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MASCARA, chief town of an arrondissement in the department of Oran, Algeria, 60 m. S.E. of Oran. It lies 1800 ft. above the sea, on the southern slope of a range forming part of the Little Atlas Mountains, and occupies two small hills separated by the Wad Tudman, which is crossed by three stone bridges. The walls, upwards of two miles in circuit, and strengthened by bastions and towers, give the place a somewhat imposing appearance. Mascara is a town of the French colonial type, few vestiges of the Moorish period remaining. Among the public buildings are two mosques, in one of which Abd-el-Kader preached the jihad. The town also contains the usual establishments attaching to the seat of a sub-prefect and the centre of a military subdivision. The principal industry is the making of wine, the white wines of Mascara being held in high repute. There is also a considerable trade in grains and oil. A branch railway eight miles long connects Mascara with the line from the seaport of Arzeu to Ain Sefra. Access is also gained by this line to Oran, Algiers, etc. Pop. (1906) of the town, 18,989; of the commune, which includes several villages, 22,934; of the arrondissement, comprising eleven communes, 190,154.

Mascara (i.e. " mother of soldiers ") was the capital of a Turkish beylik during the Spanish occupation of Oran from the 16th to the close of the 18th century; but for the most of that period it occupied a site about two miles distant from the present position. On the removal of the bey to Oran its importance rapidly declined; and it was an insignificant place when in 1832 Abd-el-Kader, who was born in the neighbourhood, chose it as the seat of his power. It was laid in ruins by the French under Marshal Clausel and the duke of Orleans in 1835, the amir retreating south. Being reoccupied by Abd-el-Kader in 1838, Mascara was again captured in 1841 by Marshal Bugeaud and General Lamoriciere.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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