Algeria’s Roman historical sites are by far the most overlooked and underrated in the Mediterranean. With a significantly smaller tourism industry, most conventional North African tours miss out on its numerous history-rich marvels and sights. Still, we believe the hidden gems of Algeria will make for an absolutely unforgettable, unique tour. Thus, here is a list of our 7 most popular Roman ruins for you to visit in Algeria.
#1 – Tipaza
If you find yourself passing through Algeria, the ruins of Tipaza are an easy must-see. Structures left behind here remain in great condition, dating back to the Phoenician and Roman eras. Also, its beautiful coastline location gives it some breathtaking views.
A few of the impressive remains you can find here include an amphitheater, a colosseum, a large basilica, a Mausoleum, and two unknown temples. An altar table still stands in one of the temples, reflecting ages past when merchants tried to seek favor from the gods. And now, for the light of heart, it’s a good spot for a family photo pretending to sacrifice your youngest kid.
Walking through the Roman roads truly takes you back in time. The little details like road drainage systems, door hinges, and mosaics are still intact. The foundations of the wealthiest homes still hug the coastline, with the best views in town. Undoubtedly, the uniqueness and beauty of this coastal city from Carthage to Volubilis.
Lucky for families and non-history buffs, the ruins aren’t Tipaza’s only feature. Right nearby, the Sea offers a host of activities. Small tour boats are always ready to give a cheap ride to see the towering mountains and some spooky caves. Moreover, in the heat of the summer, many locals visit the site for a swim in the crystal clear waters. If you need a rest, the site is kept and maintained, making it a good picnic spot.
#2 – Timgad
If you are looking for a much more known and expansive Roman colony, Timgad is your place. Nearly all our Algeria tours include a stop at this ancient city. While being a little less family-friendly than Tipaza, it hosts a full, grand, and well-preserved city. For good reason, this site is often referred to as the Pompeii of Africa.
Surrounded by flat farmlands, the site is an enormous rectangle without obstruction. You can get a good view of the whole area atop the amphitheater. Zooming out, there is a clear grid pattern that makes for a great model of city planning in the early centuries.
One of the distinctive structures in this city is the library, one of only two remaining public libraries from the Roman period. Additionally, Trajan’s Arch, a huge three-gate road arch, still stands with great integrity. Overall, it’s a beautiful site. Trekking through these streets is sure to be a historian’s dream.
Further North, in Algeria’s picturesque rolling hill countryside, is Djemlia. This important North African site is not only home to ruins, but the largest African collection of Mosaics outside Tunisia’s Bardo Museum. Only, be sure to bring comfortable shoes because it can take a while to walk the city’s full Cardo Maximus (Roman Road).
An adventure here includes an enclosed baptistry, a massive forum, a high-standing temple, and a triumphal arch. Although, personally, my favorite spot was the outside public toilets. It’s another great picture spot. Plus, looking into those ancient latrines, I even noticed that they are still in use today—or at least for one person.
According to our guide, one of the most interesting and significant finds in this site was unearthing a stone table. Yes, you read that right, this table wasn’t made of silver or gold. Carved into its stone were ancient “measuring cups”. This was greatly insightful for archeologists, to show how Roman shop owners measured goods to size. It still stands there today.
#4 – Tiddis
Of our 7 popular roman rights to visit in Algeria, this one is likely one of the lesser notorious. Situated atop a rocky hilltop, Tiddis was a fortified town with a neat history protecting the nearby city of Constantine, Algeria’s gorgeous ‘city of bridges’. With a unique enormous gorge splitting the city in half, visiting Constantine is already a must for an Algeira tour. So, adding on a short leg to visit this site is an easy decision.
Compared with the rest of the popular Algerian Roman sites, Tiddis has a completely different look. The region has this striking contrast because of its red soil and rocky, steep mountains. Similarly, the building stones here have a red hue up the steep fortified slope. Most of the buildings outside the city walls remain buried in mystery (and dirt), but higher up the mountaintop is quite curious.
Higher up, we find a winding Cardo Maximus through an archway and past a few caves. One thing that makes this spot interesting to explore is how efficiently space was used inside its limiting city walls. A poor basilica had to be crammed in right across the street from a pagan Mithraic temple—which gives a good hint at what hypocritical religious life was like in those times.
#5 – Hippo Regius
Next up, this list would not be complete without mentioning the ruins of Hippo Regius. This city was highly influential and well-known in the 4th and 5th centuries, in no small part to being the home of Saint Augustine, the most prolific Christian figure in the 4th century. Here, take the chance to stand in Augustine’s roman shoes and explore his very Basilica.
If you have more interest in Church history, the much newer St. Augustin Basilica overlooks the ruins in nearby Annaba. Otherwise, the site has a typical Forum, market, and a less-maintained theater. Like any other Roman site, exploring the meadow’s city streets is more than enough to entertain a hobby historian.
Also, we’ve heard that at this site, like many Algerian sites, it is hard to find English-speaking guides (the common second language is French). If you visit Algeria, instead of ‘winging it’ and hoping for the best, we recommend researching a reputable tour company that can ensure a smooth, and all-English tour.
We’d love to help you do that—build a worry-free awesome tour. We have on-the-ground tour specialists with connections to the best guides and can help build you the best tour route for your upcoming trip to North Africa. Contact us for a free quote!
#6 – Cherchell
Not too far from Tipaza, another seaside roman port city, once the capital of Mauretania. In its time, it’s gone through a few name changes: Iol, Caesarea, and finally, Cherchell. If you are already taking a tour of the popular Roman Ruins to visit in Algeria’s West, it’s no trouble to add a stop here.
Although most of the ancient ruins have been overtaken by a retirement city built on top of her (expect to see lots of nice gentlemen feeding birds on the benches), a few structures are still protected. This includes baths, a theater, and a pagan temple converted into a still very Roman-looking mosque.
The biggest highlight of Cherchell is a newly built museum. It contains a good collection of statues, mosaics, and ancient engravings. And refreshingly, all the staff there had a great passion for their town’s history.
While you’re in town, a good tour guide will also route you through the city’s open souk (market) for a taste of local culture. We find that the most memorable travels are when you immerse and see another culture. Unfortunately, on many canned tours, you don’t get the chance to see everything. Try to find a tour that won’t give you just a “regular tourist experience.”
# 7 – Guelma (Calama)
Finally, the last (but not least) of our favorite Algerian Roman sites is Calama. Now populated as the modern city of Guelma, it is a great spot for the sole purpose of seeing its star attraction: the best-preserved theater in the region.
Aside from its 4,500-person theater in excellent condition, the site also has some baths and a small museum. And nearby, you must check out the multicolored waterfalls coming from a hot spring: Hammam Maskhoutine. Plus, nearby, if you still haven’t had your history bone satisfied, there is another roman site nearby: Khemissa. All this makes Guelma a great spot to add to any literary.
Visiting Other (non-roman) Sites
Out of all the 7 most popular Roman Ruins to visit in Algeria, there isn’t quite a wrong choice. We hope you will visit as many as possible. But, of course, you can’t make a trip through Algeria and only see Roman sites. There is much, much more to see!
If you are into history, make a visit to the mysterious, ancient Tomb De le Christian, or her sister the Medracen. For French and revolutionary history, breeze through the streets of the uptown Algiers Kasbah (ancient city).
For a more cultural experience, see the unique oasis city of Ghardaia. Locals, there still practice their ancient Arab social structures and traditions. Or you can even spend several nights camping in the deep Sahara Desert—now, that is one way to make a trip unforgettable.
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