by Thomas Buechler - 8 months, 2 weeks ago
From Ghardaia, I take some minibuses via Ourgla to Biskra which takes pretty much the whole day; Hotel Ziban has its own bar which is indeed a welcome change after some bare days in the South. The next day I visited the Roman ruins of Timgad, built by emperor Trajan in 100AD who called the city Thamugadi. It became a resting place for war veterans and retirees of the Roman empire, and later one of the headquarters of the Donatists, a Christian sect that did not follow the orders of the main church. Thamgudi was later on destroyed by Muslim forces, and it was only a British traveller and the French archeologists who discovered the sunken city in 1880, brought of corse some artefacts to their museums in Paris, and started to renovate the ruins. You will find all elements of a Roman City like the Forum, the library, the market places, the baths with toilets, a Capitol, and even an erected phallus which indicates that there must have been a kind of brothel.
The advantage in Algeria is that almost all hotels and guesthouses have French TV channels, especially appreciated in remote towns like Ms'ila that I reached in a 3-hour ride with a "Tintin" like shared taxi from Batna, my backpack securely attached on the roof of the cab. The restaurant manager of Kal'aa Hotel offered his services to drive me to the Beni Hammad ruins, about 80km return, towards the Hodna mountains and passing some typical villages that for sure have not seen many tourists yet. The site itself consists of the Dar al Bahar, the great lake palace with its own pool (but empty these days!) a great mosque with minaret that I climbed to the very top with a spectacular view. I was told that the old city of Beni Hammad was surrounded by huge entry gates in 3 directions to prevent ennemy forces from entering. That was in the 11th century under the berbic Zirid dynasty which ruled parts of the Maghreb from 973 to 1148.The whole site is nothing spectacular compared with other WHS in Algeria, but is well worth a detour if you are in the region, also because of the quite picturesque landscape.