The roman ruins of Timgad are a well-guarded secret of Algeria. While the ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon, Leptis Magna in Libya and Palmyra in Syria are well known, few people have ever heard of Timgad. This is surprising since the ruins of Timgad are the biggest of Algeria. Most travelers to Algeria will stop by the ruins of Djemilla rather than Timgad, however, we believe that Timgad also deserves some lovin’
Timgad is known best for its well-preserved arch of Trajan, who was the emperor at the time of its foundation and indeed, it is quite a majestic sight. Located in what is now Batna province, the city was founded in 100 AD. It takes its name from the Berber name of the place, Thamugadi, which means “the peaks”. It was an important city in early Christianity until it was sacked by the Vandals and then part of the Byzantine empire. The city completely ceased to be inhabited around the 8th century AD, during the age of the Arab Invasions.
Getting to Timgad
Timgad is about five hours from Algiers, which might explain why less people go there and go to Djemilla, three hours from Algiers. However, Timgad makes a nice day trip when connecting Algiers to Constantine. To get there, you’ll have to go by car.
What is there to see in Timgad
Amongst the sights worth seeing in Timgad are the latrines. The latrines of Timgad are very well kept and are a true testament to the ingenuity of the Romans. You can clearly see how the Romans were going along with their business in a sanitary and efficient way, with even a sewage system.
Another building worth stopping by is the library of Timgad. Donated by Julius Quintianus Flavius Rogatianus, the walls of the library are still standing and it is easy to imagine how the papyrus were stocked here, around the statue of Minerva, goddess of knowledge.
The theatre’s seats are still all there and if you stand in front of it and speak, you’ll be impressed by how developed the Romans acoustic engineering was, as the slightest whisper is augmented and audible due to the emplacement of the seats.
Finally, one can go to the site where the baths of the city were. There, it is still possible to visit what was the heating system, located under the baths themselves.
Leaving the site, you’ll want to stop by the museum, where incredible and humongous ceramic works of Timgad have been preserved. These enormous stone painting depict various scene of Roman mythology and are truly breath-taking.
On the way to or back from Timgad, be sure to stop by the Almadracen, a mysterious tomb, some could say the Berber answer to the Egyptian Pyramids, where no corpse or treasure were found. The tomb is still very well-kept and the mystery as to who was the tomb intended for or even who took the riches and the body has still to be elucidated.