale d'architecture et des beaux-arts d'Alger, stagiaire du Centre international pour la conservation et la restauration des biens culturels (ICCROM) à Rome, Ali Lafer a été architecte en chef des Monuments au ministère de la Culture pendant son service civil. Directeur de l'Atelier Casbah chargé des études d'aménagement de la médina d'Alger, il a également enseigné au cours de Tunis pour la formation d'architectes du patrimoine maghrébin. Membre fondateur de l'association “Les amis du Tassili”, il est aussi chercheur dans les domaines de la numérisation de la documentation graphique et du relevé photogrammétrique.
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: AL 11