Oran, Algeria

Oran has many visible cultural influences, stemming from its checkered colonial past. The city has thrived through early Islamic dynasties, Spanish occupation, Ottoman dominance and French colonization. The 15th century Santa Cruz fortress overlooks the city and harbor from Mount Murdjado. On the 1st of November Square is the City Hall, with its twin lion statues (the city’s name is from the Berber word for lion). In the Turkish El Houari district, see the Hassan Pasha Mosque and the nearby Palace of El Bey, a Moorish masterpiece from 1796. The “new city” of El Djedida, the large market is a good place to seek souvenirs including Berber jewelry and other crafts. Oran is also the birthplace of the popular folk music style rai.