Algerian Heritage listed by UNESCO
- Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad (1980)
- Djémila (1982)
- Kasbah of Algiers (1992)
- M’Zab Valley (1982)
- Timgad (1982)
- Tipasa (1982)
- Tassili n’Ajjer (1982)
Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad (1980)
In a mountainous site of extraordinary beauty, the ruins of the first capital of the Hammadid emirs, founded in 1007 and demolished in 1152, provide an authentic picture of a fortified Muslim city. The mosque, whose prayer room has 13 aisles with eight bays, is one of the largest in Algeria.
The Qal’a of Beni Hammad is a remarkable archaeological site located 36 km to the north-east of the town of M’Sila. This ensemble of preserved ruins, at 1,000 m altitude, is located in a mountainous setting of striking beauty on the southern flank of Djebel Maâdid. The Qal’a of Beni Hammad was founded at the beginning of the 11th century by Hammad, son of Bologhine (founder of Algiers), and abandoned in 1090 under the threat of a Hilalian invasion. It is one of the most interesting and most precisely dated monumental complexes of the Islamic civilization. It was the first capital of the Hammadid emirs and enjoyed great splendour. The Qal’a comprises, within 7 km of partially dismantled fortified walls, a large number of monumental vestiges, among which are the great Mosque and its minaret, and a series of palaces. The mosque, with its prayer hall comprising 13 naves of 8 bays is the biggest after that of Mansourah and its minaret is the oldest in Algeria after that of Sidi Boumerouane. The ruins of the Qal’a bear witness to the great refinement of the Hammad civilization, an original architecture and the palatial culture of North Africa.
Situated 900 m above sea-level, Djémila, or Cuicul, with its forum, temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and houses, is an interesting example of Roman town planning adapted to a mountain location.
he site of Djémila is located 50 km north-east of the town of Sétif. Known under its antique name Cuicul, Djémila is an establishment of an ancient Roman colony founded during the reign of Nerva (96 – 98 A.D.). The Roman town occupied a singular defensive position. Cuicul is one of the flowers of Roman architecture in North Africa. Remarkably adapted to the constraints of the mountainous site, on a rocky spur which spreads at an altitude of 900 m, between the wadi Guergour and the wadi Betame, two mountain torrents, the town has its own Senate and Forum. Around the beginning of the 3rd century, it expanded beyond its ramparts with the creation of the Septimius Severus Temple, the Arch of Caracalla, the market and the civil basilica. The site has also been marked by Christianity in the form of several cult buildings: a cathedral, a church and its baptistry are considered among the biggest of the Paleochristian period. The site of Djémila comprises an impressive collection of mosaic pavings, illustrating mythological tales and scenes of daily life.
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982, Tipasa on the shores of the Mediterranean comprises Phoenician, Roman, palaeochristian and Byzantine ruins alongside indigenous monuments such as the Kbor er Roumia, the great royal mausoleum of Mauritania. An ancient Punic trading-post conquered by Rome, Tipasa turned into a strategic base for the conquest of the kingdoms of Mauritania.
Tipasa is located 70 km west of Algiers. It is a serial property comprising three sites: two archaeological parks located in the vicinity of the present urban complex and the Royal Mauritanian Mausoleum, on the west Sahel plateau of Algiers, at 11 km south-east of Tipasa.
The archaeological site of Tipasa regroups one of the most extraordinary archaeological complexes of the Maghreb, and perhaps one which is most significant to the study of the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and the different waves of colonization from the 6th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. This coastal city was first a Carthaginian trading centre, whose necropolis is one of the oldest and one of the most extensive of the Punic world (6th to 2nd century B.C.). During this period, Tipasa played the role of a maritime port of call, a place for commercial exchanges with the indigenous population. Numerous necropolis testify to the very varied types of burial and funerary practices that bear witness to the multicultural exchange of influences dating back to protohistoric times. The monumental, circular funerary building, called the Royal Mauritanian Mausoleum, associates a local architectural tradition of the basina type, to a style of stepped truncated roof covering, the result of the different contributions, notably Hellenistic and Pharaonic.
The Roman period is marked by a prestigious ensemble of buildings, comprising very diversified architectural typologies. From the 3rd to the 4th centuries A.D. a striking increase in Christianity is demonstrated by the multitude of religious buildings. Some are decorated with high quality mosaic pavings, illustrating scenes from daily life, or geometric patterns. The Vandal invasion of the 430’s did not mark the definitive end of prosperity of Tipasa, but the town, reconquered by the Byzantines in 531, gradually fell into decline from the 6th century.
M’Zab Valley (1982)
A traditional human habitat, created in the 10th century by the Ibadites around their five ksour (fortified cities), has been preserved intact in the M’Zab valley. Simple, functional and perfectly adapted to the environment, the architecture of M’Zab was designed for community living, while respecting the structure of the family. It is a source of inspiration for today’s urban planners.
