Roman Ruins In Algeria – The Great, The Good, The Subpar. When you think of Algeria, visions of Roman ruins might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But you might be surprised, northern part of Algeria that traces the Mediterranean is dotted with Roman ruins. Across the coast visitors can find a number of Roman ruins. The Roman Empire in 24 AD annexed the northern part of Algeria displacing the native Berber population. The Romans began to construct forts and towns as they expanded their rule.
During my stay in Algeria I visited three Roman ruins. One a must-see (Djemila), one worthwhile (Tiddis), and one I wish I skipped (Tipaza).
Djemila is a well-preserved Roman ruin in a beautiful setting of rolling green hills. This Roman colony was established at the end of the first century AD. The ruins are spread out over a large expanse. Djemila’s highlights include the Arch of Caracalla, the Temple of Gens Septimia, and a 3,000 person theatre.
In addition to the impressive ruins at this UNESCO site, is a compact museum. The museum contains incredibly beautiful and large mosaics. I was dazzled by these mosaics but in a couple of weeks I was to be more impressed when visiting the Bardo Musuem in Tunis which has an extensive collection of mosaics.
One of the benefits of visiting ruins in Algeria is there is a lack of tourism. During my visit I shared the grounds with 2 western tourists and a handful of locals.
Dejmila is located between Algiers and Constantine. I stayed at a hotel in El Eulma to visit Djemila where I hired a taxi to bring me to the ruin. The entry fee is 200 Dinars, a little more than a dollar. Read my post on practical tips for visiting Algeria.
Tiddis is perched on the side of a mountain. It is not well preserved as Djemila, but its unique setting and total lack of visitors adds to the experience. I was literally the only visitor to Tiddis. There was a settlement prior to the Romans arrival, but the Romans expanded the area in the 3rd century AD.
My home base for my visit to Tiddis was the town of Constantine. I hired a taxi to bring me to the ruins.
Tipaza hovers on the blue Mediterranean Sea and is a popular site to visit for the locals being an hour drive from the capital, Algiers. With the proximity comes a site that was overrun with hordes of people on a week day. Also, this by far was the least impressive of the three ruins I visited. Virtually, the entire sites were simply just nubs of stones representing the bottom layer of the foundation of a once magnificent structure. You need a very strong imagination to appreciate Tipaza.
There is a cottage tourist industry of bringing visitors by boat to view the ruins from the sea. The price was either 1,500 Dinar (about $10) for a mini-tour or 7,000 Dinar for a full tour. Being cheap, I opted for the mini tour. We headed out to see for my twenty minute tour. Leaving the harbor, the pilot turned right the opposite direction of the ruins. When out to see, the captain then asked for more money if I wanted to see ruins. I refused, we headed back to shore, and my twenty minute tour, was truncated to a measly ten minutes without viewing the ruins.
To visit Tipaza, it is easy to hire a taxi to make a half-day trip. Read here for more details.
Roman Ruins In Algeria – The Great, The Good, The Subpar
Check out my other posts on Algeria.