The ruins of Timgad in Algeria are an impressive set of ancient Roman remains and rank among the best such ruins in North Africa. Today, the vast ruins of Timgad are a well preserved UNESCO World Heritage site and have been since 1982.
Founded by the Emperor Trajan in 100 AD, the settlement of Timgad, then known as Thamugas, was probably a base for the Third Augustan Legion.
Timgad was both a military colony and an incentive to the African people to serve in the Roman army, as anybody who did so for 25 years would have a home in the base. An interesting point to note about the ruins of Timgad is that all of the homes built there were similar in size, a sign of equality amongst Rome’s citizens. The original settlement was a perfect square, spanning an area measuring 355 square metres.
Timgad continued to grow throughout the 2nd century and reached its zenith during the reign of Septimius Severus, from which most of the current buildings date.
Much of Timgad was damaged in the 5th century and, despite a brief Byzantine revival of the settlement under Justinian, it was finally destroyed during the seventh century Arab invasion and abandoned by the 8th century.
Amongst other attractions, including the excellent example of Roman town planning, visitors can view the remains of a stunning second century Trajan arch, a 3,500-capacity theatre, a forum and a series of 14 bath complexes. There is even a library and the remains of temples and churches, the latter demonstrating the later prominent Christian presence in Timgad.
Getting to Timgad
Timgad is about 5 hours from Algiers, however it still makes a nice day trip when connecting Algiers to Constantine (which takes 2 hours). To get there you’ll have to go by car. From Tunis take the A1 to Constantine then the N79 to Timgad.