In this epic 3-part series, we visit the idyllic villages and towns of the Mediterranean coast, we experience the magic of the Sahara desert, uncover the raw beauty of the Aures mountains and we celebrate the vibrant city life in Algiers, Constantine, Tlemcen and Oran. The films also give glimpses into the innumerable treasures of antiquity that are found in the Berber kingdom of Batna and the Roman towns of Tipaza and Timgad.
Hidden Algeria seeks to impress upon the television viewer how Algeria has blossomed, since its independence in 1962, into a must-see travel destination that is ripe with ancient culture, classical history and genial hospitality.
Episode 1: Algiers
This first episode explores the capital of Algiers. Its architecture – both French and Neo Mauresque, as epitomised by the glorious Grande Poste post office building, its outstanding mosques and occasional churches too.
Local Algerois Djihad Mahamdi tours the Tuareg-inspired Cathedral of Sacre Coeur while fellow guide, Nehad Benz explores the Ottoman-refined Casbah which is awash with pretty fountains and sumptuous palaces. A day trip to Tipasa gives us glimpses of a wealthy Roman life in North Africa while back in the Casbah, historian Boualem Benamirouche retraces the steps of the infamous Battle of Algiers, which turned the tide of war of independence. Tales of the great Algerian writer Albert Camus are regaled at the Tantonville café and we listen to the sounds of Chaabi music from renowned singer Noureddine Alane. The programme ends with a celebratory supper at a traditional Algerian restaurant.
Episode 2: The Historic Hinterland
This second episode shows off the coastal and hinterland cities that were built by a prosperous Mediterranean trade; one that dates back to Phoenician sailors. The cities of Oran, Tlemcen and Constantine are explored for their history and sites.
In Oran, resident Zaki Souffi goes shopping in the jedida market. He visits the home of the city’s most eminent émigré, Yves Saint Laurent and has a local snack of karantika. He tours the old Bey palace before climbing the Mountain of Lions for a nose around Fort Santa Cruz – impregnable Spanish fortress during its war with the Ottoman Empire. In Tlemcen, we gaze upon the wonders of the Mechouar Palace while historian Amina Miri Hana tours the fortress city of El Mansourah. Climbing over the Aures mountains, we behold the sprawling Roman settlement of Timgad in Batna before arriving at Constantine, ancient Numidian city perched on a rocky outcrop that overlooks the Rhumel Gorge. We learn how to cook a black couscous speciality called M’ziyet and drop in on the small but impressive Cirta museum.
Episode 3: The Sahara
The third chapter of this Algerian odyssey is a travelogue that covers over 1200 miles – from the ‘Door of the Sahara’ in the ancient berber settlement of Ghouffi to Assekrem, which literally means ‘the end of the world’, situated in the southernmost point of Algeria’s Sahara. The great desert is an arid but varied landscape where cultures, both religious and nomadic, have adaped to the unforgiving climate over thousands of years.
We tour the berber castles of Timimoun and the circular Mozabite cities of the Mzab valley. We learn about Islam’s ancient sect, the Ibadi who have sought eternal refuge in the desert. We visit the Touaregs of Tamanrasset and hear the sweet music of the Imzad instrument, rounding off our great travels with the incredible story of Charles de Foucauld, a foreign legion officer who found God in the volcanic mountains of the Ahoggar.