Located on the heights of Algiers, the capital and largest city of Algeria and erected on the site of an ancient military fort, the iconic Martyrs’ Memorial is a testament to the bloody struggle of Algeria to achieve freedom from the French colonizers. Locally known as Maqam Echahid, the 302 feet tall impressive concrete memorial, dedicated to the persons who gave their lives for the country, was opened in 1982, on the 20th anniversary of Algeria's independence, commemorating the Algerian war for independence that lasted from 1954 to 1962.
The project to build a massive memorial in memory of the dead from the War of Independence was the brainchild of Houari Boumedienne, who was the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Algeria for more than a decade until 12 December 1976 and thereafter served the country as the President and the undisputed leader until his death on 27 December 1978. However, implementation of the project was completed by his successor Chadli Bendiedid, the third President of the country. Erected on a hill, the striking memorial can be seen up and down the capital city’s long and winding coastline.
Based on a model produced in the Fine Art Institute of Algiers and with the active participation of the painter Bashir Yelles, calligrapher Abdelhamid Skander and the Polish sculptor Marian Konieczny, the unique monument consisting of three stylized fins that join mid-height, was built by the Canadian Company Lavalin, based in Montreal.
Standing close to the Botanical Garden Hamma, the Martyrs’ Memorial in Algeria is created in the shape of three soaring palm leaves, sheltering a burning flame of eternity beneath. Each leaf is punctuated at the base by a statue of a single Algerian soldier, like the alert guards, each representing a stage of Algeria's struggle. Above the three supporting fins, at 47 feet (14 m) from the ground, stands an Islamic style turret with a height of 25 feet (7.6 m), topped by a dome of 20 feet (6 m). It rests on an esplanade that includes, apart from the eternal flame, a crypt and an underground museum, called the National Museum of El Mujahid.
The constriction of the Martyrs’ Memorial began on 15 November 1981. It was a difficult technological challenge for the architects and the engineers concerned, due to the constraints inherent to the geometry of the assembly, especially the curvature of the fins, associated with the situation of the site at the edge of a steep cliff and high seismicity of the region. However, the tough task was completed by the efficient team of experts and the project was completed within eight months, on 5 July 1982.