Algiers (Al-Jazaïr) never fails to make an impression. This is a city of rare beauty and of thrilling, disorientating, and sometimes brutal, contrast. The country's turbulent history is writ large in the city's richly textured architecture: wide French-built boulevards and elegant apartments and villas, Socialist-era monuments and public buildings, and an enduring Islamic heart secreted in the steep, hillside Casbah. Labyrinthine streets spill down to the yawning big blue of the Bay of Algiers, sea and sky and green ravines glimpsed at every step. Though people often spend just enough time in Algiers to organise an onward journey, it’s a fascinating place well worth at least a couple of days’ exploration.