The Berber tradition survives above all in Kabylia, a region E of Algiers, where the local dialect (Tamazight) is spoken as the first language. Music is part of everyday life; the most popular genre is the raï, where the lute and other traditional instruments mix with the more modern ones; it is a genre of pop music that began as a protest and is now widespread throughout the Arab world. One of the best known exponents is Cheb Mami. Algerian handicrafts still maintain a thriving production. Two other genres that have established themselves are the châabi (which takes its cue from Arab-Andalusian music) and the song kabyl (that is, originally from Kabylia). The most interesting traditional handicraft is that produced by the Tuareg of the southern Sahara, known for their complex leather processing and silver jewelery. The art of ceramics stands out, which is based on traditions and designs that date back to Roman and Andalusian traditions. Textile craftsmanship is closely linked to the Berber culture; each region is distinguished by particular designs and colors. Due to the various conflicts that have occurred since the second half of the twentieth century, Algeria still remains a country little visited by tourists: the vast area occupied by the desert, however, hides extraordinary monuments that could be of great appeal. In fact, there are numerous artistic treasures included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site: the royal complex of el-Q’ala in Beni Hammad (1980), the ancient Roman city of Djémila (1982), the ouadi of M’Zab (1982), the Tassili n’Ajjer (1982), a rich prehistoric site of resalent rock paintings up to 6000 BC; the Roman military colony of Timgad (1982) and the ancient ruins of Tipasa (1982). In 1992, the traditional urban structure was also declared a protected site (qaṣba) of Algiers.
The greatest manifestation of prehistoric figurative art is constituted by the engravings and rock paintings, of which the oldest belong to the Neolithic. There are numerous testimonies of this expression of art in the Algerian Sahara, even if among all those of Tassili stand out in importance, indicative of some sensitive affinities that they reveal with Iberian rock art and with other artistic expressions of pre-dynastic Egypt and of Crete. While in the western areas the engraved figuration is widespread, in the eastern ones (especially in the Tassili) more frequent is the painted one, monochromatic and polychrome. The appearance of the dolmen also dates back to the Neolithic. With the Phoenician colonization (1st millennium BC) the historical age begins. Some forms of architecture of the century. II a. C. (sepulchral monuments in el-Krub) reflect the contributions derived during the Punic period. Other later aspects of this kind of architecture document a more complete form of indigenous sepulcher not unrelated, however, to external influences for certain achievements of an artistic-monumental nature (the Medracen to the S of Constantina and the Tomb of Cristina at Tipasa) referable to the century. I a. C. A new urban configuration overlaps the local one with the Roman colonization. More with an urban rather than an honorary function there are numerous arches of the empire in Algeria, of which the most refined example is represented by the arch of Caracalla in Djemila. Interesting for its scenographic effects is the Timgad, the most perfect and regular Roman-African city: it gives an idea of the high standard of life established by Rome in Africa. Even in the Roman period the funeral monuments follow the tradition of the Punic system. African cities offer interesting solutions for the insertion of “holes” in urban plans (Timgad, Tipasa, Hippona) with monumental elevations of the great streets and the distribution of buildings and arcades according to axial composition criteria. In the great and sumptuous Caesarea (Cherchell), embellished by the patronage of Juba II, equipped with a theater, amphitheater, cisterns and aqueducts, little remains of the Forum, temples and other buildings, while the houses have returned many mosaics and sculptures. The presence of the Roman civilization is particularly attested through bridges, aqueducts and theaters. While buildings for Christian worship follow the patterns of the Roman West, Byzantine churches repeat patterns of contemporary Eastern buildings. Byzantine architecture is generally expressed through works of a military nature, such as fortifications and strongholds. According to directoryaah, the Arab conquest of Algeria, which began in the century. VII, ends in the century. VIII, with the subsequent defeat of the Berber kingdom of Kusayla, the Byzantines and the legendary queen of Aurès (al-Kāhina). The first mosques arise between the century. IX and X and at the beginning Muslim art has not a few links with Christian art. Attracted to Egypt, the Fatimites favored the invasion of the Hilalian Arabs, who in the century. XI introduced Hispano-Moorish architectural motifs. Nothing is left of the architecture of the following period, that of the Almohad Berbers (12th century): the madrāsa of Tlemcen was demolished in the sec. XIX. In Tlemcen stands the Great Mosque, one of the most important Islamic complexes (together with that of Algiers in 1096) in the country, begun under the almoravid Yūsuf ibn Tāshfīn and finished in 1136. Other notable Muslim monuments are the mosque of Sīdī Bū Marwān (1305) in Annaba (Bona), the mosque of Sīdī ibn ḥasan (1296) in Tlemcen (now the Archaeological Museum) and the Great Mosque of Constantina of the century. XIV. With the Turkish rule (16th century) the crushed domed mosque was introduced. With the French occupation in the century. XIX the architecture while preserving the traditional local forms tends to a modernization in the European sense. In the sec. XX the development and urbanization of the country have provided a remarkable field of action for architects operating at international level: Le Corbusier for the city of Algiers, with partial and less structured interventions, such as the University of Constantine, designed, in virtuosic forms, by Oscar Niemeyer.