Algeria has seven sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list: Beni Hammad, Djemila, the M’Zab Valley, the Tassili, Timgad, Tipasa and the casbah of Algiers.
M’Zab: Ghardaia & Beni Isguen
Ghardaia is one of the pentapolis towns of the Saharan M’Zab Valley, one of Algeria’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the walled settlement of Beni Isguen – normally closed to foreigners – the local women, clad entirely in white, reveal only one eye to the outside world.
Djemila – ancient Cuicul – is one of North Africa’s most monumental sites. Founded by Nerva, Djemila’s wheel-rutted streets are lined with two fora and a clutch of elaborate houses, churches and temples. Equally impressive is Djemila’s stunning museum of mosaics.
Tipasa, nestling undisturbed amongst palm trees on the shores of the Mediterranean, once served as an inspiration to Albert Camus. Phoenician, Roman, palaeo-Christian and Byzantine ruins vie for attention alongside the nearby Mauritanian mausoleum.
Timgad, the “Pompeii of Africa”, was constructed under Trajan as a bulwark against the unruly Berbers. With its immense library, colonnaded streets, myriad temples and imposing arch of Trajan, Timgad is the embodiment of Roman urban planning.
Algeria’s mountainous Tassili region, bordering Libya to the east and Niger to the south, is distinguished by its towering dunes of sand, its sheer-sided canyons, its beguiling “forests of rock” and over 15,000 rock carvings and paintings.
The casbah of Algiers remains one of the world’s most mythical labyrinths: “a masterpiece of architecture and town planning” according to Le Corbusier, the casbah’s huddled houses tumble down the hill-side before seemingly spilling over into the sea.
Situated 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 crowned by one of North Africa’s largest mosques.