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View of Oran's port
Mobilar towers
Hotel de Ville of Oran
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Sheraton Hostel
Church of Santa-Cruz
Abdelhamid Ben Badis Mosque
From top, left to right: general view of Oran's port, Mobilar towers, Oran city hall, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sheraton Hotel, Santa-Cruz chapel and Abdelhamid Ben Badis Mosque
Official seal of Oran
al-Bāhia الباهية
Location of Oran
Oran is located in Algeria
Location within Algeria
Oran is located in Africa
Oran (Africa)
Coordinates: 35°41′49″N 0°37′59″W / 35.69694°N 0.63306°W / 35.69694; -0.63306
Country Algeria
ProvinceOran Province
DistrictOran District
Re-foundedAD 944
 • Wali (Governor)Massoud Djari
 • City2,121 km2 (819 sq mi)
0.9 m (3 ft)
 (2008 for city proper, 2019 for metro area)[1]
 • City803,329 Increase
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
Postal codes
31000 - 31037

Oran (Arabic: وَهران, romanizedWahrān)[a] is a major coastal city located in the northwest of Algeria. It is considered the second most important city of Algeria, after the capital, Algiers, because of its population and commercial, industrial and cultural importance. It is 432 km (268 mi) west-southwest from Algiers. The total population of the city was 803,329 in 2008,[6] while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000,[7] making it the second-largest city in Algeria.[8]


A Barbary lion, from which Oran takes its name; is identified by its long mane.

The word Wahran comes from the Berber expression wa - iharan (place of lions).[9] A locally popular legend tells that in the period around AD 900, there were sightings of Barbary lions in the area. The last two lions were killed on a mountain near Oran, and it became known as la montagne des lions ("The Mountain of Lions").[10] Two giant lion statues stand in front of Oran's city hall, symbolizing the city.



During the Roman Empire, a small settlement called Unica Colonia existed in the area of the current Oran, but this settlement disappeared as the Maghreb was conquered by a succession of regional powers, beginning with the Vandals in 435,[11] followed by the Berbers of the Mauro-Roman Kingdom,[12] and finally the Arabs around the start of the 8th century.[13]

Present-day Oran was founded in 903 by the azdaja and ajissa berbers of the Maghrawa confederation who lived in the area and eventually founded the modern city of Oran.[14] The city enjoyed a period of prosperity under the Almohad Caliph Abd al-Mu'min for a lengthy period of time when he built thirty vessels to connect it with Andalusia.[14] It endured a long, prosperous reign under the zayyanid of Tlemcen and used its ports as a key outlet to Spain in particular.[15] It was captured by the Castilians under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509, and Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708 when the city was conquered by the Algerians during the siege of Siege of Oran (1707–1708). Spain recaptured the city in 1732. However, its value as a trading post had decreased greatly, so during the reign of King Charles IV the city was recaptured in 1790-1792 by a coalition of Algerian troops against Spain which resulted in victory for the bey of Oran despite the many attempts in 1563. The beylik lasted until 1831 when the city fell to the French.

Under French rule during the 19th and 20th centuries, Oran was the capital of a département of the same name (number 92). In July 1940, the British navy shelled French warships in the port after they refused a British ultimatum to surrender; this action was taken to ensure the fleet would not fall into German hands, as the Nazis had defeated France and occupied Paris. The action increased the hatred of the Vichy regime for Britain but convinced the world that the British would fight alone against Nazi Germany and its allies. The Vichy government held Oran during World War II until its capture by the Allies in late 1942, during Operation Torch.

Also, during French rule, Jews were encouraged to modernize and take on jobs they had not before, including agriculture, while Muslims were forced out of the city and their ancestral fertile lands were confiscated and given to Colons.[16] Jews in the city were allowed to join the French Army starting October 24, 1870, while Muslims were forced to do military service. Algerian Jews were granted citizenship while Algerian Muslims were not. Jews would soon be targeted after the war for not supporting the struggle for independence against France.[17]

Before the Algerian War of 1954–1962, Oran had one of the highest proportions of Europeans of any city in North Africa. In July 1962, after a ceasefire and accords with France, the FLN entered Oran and were shot at by Europeans. A mob attacked pied-noir neighborhoods in response to the incident and during the subsequent Oran massacre of 1962 at least 95 and as many as 365 were killed;[18] many others are reported to have "disappeared."[19] This triggered a larger exodus of Europeans to France, which was already underway. Shortly after the end of the war, most of the Europeans and Algerian Jews living in Oran fled to France. In less than three months, Oran lost about half its population.[17]

Religious history

The Great Synagogue of Oran was converted into a mosque in 1975.

