Bey’s Palace

Palace in Oran

Much of the area around the headland overlooking the port is a military zone, but don’t let that stop you visiting the Chateau Neuf (New Castle), which is in fact the 14th-century fort of Merinid Sultan Abou Hassan. While some of the complex is closed, the Bey’s Palace is open. The location, above the town, port and sea, and the gateway are impressive, but there is little majesty left in the building.

The massive walls were first built in the 1340s by Merinid Sultan Abou Hassan and reinforced by the Spaniards in 1509, by the Ottomans in the 1700s and the French in the 19th century. The bey, Mohamed el-Kebir, moved his residence into the fort after the Spaniards vacated it in 1792. The main public room, the diwan, has a fireplace where the sultan’s throne once stood beneath a painted ceiling. In the inner courtyard, to the left, is the room of the favourite concubine, with elaborate stucco walls and painted ceilings.

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