Located 600 km south of Algiers, in the heart of the Sahara Desert, the five ksour (fortified villages) of the M’Zab Valley form an extraordinarily homogenous ensemble constituting, in the desert, the mark of a sedentary and urban civilization possessing an original culture that has, through its own merit, preserved its cohesion throughout the centuries. Comprised of ksour and palm groves of El-Atteuf, Bounoura, Melika, Ghardaïa and Beni-Isguen (founded between 1012 and 1350), the M’Zab Valley has conserved practically the same way of life and the same building techniques since the 11th century, ordered as much by a specific social and cultural context, as by the need for adaptation to a hostile environment, the choice of which responded to a historic need for withdrawal and a defensive imperative. Each of these miniature citadels, surrounded by walls, is dominated by a mosque, the minaret of which functions as a watchtower. The mosque is conceived as a fortress, the last bastion of resistance in the event of a siege, and comprises an arsenal and a grain store. Around this building, which is essential for communal life, are houses built in concentric circles up to the ramparts. Each house constitutes a cubic cell of standard type, illustrating an egalitarian society founded on the respect for the family structure, aiming at the preservation of its intimacy and autonomy. At the beginning of the first millennium, the Ibadis created in the M’Zab, with local materials, a vernacular architecture which, with its perfect adaptation to the environment and the simplicity of its forms, is an example and an influence for contemporary architecture and town-planning.
Timgad lies on the northern slopes of the Aurès mountains and was created ex nihilo as a military colony by the Emperor Trajan in AD 100. With its square enclosure and orthogonal design based on the cardo and decumanus, the two perpendicular routes running through the city, it is an excellent example of Roman town planning.
Timgad, located to the north of the massif of the Aurès in a mountainous site of great beauty, 480 km south-east of Algiers and 110 km to the south of Constantine, is a consummate example of a Roman military colony created ex nihilo. The Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi was founded in 100 A.D. by Trajan, probably as an encampment for the 3rd Augustan Legion which, thereafter, was quartered at Lambaesis. Its plan, laid out with great precision, illustrates Roman urban planning at its height. By the middle of the 2nd century, the rapid growth of the city had ruptured the narrow confines of its original foundation. Timgad spread beyond the perimeters of its ramparts and several major public buildings are built in the new quarters: Capitolium, temples, markets and baths. Most of these buildings date from the Severan period when the city enjoyed its Golden Age, also attested by immense private residences.
A strong and prosperous colony, Timgad must have served as a compelling image of the grandeur of Rome on Numidian soil. Buildings, constructed entirely of stone, were frequently restored during the course of the Empire: the Trajan Arch in the middle of the 2nd century, the Eastern gate in 146, and the Western gate under Marcus-Aurelius. The streets were paved with large rectangular limestone slabs and, as attested by the 14 baths which still may be seen today, particular attention was paid to the disposition of public conveniences. The houses, of varying sizes, dazzle by their sumptuous mosaics, which were intended to offset the absence of precious marbles. During the Christian period, Timgad was a renowned bishopric. After the Vandal invasion of 430, Timgad was destroyed at the end of the 5th century by montagnards of the Aurès. The Byzantine Reconquest revived some activities in the city, defended by a fortress built to the south, in 539, reusing blocks removed from Roman monuments. The Arab invasion brought about the final ruin of Thamugadi which ceased to be inhabited after the 8th century.
Tassili n’Ajjer (1982)
Located in a strange lunar landscape of great geological interest, this site has one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings record the climatic changes, the animal migrations and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 BC to the first centuries of the present era. The geological formations are of outstanding scenic interest, with eroded sandstones forming ‘forests of rock’.
Tassili n’Ajjer is a vast plateau in south-east Algeria at the borders of Libya, Niger and Mali, covering an area of 72,000 sq. km. The exceptional density of paintings and engravings, and the presence of many prehistoric vestiges, are remarkable testimonies to Prehistory. From 10,000 BC to the first centuries of our era, successive peoples left many archaeological remains, habitations, burial mounds and enclosures which have yielded abundant lithic and ceramic material. However, it is the rock art (engravings and paintings) that have made Tassili world famous as from 1933, the date of its discovery. 15,000 engravings have been identified to date.
The property is also of great geological and aesthetic interest: the panorama of geological formations with “rock forests” of eroded sandstone resembles a strange lunar landscape.
The Kasbah of Algiers (1992)
The Kasbah of Algiers is an outstanding example of a historic Maghreb city having had extensive influence on town-planning in the western part of the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa.
Indeed, located on the Mediterranean coast, the site was inhabited at least from the 6th century BC when a Phoenician trading post was established there. The term Kasbah, that originally designated the highest point of the medina during the Zirid era, today applies to the ensemble of the old town of El Djazair, within the boundaries marked by the ramparts and built at the end of the 16th century, dating back to the Ottoman period.
In this living environment where nearly 50,000 people reside, very interesting traditional houses, palaces, hammams, mosques and various souks are still conserved, the urban form of which bears witness to an effect of stratification of several styles in a complex and original system that has adapted remarkably well to a very hilly and uneven site.