With its location as the closest port to Spain and its prominence on the Mediterranean, Jewish refugees first immigrated to Oran to flee persecution and conversion to Christianity in Spain in 1391. This refuge brought other religious refugees that included both Jews again and Muslims in both 1492 and 1502. On October 24, 1870, with French dominance, Algerian Jews were given French citizenship with the Crémieux Decree. Later, despite a World War II sentiment that favored acceptance, Oran still had a history marked by intolerance. There was a decrease in the Jewish population as Muslims were the only group granted citizenship protection in 1963, one year after Algerian independence.[20]

Islamic dynasties (910–1509)

Start year End year Event
910 1082 By 910 Oran became a perpetual object of conflict between the Umayyads of al-Andalus and the Fatimids of Kairouan.
1082 1145 Presence of Almoravids in 1082. In 1145, Tashfin ibn Ali perished in the outskirts of Oran while trying to flee the besieging Almohad troops, who had already captured Tlemcen.
1145 1238 Presence of Almohads. 1147 marked the beginning of a period of persecution of Oran's Jews.
1238 1509 Presence of the Zianides of Tlemcen and then the Marinid dynasty of Fes. The Oranians grew rich from protection by the Emir, the customs system (tariffs), trade with Marseilles, and the Italian Maritime Republics of Genoa and Venice, with whom, in 1250, Oran signed a commercial treaty for 40 years. Toward the end of the 14th century, celebrated Arab historian Ibn Khaldoun wrote, "Oran is superior to all other cities by its trade. It's a paradise for the unhappy one. Those who arrive poor in its walls, will leave it again rich." The city excelled in the export of lead, wool, skins, fine burnous, carpets, haïks, cumin, nuts, and galls, as well as black African slaves.

Spanish period (1509–1708, 1732–1792)

The Santa Cruz Fort, Oran. Santa Cruz is Spanish for "holy cross".

Before the Spaniards, the Portuguese launched a failed expedition to capture the city in July 1501. Four years later, the Spanish took Mers-el-Kébir, located just six kilometres (four miles) west of Oran. Thus began the first organized incursions against the city which, at the time, numbered 25,000 inhabitants and counted 6,000 fueros. Count Pedro Navarro, on the orders of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, finally captured the city on May 17, 1509. The occupying forces set fire to the books and archives of the town.[21]

By 1554, the Turks had reached Algiers. The governor of Oran, Count Alcaudete, allied himself with Moroccan Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh against them. Nine years later, in 1563, Álvaro de Bazán, Marquis de Santa Cruz, built the fort of Santa-Cruz, strategically placed at the top of a mountain, l'Aïdour, more than 300 m (1,000 ft) above the sea, directly to the west of the city. Pedro Garcerán de Borja, Grand Master of the Order of Montesa, was captain of Oran when, on July 14, 1568, John of Austria (the illegitimate son of Charles I and paternal half-brother of King Philip II), led a flotilla of 33 galleys against the Algerians.

A two-part map showing the port of Oran in the 18th century, by German map publisher Matthäus Seutter

In April 1669 the Spanish governor, the 6th Marquess of Los Vélez, expelled all the Jews who lived in Oran and Mers El Kébir[22] sending them to be resettled in either Nice, or Livorno.

The Spanish rebuilt Santa Cruz Fort to accommodate their city governors. "The fortifications of the place were composed of thick and continuous walls of over two and a half km in circumference, surmounted by strong towers spaced between them," with a central castle or kasbah where the Spanish governor had his headquarters.[citation needed] Under Spanish rule, the city continued to grow, requiring enlargement of the city walls. In spite of the improved fortifications, the city was the object of repeated attacks. Notable in this regard, Moroccan Sharif Moulay Ismail tried to force his way past the defences in 1707, only to see his army decimated. In 1739, trade with the surroundings was forbidden for years due to the plague. In 1744, king Philip V asked the governor Tomás du Rollet de la tour for dromedaries to replenish the stock at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. However, the former bey of Oran had banned trade with the Spaniards and those dromedaries gradually sent to the king had been sold by thieving tribesmen. Most of the maintenance of the place was paid by the bull of the Crusade, a contribution of the Spanish Catholic church.[23]

Beylikal period (1708–1732, 1792–1831)

Main article: Beylik of Oran

The Bey Othmane El Kebir Mosque (Minaret de la perle)

The Spanish occupied the city until 1708, when the Bey of Mascara, Mustapha Ben Youssef (Bouchelaghem), vassal of the Deylik of Algiers, and who was an Arabized Berber from the Mascara region[24] took advantage of the War of Spanish Succession to drive the Spanish out.[25][26]

In 1732, Spanish forces returned under José Carrillo de Albornoz, capturing the city from Bouchelaghem. Spain maintained its hold over Oran for the next six decades.[27]

In the night after October 8, 1790, a violent earthquake claimed more than 3,000 victims in less than seven minutes. Charles IV saw no advantage in continuing the occupation of the city, which had become increasingly expensive and perilous. He initiated discussions with the Dey of Algiers.

