IntroductionOran (pop. 700,000) is built upon the prehistoric site of Ifri (which means "Caves"). The present city was founded in AD 903. Beginning in 1509, it became an important Islamic center. The surrounding coastal area is beautiful—marred only by the occasional oil refinery. In Oran, visit the 18th-century Pasha of Sidi El Houari Mosque, the impressive Casbah (Arab and Spanish markets), the Demaeght Museum (modern and prehistoric displays—allow at least two hours) and the 18th-century Spanish fort, Lamorrue. Catch the sky gondola up to the 16th-century Spanish Santa Cruz Fort—on the way up, you can discreetly peer into people's homes; at the top, you'll have a wonderful view of the whole city. Oran is also the birthplace of rai, an Arabic version of techno-pop. There are a couple of sights nearby that can be seen as day trips: The town of Mascara or the Sebkha salt flats are possible destinations (the real treat is the scenery en route). Excluding excursions, plan a night in Oran. 200 mi/420 km southwest of Algiers.
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