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The modern part of the city is built on the level ground by the seashore; the old part, the ancient city of the deys, climbs the steep hill behind the modern town and is crowned by the casbah or citadel, 122 metres (400 ft) above the sea.The casbah and the two quays form a triangle.) from the Arabic name الجزائر al-Jazā’ir, which translates as "The Islands", referring to the four islands which used to lie off the city's coast until becoming part of the mainland in 1525.The city was given Latin rights by Emperor Vespasian.
Sometimes nicknamed El-Behdja (البهجة) or alternatively Alger la Blanche ("Algiers the White") for the glistening white of its buildings as seen rising up from the sea, Algiers is situated on the west side of a bay of the Mediterranean Sea.
The primary source for knowledge of Algiers of this period, since there are no contemporary local sources, is the Topografía e historia general de Argel (1612, but written earlier), published by Diego de Haedo, but whose authorship is disputed.
This work describes in detail the city, the behavior of its inhabitants, and its military defenses, with the unsuccessful hope of facilitating an attack by Spain so as to end the piracy.
In October 1541 in the Algiers expedition, the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sought to capture the city, but a storm destroyed a great number of his ships, and his army of some 30,000, chiefly made up of Spaniards, was defeated by the Algerians under their Pasha, Hassan.
Ornate Ottoman cannon found in Algiers on 8 October 1581 by Ca'fer el-Mu'allim.
The present-day city was founded in 944 by Bologhine ibn Ziri, the founder of the Berber Zirid–Sanhaja dynasty.