High on a hill ..

In Oran, Algeria, at least there wasn’t stood a lonely goatherd. There was though, a beautiful old church. Its always a slight surprise to see churches in Islamic countries, but the French colonial past of Algeria makes it easier to understand.

DSC_0007

Perched high up on the western side of the city, Santa Cruz chapel has fantastic views over the city and across the top secret Algerian naval base (I wont say anything if you don’t). It’s linked with one of the three forts in Oran, all built by the Ottomans. The chapel was a later addition, built around 1850 on the site where the former Bishop of Oran had led a pilgrimage to the high ground to escape a cholera epidemic in the city.

Picture 086

The drive up is worth the time on its own. Narrow hairpin bends, overhanging trees, a small shanty town reputed for its lack of warmth to visitors, with views getting better and better the higher you climb.

Picture 006

I went to visit the grounds with a devout Christian, two Buddhists, a Hindu and an atheist (me). The church itself is locked, I think I understood (my Arabic is nowhere near as good as it should be) its only open twice a year, Easter and Ascension, but the transfer of a couple of folded monetary notes meant the door was flung open and we went inside.

Picture 065

The soldiers guarding the place had no real idea of the history of the place, to be honest they were only really interested in trying to get a little bit more cash out of us, but they were at least friendly.

The lack of congregation, services and funds is visible on entering the church, the peeling paintwork and generally tired air affirm that this is a Catholic church in an Islamic country, but outside, high above the city, the everyday babble is unheard, only the noise of the sea and the birds break the medidative silence.

Picture 069

Our Christian stayed longer than us, doing whatever Christians do in churches, but I went outside to have a walk around the well decorated, if somewhat faded, walls and facades.

IMAG0093

I will finish this by saying that I dont like Algeria. I’ve probably spent a total of four years of my life there out of the last dozen and I really dont like it. That said, Oran is by far the nicest city in the country, the corniche is great, the old, decaying French architecture is spectacular and should you ever find yourself in the city, Santa Cruz should definitely be on your to do list.

 

Advertisements

About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to High on a hill ..

  1. I really enjoy your travel pieces; they really give a sense of being there. One minor point, if I may. Hindi is a language (as well as being the term used in Arabic to describe folk from the sub-continent). A Hindu is a follower of the Hindu religion. Sorry to be pedantic, but I know you’d prefer to be accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s