Siege of Oran and Mers el-Kébir (1790–1792)

After another earthquake damaged the Spanish defences, the forces of the new Bey of Oran, Mohammed el Kebir besieged the city. By the end of 1790, there was a clear Algerian advantage.[28] The Spanish, not wanting to risk their troops, signed an agreement with the Algerians on 12 September in Algiers, and on 12 December in Madrid, which recognized Algerian control over the city.[25] By February all Spanish troops evacuated. The capital was moved there the same year. In 1792, the Bey settled a Jewish community there. In 1796, the Pasha Mosque (in honour of Hassan Pasha, Beylerbey of Algiers) was built by the Bey with ransom money paid for the release of Spanish prisoners after Spain's final departure.

French period (1831–1962)

Oran from steps of City Hall, 1894
Oran's city hall, dating from the French period

The town of 10,000 inhabitants was still in the possession of the Ottoman Empire when a squadron under the command of captain Bourmand seized el-Kébir on December 14, 1830. The city was in a wretched state. On January 4, 1831, the French commanded by General Damrémont occupied Oran. In September 1831, General Berthezène appointed Mr. Pujol as mayor of Oran; he had been captain of cavalry in retirement and was wounded in the right hand under the Empire.[citation needed]

In 1832, leading a force of five thousand men, the young Emir Abd al-Qadir attacked Oran. In April 1833, commander-in-chief, General Boyer, was replaced by the baron Louis Alexis Desmichels. The city's defenders, under attack by Abd al Qadir, held their ground.[citation needed] Many Europeans settled in Oran during the French period, and by the early 20th century they formed a majority of the city's population.[29][30][31]

In World War II, Oran was one of the landing points in Operation Torch, the first American action in the Europe-North Africa theatre in November 1942. The Task Force suffered some damage to its fleet, trying to land in shallow water, but the enemy ships were sunk or driven off, and Oran surrendered after heavy fire from British battleships.[32]

Since independence (1962)

Due to the exodus of Pieds-Noirs, the Cathédrale du Sacré-Cœur d'Oran was converted into a public library, Aubert Library of Oran, in 1984.[33]

Today, Oran is a major port and a commercial centre, and has three universities. The old quarter of Oran has a casbah and an 18th-century mosque. The modern section of Oran is referred to as La Ville Nouvelle and was built after 1831; this section contrasts with the older section, La Blanca.[34]



Climate in Oran

Oran features a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk/BSh). Oran's climate does show influences of a Mediterranean climate; however, the combination of the city's relatively high average annual temperature and relatively low annual precipitation precludes it from falling under that climate category. Oran averages 326 mm (13 in) of precipitation annually, the bulk of which falls between November and May. Summers are the warmest times of the year, with average high temperatures in the warmest month (August) approaching 32 degrees Celsius. Winters are the coolest times of the year in Oran, with high temperatures in the coolest month (January) at around 17 degrees Celsius.

Climate data for Oran
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.4
Average high °C (°F) 16.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.9
Average low °C (°F) 5.1
Record low °C (°F) −3.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 8.7 8.5 7.1 7.2 6.9 2.0 1.3 1.8 3.6 6.6 8.4 8.8 70.9
Average relative humidity (%) 79.5 76.5 74.0 70.0 68.0 66.2 64.7 66.5 70.2 73.9 76.3 78.6 72.0
Source 1: World Meteorological Organization (UN)[35]
Source 2: (extremes, humidity)[36]


Further information: List of earthquakes in Algeria

As Oran is located in Northern Algeria, it faces the threat of earthquakes that can cause damage. However, the last major earthquake was in 1790; 3,000 people died as a result. Many of the existing older buildings in the city have been reinforced, and newer construction is designed to withstand earthquakes. While the city dates back to the 900s, the oldest remaining buildings are from the French period in the 1800s making it easier to reinforce these buildings.[37]


Further information: List of mayors of Oran

City districts

Further information: Quarters of Oran

List of districts of Oran

Neighborhoods and districts of Oran, old map

Since 2019, Oran have 18 communal délégations (ex. districts) et les 83 quarters.[38]

Arabic name and names of the districts of Oran (old division)
District Arabic name Name
1    الحمري El Hamri
2    حي الإمام الهواري Hai Imam El-Houari
3    السعادة Es-Saada
4    المقري Al-Maqarri
5    الحمري El-Hamri
6    البدر El-Badr
7    الصديقية Es-Seddikia
8    المنزه El-Menzeh
9    الأمير El-Emir
10    العثمانية El-Othmania
11    بوعمامة Bouamama
12    محي الدين Muhieddine

Medina Jedida

Medina Jedida [fr] or, new city in English, is a large historical and popular district. It was one of the Muslim quarters during the French colonial period. In this district, there is one of the biggest markets in the country, called Le Marché de Medina Jedida (Medina Jedida Market).

