Tours and Travel in Algeria
A Traveler’s Handbook: Map of Algeria & Places to Visit
Places to Visit
Cherchell is one of the most popular tourist places in Algeria. Cherchell has various splendid temples and monuments from the Punic, Numidian and Roman periods, and the works of art found there, including statues of Neptune and Venus, are now in the Museum of Antiquities in Algiers. The former Roman port is no longer in commercial use and has been partly filled by alluvial deposits and has been affected by earthquakes. The former local mosque of the Hundred Columns contains 89 columns of diorite. This remarkable building now serves as a hospital. The local museum displays some of the finest ancient Greek and Roman antiquities found in Africa. Cherchell is the birthplace of writer and movie director Assia Djebar.
The town was originally an ancient Egyptian settlement dating back to 1500 BC. In the town archaeologists have found a lower half of a seated Egyptian divinity in black basalt, bearing a cartouche of the Pharaoh of Egypt Thutmose I.
Oran is the most important city of the west of Algeria. Oran’s major claim to fame is the fact that it is the home of Rai music. Almost all great singers (Khaled, Cheb Mami, Faudel) are from Oran. The town was founded by Andalusian seamen in AD937 and flourished under Zianid rule, developing strong trading ties with Spain, which eventually led to Spanish occupation from 1509 to 1708 when Oran was captured by Ottoman forces. The Spanish recaptured the city two years later but withdrew after an earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1790.
Ghardaia is the traditional heart of the M’zab valley, home of the Ibadi sect in Algeria, and has preserved its original medieval architecture remarkably well; the valley of which it forms a part is an official World Heritage Site. Ghardaïa is renowned for its coarse goat hair carpets, generally with simple geometric patterns in black and white
Biskra is the capital city of Biskra province, Algeria. In 2007, its population was recorded as 207,987. During Roman times the town was named Vescera, and was in the province of Numidia. As of 1935, Biskra was an inland town, the principal settlement of a Saharan oasis watered by the intermittent Oued Biskra. It is in the southern part of the Algerian rail system, and a favorite winter resort. Large quantities of fruit, especially dates and olives, were grown in the vicinity. The town was a military post, and was the scene of severe fighting in the rebellions of 1849 and 1871.
With January temperatures averaging 11 C, Biskra is a common vacation spot in winter. Located in northeastern Algeria on the northern edge of the Sahara Desert, the area surrounding it is very arid and most of the population lives in oasis.
Timgad was a Roman colonial town in North Africa founded by the Emperor Trajan around 100 A.D. The full name of the town was Colonia Marciana Ulpia Traiana Thamugadi. Trajan commemorated the city after his mother Marcia, father Marcus Ulpius Traianus and his eldest sister Ulpia Marciana. The ruins are noteworthy for representing one of the best extant examples of the grid plan as used in Roman city planning.
The ruins of the town are located in modern-day Algeria town of Batna. The city was founded ex nihilo as a military colony, primarily as a bastion against the Berbers in the nearby Aures Mountains. It was originally populated largely by Parthian veterans of the Roman army who were granted lands in return for years in service. Designed for a population of around 15,000, the city quickly outgrew its original specifications and spilled beyond the orthogonal grid in a more loosely-organized fashion.
The original Roman grid plan is magnificently visible in the orthogonal design, highlighted by the decumanus maximus and the cardo lined by a partially-restored Corinthian colonnade. The cardo does not proceed completely through the town but instead terminates in a forum at the intersection with the decumanus.
At the west end of the decumanus rises a 12m high triumphal arch, called Trajan’s Arch, which was partially restored in 1900. The arch is principally of sandstone, and is of Corinthian order with three arches, the central one being 11′ wide. The arch is also known as the Timgad Arch.
A 3,500-seat theater is in good condition and is used for contemporary productions. The other key buildings include four thermae, a library, and basilica.
The Capitoline Temple is dedicated to Jupiter and is approximately the same dimensions as the Pantheon in Rome. Nearby the capitol is a square church with a circular apse dating from the 7th Century AD. Southeast of the city is a large Byzantine citadel built in the later days of the city.
