Chlef (Arabic: الشلف) is the capital of Chlef Province, Algeria. It is home to the soccer club ASO Chlef, the Hassiba Ben Bouali university, and the basilica of Saint Reparatus, which is home to the oldest Christian labyrinth in the world.
The province of Chlef is located in the north of Algeria, 200 km west of the capital Algiers.
The site of the roman citadel, Castellum Tingitanum, was known as Al-Asnam (Arabic for "sculptures") on account of an area of 600 x 300 metres containg many statues.
In 1843 Maréchal Bugeaud founded the city of Orléansville here. A Christian basilica dating back to the reign of the Emperor Constantine was discovered here, with an elaborate mosaic. This is the oldest church to be found in Africa.
The town was located at the confluence of the river Chlef and the Tsighaout. The town developed slowly on account of the climate, one of the hottest in Algeria.
On the night of 8/9 September 1954, the town was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake with over 1,500 fatal casualties affecting people as much as 70 kilometres away.
At that time the town had a population of 44,400 inhabitants. It was the home of the Algerian Division of the Lettrist International (LI), most of whom died in the earthquake. Mohamed Dahou survived and went on to become involved in the Situationist International. The LI described the town as "the most lettrist city in the world"
In 1962 the city was renamed Al-Asnam, and then Chlef in 1980, derived from the name of the longest river in Algeria.
Amongst the towns of Chlef are: El-Karimia, Chlef, Oued Fodda, Beni-Bou-Atab, Boukadir, Oum-Drou, Ouled Abass, Beni-Rached, Taougrite, Aïn-Mran, Sobha, Tenes, Dhahra and others.
- (French) A website about colonial Chlef
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