My Favourite Ancient Ruins in Algeria

A melting pot of cultural influences, Algeria is a highly underrated North African tourist destination that has a lot to offer the historically, and culturally, minded traveler

Landscape in Africa
Gallivant Africa

With a veritable treasure trove of past influences ranging from French to Spanish and Berber to Roman, it’s no wonder the ruins here are almost as good as the architecture that still remains. Predominantly Roman, take your pick from our list of the eight coolest ancient ruins to visit in Algeria.

Rather grandly titled the ‘Pompeii of Africa,’ and UNESCO World Heritage recognized, Timgad is a fantastic example of a Roman colonial town that is a regularly recommended Algerian tourist attraction. Set in the lush hills of the northern Aurès Mountains, some of the must see points of interest at this fascinating sight include the Trajan Arch, which was restored at some point in the second century, and the Capitoline Temple. The latter is dedicated to Jupiter and is approximately the same size as the Pantheon in Rome, to give you some impression of the grandeur of this place. It is also one of the best examples of the logistics of Roman town planning, if that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat.

The home to a well-preserved and little-visited Roman theater rather grandly called Thubursicum Numidarum, Khemissa is a town in north eastern Algeria which is well worth a visit if you’re hunting for an in-the-know spot. The ruins, what are left of the old Roman town which was once there, have merged with the landscape, adding to the beauty and the drama of the hillside location which looks out onto Khemissa itself. The view from the small old forum is amazing, and the well-formed and still intact arches are truly impressive.

Previously known as Tipasa, this is another of Algeria’s most famed Roman ruins and with good reason. Constructed on three small hills, overlooking the ocean, it was a small trading-post of much commercial, but little cultural, importance in Roman Algeria. However, this cultural unimportance has long since been banished to the past, as Tipaza boasts a unique amalgamation of Phoenician, Roman, palaeochristian and Byzantine ruins, alongside indigenous monuments. This is according to the UNESCO World Heritage Site website, to which Tipaza was inaugurated in 1982. Aside from all this historical interest, the pristine Mediterranean beach location doesn’t hurt, either.

Meaning ‘beautiful’ in Arabic, Djemila is just that. Of the trio of well-known Roman cities in Algeria, this one is undoubtedly the best known, and it’s easy to see why. Set in the mountains of Setif, Djemila was formerly known as Cuicol and founded by Emperor Nerva Trajan in the first century. Arguably the most impressive feature of this ruin is the ornate, lavishly tiled museum that is incredibly well-maintained. Every inch of the ample walls is covered with mosaics, making for an intriguing and unmissable visual display. There are also a handful of elaborate houses, Byzantine churches and ancient temples on offer at these awesome Roman ruins. For its display of classical Roman architecture, Djemila easily warrants a spot in Algeria’s coolest ruins.


Miriro Matema
the authorMiriro Matema
Born in Zimbabwe and living in South Africa, Miriro is a seasoned publishing editor and writer, having worked with leading brands in investment, business leadership and entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa’s development, Miriro is also a dynamic marketing consultant with 10 years experience working with startups and large multinational corporations. With a heart for travel, Miriro spends her time discovering the nooks of crannies of Africa’s hidden gems, taking the roads less travelled, meeting the beautiful people that call Africa home while exploring their food and culture. Miriro is currently a writer with Byolife Travel and Gallivant Africa