El Hamri

Mosque of Hassan Basha

El Hamri is a large and popular district in the center of Oran, known under French rule as Lamur. The football club Mouloudia d'Oran is found there.

Neighborhood streets

Sidi El Houari

The historical district Sidi El Houari [es] is a suburb in the north of the d'Oran city. The Saint-Louis college is there, as well as the old mosque of the Pasha dating from the 17th century. In this district the skin of Saint-Patron of the city in the name of "Sidi El Houari" rests. Other tourist curiosities: one ancient prefecture of the data base Stalingrad, the Spanish vestiges dating from the 16th century, and especially the Palate of the Bey d'Oran.

Oranian agglomeration

Fort Mers el-Kebir
Madagh Beach (West of Oran)
The Great Library (ex. Cathédrale Sacré-Cœur d'Oran)

The Oranian metropolis comprises several communes.

Mers El-Kébir

Mers El Kébir ("The Great Port") is a municipality northwest of Oran, about seven kilometres (4+12 mi) from the city centre. As its name indicates, it is a major port and has an important naval base, home to the Algerian Navy.

Aïn El-Turk

Aïn El Turk ("Fountain of the Turks") is also northwest of Oran, at a distance of 15 km (9 mi). It is a seaside town which includes several hotels and other tourist attractions.


Es Sénia, located in the south of Oran, is home to industrial parks, several university institutes (Oran-Es-Sénia University, Institut of Communication, ENPO "National Polytechnic School of Oran", CRASC "Research center in social sciences" etc.) and the international airport.

Bir El-Djir

Bir El Djir is a commune that represents the suburbs of Oran (apart from the districts). It is the future beating heart of the Oranian agglomeration. It has several buildings which are the seats of institutions as the headquarters of Sonatrach's downstream activity, the hospital Établissement Hospitalo-universitaire "November 1st, 1954", the convention center (Palais des Congrès), University of sciences and technology (conceived by the Japanese architect Kenzō Tange), the Institute of medical sciences, the Court of Justice and the National Centre of Research in Social and Cultural Anthropology. There is as well a sports complex with an Olympic stadium of 50000 places created for the 2022 Mediterranean Games.

Bir El Djir is an urban extension east of Oran, 8 km (5 mi) from the city center, with a population of 118,000 inhabitants.


Misserghin is a small city located to the southwest of Oran.

Mediterranean side – Oran
Panorama of sea front at Oran, Algeria


See also: Port of Wahran

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2016)
Railway station in Oran

The city's public transportation is centered on the Oran Metro covering coastal neighborhoods with the connecting Oran tramway covering suburbs not yet served by the metro. There is an extensive network of "clandestine" taxis in the City. A project started in 2008/9 and lasted approximately two to three years, to deliver the first line of the tramway in 2010. It should comprise 31 stations over a distance of 17.7 km (11 mi) going to Es-Sénia, in the South and Sidi Maarouf in the east side, while passing by the centre town The tramway should serve Haï Sabbah, University of Sciences and Technology (USTO), the Crossroads of the Three Private clinics, the Law courts, Dar El Baïda, the Plate-Saint Michel, the Place of the 1st November, Saint-Anthony, Boulanger, Saint-Hubert, the 3rd Ring road and finally The University of Es-Sénia. The Ahmed Ben Bella Airport, also known as Es-Senia Airport, serves both domestic and international flights, with frequent connections to the capital Algiers, served by the public airline company Air Algerie. The same company also has flights to many French cities (Marseille, Paris, Lyon, etc.) and other European and EMEA cities. The Es Senia Airport also serves passengers from most smaller towns in proximity to Oran (Sig, Mostaganem, Arzew, etc.). The airport building is a fairly limited construction and does not operate on a 24-h basis.


Oran is represented in association football by MC Oran.

Oran held its first international marathon on November 10, 2005. The event, sponsored by Toyota of Algeria, attracted runners from Morocco, Libya, Spain, France and Kenya. The marathon served to publicize the health benefits of running and to provide a novel form of public entertainment for the city's residents.

