Posts Tagged: Algerian Gondolas



The Problem With ‘Téléphériques’

One of the challenges urban gondola transit and cable propelled transit must overcome is the issue of nomenclature. This is something we talk about a fair bit here at The Gondola Project (here, here and here, for example) and it appears to have contributed to some of our own confusion about the Algerian Gondolas.

Let me explain.

Algeria’s official language is Arabic. Owing, however, to the North African’s history of French colonization, a majority of Algerians also speak and understand French with much business, media and education conducted in that language. As such, when we’ve hunted for information on the Algerian Gondolas, we’ve tended to do so in French. Granted, pursing research in Arabic would likely yield better results than in French but sometimes you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got.

Now . . . Anecdotally speaking, the most common term for cable transit systems in French is Téléphérique. This initially presented some challenges.

Google something like Téléphérique + Constantine (go ahead, we’ll wait) and you’ll find no shortage of images, videos, pages, etc. showing something like this:

Image via SkyscraperCity.

Now to any regular reader of The Gondola Project, you’ll immediately recognize this as a simple Monocable Detachable Gondola system (more specifically, it’s a 15-seater). But look what happens when you google something like Téléphérique + Algiers:


The Alger Téléphérique El-Madania. Creative Commons image by Poudou99.

Clearly the El-Madania Téléphérique in Algiers is an Aerial Tram not an MDG system.

Which means the French word Téléphérique is more akin to the English phrase Aerial Ropeway instead of Gondola. In other words: As we’re researching the Algerian Gondolas, we have to recognize that most of them will be referenced using the umbrella term Téléphérique. Which leads to the problem:

Without any clear indicators (by way of a photo or something else), it is very difficult to determine what technologies have been or will be implemented across Algeria’s slew of 23 Téléphériques.

We also see the term Télécabine used in reference to the Constantine, Skikda and Tlemcen gondolas, but there doesn’t seem to be any exact agreement on what that term means (see the English translation of the French Wikipedia page to get an idea of the confusion). Télécabine seems to be used most commonly to describe a detachable gondola but there isn’t any clear consensus.

As such, we’ll just have to figure out each one individually, one at a time.

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23 Algerian Gondolas!?!

Algiers Telepherique El-Madania. Creative Commons image by Poudou99.

As we declared last week, this week is going to be dedicated to unravelling some of the mystery surrounding Algeria’s rapidly expanding Urban Gondola plans. Algerian cities have many topographical challenges and it appears that the government has renewed it’s interest in ropeway technology as a means to combat those challenges.

The challenge for us, however, is to untangle the huge amount of information that exists about these systems and put them into some kind of clear order. Not easy considering the level of development in Algeria; the lack of easy-to-access information flowing out of the country; and the language barriers that exist.

Thus far, we understand that after the current spurt of planning, rehabilitation and construction of urban gondolas that is occurring throughout the country, Algeria will be left with a total of 23 ropeway systems.

These systems will be spread across 13 different cities in the following manner:

  • Algiers: 9 total systems (5 in use, 2 under construction, 2 planned)
  • Constantine: 3 total systems (1 in use, 2 planned)
  • Tlemcen: 1 total system (in use)
  • Oran: 1 total system (in use)
  • Annaba: 1 total system (in use)
  • Skikda: 1 total system (in use)
  • Chrea: 1 total system (in use)
  • Tizi Ouzou: 1 planned system
  • Bejaia: 1 planned system
  • Mediea: 1 planned system
  • Beni Saf: 1 planned system
  • Taref: 1 planned system
  • Jijel: 1 planned system

For a developing world country of only ~ 35M people, this is a fascinating phenomenon. Our original understanding was that the epicenter of urban gondolas was South America.

But if the above plans be true and realized, then it should be clear that Algeria is the place to look to for inspiration.


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