Djama’a al-Kebir (Great Mosque)
Hegira 539 / AD 1145
The Great Mosque of Negroma, like the other Almoravid mosques of the Maghreb, with their balatat (naves) perpendicular to the qibla wall and their rectangular sahn (courtyard) bordered by galleries along the shorter sides, is an archetypal example of religious architecture in the Maghreb.
The prayer hall is divided into nine balatat set out symmetrically on either side of the balata al-wasta (central nave). The three balatat towards the end of the hall extend further along each of the shorter sides of the sahn, forming large riwaq (galleries). The longest side of the sahn is parallel to the qibla wall and is enclosed by a gallery.
Viewed from above, the rectangular building is composed of a series of tiled, double sloping rooftops that are parallel to one another. The central roof, which is slightly larger than the rest, is broken up by a domed or cloister vault that rises above the mihrab.
The horseshoe arches of the balatat rest on pillars; but here, one does not encounter the poly-lobed arches that are present in the other two mosques of the same period. The mihrab is without any kind of decoration.
The mosque did not originally possess a minaret, as we know, thanks to an inscription engraved onto marble and built into the prayer hall, that the minaret was only constructed in AH 749 / AD 1348.
The Great Mosque of Nedroma is a typical example of Muslim architecture in North Africa, with naves running parallel to the qibla wall and a gallery-lined courtyard. The rectangular building has ridged roofs with parallel tiles. The prayer room has nine naves separated by pillars linking semi-circular horseshoe arches. The mihrab is a simple affair. The minaret was built two centuries later, as stated on the inscription engraved on a marble plaque.
The mosque through an inscription on the back of the minbar; for the minaret, another inscription on marble.
Bourouiba, R., Apports de l'Algérie à l'architecture arabo-islamique, Algiers, 1986.
Bourouiba, R., L'art religieux musulman en Algérie, Algiers, 1973.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954.
Ali Lafer "Djama’a al-Kebir (Great Mosque)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;dz;Mon01;28;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 37