The city enjoyed a peaceful existence for the first several hundred years and became a center of Christian activity starting in the 3rd Century, and a Donatist center in the 4th Located at the intersection of six roads, the city was walled but not fortified.
In the 5th Century, the city was sacked by the Vandals before falling into decline. In 535 A.D. the Byzantine general Solomon found the city when he came to occupy it. In the following century, the city was briefly repopulated as a primarily Christian city before being sacked by Berbers in the 7th Century and being abandoned. The city disappeared from history until its excavation in 1881.
At the time of its founding, the area surrounding the city was a fertile agricultural area, about 1000 meters above sea level. The encroachment of the Sahara on the ruins was ironically the principal reason why the town is so well preserved. Because no new settlements were founded on the site after the 7th Century, the town was partially preserved under sand up to a depth of approximately one meter until it was excavated.
Timgad was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
Annaba, which was called Hippo Regius during Roman times, was probably founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th century BC. It was a centre of early Christianity. Augustine of Hippo was bishop here from 396 until his death in 430. The city has buildings from its Roman, Christian, and Muslim eras. During French rule, the city was known as Bône
Constantine, the ancient city of Cirta, is located on the gorge of the Rhumel River. A major inland city, it is the railhead of a prosperous and diverse agricultural area. Constantine is also a center of the grain trade and has flour mills, a tractor factory, and industries producing textiles and leather goods. Products made by local artisans are economically important. Founded by Carthaginians (who called it Sarim Batim), Constantine became the capital and commercial center of Numidia and was named Cirta [the city]. Under Roman rule it was a major grain-shipping point and one of the wealthiest cities of Africa. Destroyed (AD 311) during the war preceding the accession of Constantine I, it was rebuilt by Constantine himself and renamed in his honor. The city was pillaged by the Vandals in the 5th cent. and later became an object of contention among various Muslim dynasties. The Turks captured it in the 16th cent. and made it a provincial capital. By the time of the French conquest in 1837 the district governor of Constantine had become virtually independent of the Ottoman Empire. Modern Constantine is the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop, a university, and a Muslim school of higher education.
Algiers, the capital and the largest city of the country, spreads around a crescent bay. The skyline is dominated by 92 meter high Martyr’s Memorial, which celebrates the liberation from colonialism, and the colonial hotel now known as Aurassi.
Algiers is a far more interesting city than its local authorities seem to have realized. Many buildings and quarters have been neglected, but with some appreciation of history, Algiers holds numerous illustrations to the fascinating history of this part of North Africa. Unfortunately with the ongoing renovation projects, you may find several attractions closed these days.
Algiers is very good on museums, found all around the city, these could very well be combined with interesting walks.
The French city, which is far more predominant here than in any other North African city, is not very well kept. If you can appreciate just the architectural points, many areas are worth seeing, though.
The waterfront area, very much part of the French legacy is quite beautiful. The Kasbah, or old city, has received a bad reputation, but many recent reports indicate that the security situation now is better. After all, it was built by pirates and their kind lived and did business there for a few centuries! Still, this part of Algiers has been found worthy of a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Martyr’s Memorial is about 3 km from the city center. It’s a big open square, with the monument in the middle. The whole structure can be seen from wherever you are in Algiers, and particularly from the sea.
Djemila is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved Roman ruins of North Africa. Djemila is the modern name to ancient Cuicul, a military garrison that was founded in the 1st century AD by Emperor Nerva, taking advantage of the rich surrounding agricultural areas. The city has two forums, and a theater with a capacity of 3,000, that was put outside the city walls because the terrain where the city is located was so limited. A baptistery and a basilica were added to Cuicul in the 4th century. It is believed that as many as 20,000 people lived here in the 3rd century. Cuicul was abandoned in the 5th century. Excavations began in here 1909.
The entrance to the site passes the museum, which is bursting at the seams with all its treasures. Three rooms are loaded with mosaics, marble statues, and items of daily life like oil lamps and cooking utensils.