Batna, one of the largest cities in Algeria and capital of the Aures, is a fairly new creation founded by the French in 1844 as a military fortress. The fortress was built in a position that helped the French to patrol the surrounding mountains and enabled them to control access between the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains along the Kantara Pass. It has been here where the Algerian War of Independence against the French started. Today, the sprawling city – with its wide boulevards – serves as a market town thanks to the fertile surroundings and has seen a lot of expansion in more recent years, although it has started to taper off allowing the vibrant theatrical life of the city to make its return. Batna is also characterized by the Berber Chaoui ethnic group that historically has inhabited the area. Furthermore, the city has numerous cinemas and a cultural center – all great places to admire the hard work of the many talented young artists who perform here.
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