The Championnat d'Afrique d'Athlétisme was scheduled to be held in Oran in June 2021.

The XIX Mediterranean Games was held in Oran in 2022.


"Disco Maghreb" in Oran, 2017

The folk music Raï ("opinion" in Arabic), had its beginnings in Oran. This genre of music was formulated by shepherds in the 1930s through Arab and European influences. This music was surrounded by controversy due to women's key role in public performances of the music, as well as the hedonistic lyrics about love and alcohol. This led to strict governmental control in the area which led to arrests, injuries, and assassinations.[39] Many notable Raï musicians (including Cheb Hasni, Cheb Khaled, and Rachid Taha) hail from Oran. The violinist Akim el Sikameya was also born in Oran. One of Oran's most famous emigrants is Yves Saint Laurent.[40]


The traditional Algerian lemon sorbet creponne originated in Oran.

Representation in other media

Place 1er novembre (ex.Place d'Armes)
Chapelle Santa Cruz

Economy and infrastructure

Oran has become a major trading centre for the wider area, serving Arzew, the area's oil/gas port as well as Sonatrach, the country's biggest oil and gas company. Sonelgaz has built a new congress centre in Oran and in 2010 the 16th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas was held in the city of Oran, which attracted around 3,000 visitors and major companies from around the world.

To accommodate all visitors, new hotels are currently being constructed and floating hotels will be used in the future. With a growth in urbanization, water quality and management is being harmed in Oran; this change in water quality is affecting marine life and the state of beaches in this tourism driven city.[42]

The city and region participates in the R20 Regions of Climate Action, with goals focused on reduced waste valorization and energy efficiency.[43]


Oran has numerous hotels in all categories, from luxury to basic, as well as many restaurants offering Algerian specialities and other foods. Tourists will also find a variety of cinemas, arts centres, the regional theatre, an open-air theatre, the Museum, the historic city centre of Oran, the district of Sidi El Houari, the municipal gardens, Médina Djedida with its artisanal products, the cathedral, Djebel Murdjadjo, and nearby seaside resorts. Ahmed Ben Bella Airport is 11.9 km (7+38 mi) from the town centre. One can also reach Oran by ferries from the ports of Marseilles, Sète, Alicante and Almería, via the national company Algérie Ferries. The Great Mosque is another attraction for tourists. The Great Mosque was built in 1796 to celebrate the end of Spanish rule of the city.[44]


The main museum in Oran is called Musée National Ahmend Zabana. Although often overlooked by tourists, it includes a natural history exhibit in addition to art pieces like mosaics and portraits.[40]

Bey's Palace is another favorite spot for tourists, situated in Sidi al-Houari in the city center. It is an Ottoman era palace built of Islamic architecture, consists of harem, guard towers and stucco-painted halls.[45]


Further information: Water supply and sanitation in Algeria

Water supply in Oran has historically been stressed because of the lack of consistent rainfall.[46] The regional government invested in hydraulic projects in the 2010s to increase retention of water, and installing a desalination plant increased water security.[46] Oran's region uses a mix of groundwater (11%), surface water (51%) and desalinization (38%).[47] The wilaya of Oran is also equipped with five desalination plants, including the unit of Macta, with a maximum daily capacity of 500,000 m³.[48][49]

International relations

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Algeria

Twin towns – sister cities

Oran is twinned with 21 cities:[50]

Partner cities

In addition, Oran has partnerships and cooperation with one city:

Notable residents

Below the list of some of many notable personalities of Oran:

See also


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  4. ^ "Oran" Archived 2019-04-15 at the Wayback Machine (US) and "Oran". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-08-05.
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  14. ^ a b Jewish Culture and Society in North Africa. Indiana University Press. July 2011. ISBN 978-0-253-00146-7.
  15. ^ Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia. Abc-Clio. 2007. ISBN 978-1-57607-919-5.
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  22. ^ Jonathan Israel (1994). "The Jews of Spanish Oran and Their Expulsion in 1669". Mediterranean Historical Review. 9 (2): 235–255. doi:10.1080/09518969408569672.
  23. ^ Gómez-Centurión Jiménez, Carlos (2008). "Exóticos pero útiles: los camellos reales de Aranjuez durante el siglo XVIII" [Exotic but Useful: The Royal Camels of Aranjuez during the 18th Century]. Cuadernos Dieciochistas (in European Spanish) (9): 155–180. ISSN 1576-7914. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  24. ^ "Le sépulcre du Bey Bouchelaghem (16?? - 1734): PATRIMOINE EN PÉRIL". Algerie network Blog (in French). 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2021-03-14.
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