One of the largest cities in Algeria’s north-west, Tlemcen is a former capital renowned for its Moorish buildings. It reflects Amazigh, Arab and Ottoman influences, earning it the nickname the “African Granada”. Tlemcen is an important leather, carpet and textile manufacturing hub, with its products exported around the globe.
Things to do in Tlemcen
Topped by a 29-metre-high minaret is the Grand Mosque, which was constructed in the 11th century by the Almoravid emir, Yusuf ibn Tashfin. It features 12 rows of horseshoe arches in its prayer hall and an unusually ornate mihrab, which indicates the direction of prayer. Adjacent to the mosque is the bustling Place de l'Emir Abdelkader, which is ideal for people-watching.
A short stroll away is the Museum of Art and History, which occupies a school built by order of Sultan Al-Zayani Abu Tashfin. It explores the various civilisations that have inhabited Algeria, with Zayani artefacts and ancient tombstones on display. A highlight of the museum is its miniature stone models depicting some of the country’s most iconic landmarks.
On the eastern outskirts of Tlemcen is the Mausoleum of Sidi Boumediene, a 12th-century Sufi teacher who died in Tlemcen en route to Marrakech. While simple in its design, it offers magnificent views across the plains and lies adjacent to an Almoravid-style mosque. Dating back to 1328, the mosque features decorative tiles and carved stucco, as well as huge, bronze-clad doors.
Getting around Tlemcen
Messali El Hadj Airport is a 30-minute drive from the centre of Tlemcen and has flights to destinations across Algeria and France. Regular trains connect to the Tlemcen railway station and buses travel throughout the city, connecting most of its attractions. The centre of Tlemcen can easily be explored on foot.