Africa’s largest country – Algeria – is the land of the Berbers. The Atlas Mountains and Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north and the vast Sahara Desert everywhere else mark the country’s terrain. The tempting blend of cultures, landscape, history and extensive Roman ruins are the drawcards of Algeria that lure visitors.
Capital Algiers is the beating heart of Algeria. From Romans to Ottomans, many empires have contributed to the city’s rich culture and historical architecture. The UNESCO world heritage listed Casbah is where you should start your exploration of Algiers. The area is dotted with numerous Ottoman buildings including the famous Dar Hassan Pacha Palace. Even though Algiers has a fine Mediterranean coastline, most of the city’s charms lie within its beautiful mosques, museums and palaces. The ninety-two metre tall Martyrs’ Memorial, commemorating the Algerian war for independence is one of Algiers’ most notable monuments and the Neo-Byzantine building of Notre-Dame d’Afrique is a 19th-century architectural gem. If you want to take a break from architecture and museums and enjoy some fresh air, visit Jardin d’Essai du Hamma – a botanical garden spread across 58-hectares, boasting a huge collection of plants and trees.
Algeria’s third city, Constantine is located about 400km southeast of the capital. Constantine is blessed with stunning geography and known as the city of bridges, as it is home to as many as 7 historic bridges. Even though the city has lovely natural surroundings and has political, cultural and economic importance, Constantine has very less actual tourist sites.
We have already addressed the fact that Algeria is known for its extensive Roman ruins and if you want to explore them, Djemila – located about 130km from Constantine is the best place to kickstart your voyage. At this small village lies the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Cuicul and the hilly surroundings add scenic beauty to its ancient charm. From here, you can plan a trip to Timgad – the crown jewel of Algeria’s Roman legacy. The city’s well-preserved Roman ruins are extensive and not a site that you would want to visit in a hurry, so come with a fair amount of time in hand. This UNESCO world heritage site will welcome you with its well-preserved triumphal arch – the Arch of Trajan. Other notable ruins in the site include the Great Baths, a town centre with a library, a theatre, a fort, a market and a capitol area. Another extensive Roman ruin in Algeria is UNESCO listed Tipaza (also known as Tipasa), located on the Mediterranean coast and just an hour away from Algiers. Just like Timgad, Tipaza also features plenty of evidence to help you investigate its ancient Roman heritage. Other than these, the ruins of Hippo Regius in Annaba city are also worth a visit.
Algeria’s historical importance is not limited to Roman sites. Cities like Tlemcen, once an important Islamic city, have their own slice of history. The walled city is home to a plethora of Islamic monuments including tombs and mosques – like the 11th-century Grand Mosque. Located in the river valley of the Oued M’Zab, the five towns – Ghardaia, Melika, Beni Isguen, Bou Noura and El-Atteuf, collectively called Ghardaia and known for its best-quality carpets. However, on a trip to Ghardaia, you will realize that even though the towns are merged together, each one of them has their own identity.
More than ninety percent of Algeria is covered by the Sahara. In the middle of the Sahara Desert, far away from everything else, UNESCO world heritage listed Tassili n’Ajjer National Park tops the list of the most beautiful places in Algeria. It has a stunning setting, with amazing sandstone formations rising from the desert floor like towering skyscrapers as well as prehistoric rock art.
Algeria is a geologically, historically and culturally diverse country and a trip here is like travelling back in time without scratching your head to build a time machine.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa.