Less than three hours from London, yet virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, the capital Algiers is one of the Mediterranean’s most mesmerising cities, a captivating mélange of faded French grandeur and neo-Moorish folly crowned by the most legendary of casbahs.

“Alger la Blanche” is the Mediterranean’s least known capital, whereas Constantine – “City of Bridges” – amazes with its precipitous rock faces. Oran, Algeria’s fast-growing and most dynamic city, is justly proud of its Spanish heritage, whilst Annaba – known to the French as Bône – makes the ideal base for a visit to Hippo Regius, where St Augustine once held sway.

Local event: International Cultural Festival of Andalusian Music and Ancient Music (December) Algiers, International Book Fair (October-November of each year) and