Dar Aziza is a palace
built in the 16th century in Algiers, some time after the city became the
capital of an Ottoman regency. The designation of Dar Aziza comes from the name
of Princess Aziza Bey (daughter of the Dey of Algiers and wife of the Bey of
Constantine). Some historians believe that this is the Bey of Constantine that raised
this palace for his wife Aziza. Subsequently, it became the residence of the Beys
of Constantine when they came to Algiers.
The earthquake of February 1716 severely damaged the palace, involving
major restoration works. During the French occupation, this palace also
underwent important restorations. Further transformations occurred in the 1830s, when the palace began to serve as the Archbishop’s palace. It continued in this capacity until
the independence of Algeria, in 1962, when it was converted into a central
Spatially, the palace is organized around
the central square courtyard (wast
ad-dar: center of the house), which provides light and ventilation to the galleries
then to the different areas. One of these, particularly decorated and
containing a large alcove, was used as a reception area. The old entrance
called a skifa (bent entrance with a
low ceiling) disappeared during the French transformations.
The current access way is
a narrow corridor that leads to the central courtyard. Its door retains the
same ornamental principles of other main doors of the palace, namely rounded arch
doors, with its spandrels, and piers in finely-carved white marble. They were
all made in Italy with Renaissance stylistic influences. The woodwork of the
doors is, on the other hand, much more Moorish with an assembly of small
rectangular panels alternately horizontal and vertical (qayam wa nayam).
The galleries consist, on each side, of four arches resting on wreathed
columns through composite capitals. These arches are all horseshoe arches,
pointed at the top, and belong to the four-centered type. In the
space between columns of the second floor, there are carved wooden balustrades,
divided into three horizontal parts, and topped by armrests.