Tipasa, renowned for its Phoenician, Roman, early Christian, and Byzantine ruins, is a village located in Northern Algeria, on the Mediterranean coast, is located 65 km West of Algiers.
It offered a harbour and sheltered beaches and was settled by Phoenician sailors seeking anchorage as they travelled along North African coastal routes.
By the 1st century BC, the North African region in which Tipasa was located, had come under indirect Roman rule.
The Roman emperor Claudius granted Tipasa partial citizenship in 43 BC.
It became a colony (with full Roman citizenship) sometime within the next following 150 years.
Under Roman rule, the city acquired greater commercial and military importance because of its harbour and its central position on the system of Roman coastal roads in North Africa.
A wall of approximately 2,300 metres was built around the city for defence against nomadic tribes, and Roman public buildings and districts of houses were constructed within the enclosure.
Tipasa became an important centre of Christianity and the city saw the construction of a large number of Christian religious buildings in the later 3rd and 4th centuries.
Its fortifications did not prevent the city from being conquered by the Vandals about 429.
This ended the prosperity that the city had enjoyed during the Roman period.
In 484, during the persecution of the Catholic church by the Vandals, the Catholic bishop of Tipasa was expelled and replaced with an Arian bishop, prompting many inhabitants of the city to flee to Spain.
In the following decades the city fell into ruin.
Although some repairs were made following the Byzantine conquest of North Africa in the 6th century, Tipasa remained largely neglected until the modern village was founded in 1857.
Among Tipasa’s important archaeological sites are the pre-Roman necropolises, which contain a number of Phoenician tombs. Ruins from the Roman period include a forum, a curia, four thermal baths, and a theatre, as well as a Christian cemetery and a large Christian basilica with nine naves. To the east of Tipasa’s harbour are ruins of two more Christian basilicas and a cemetery.
Since 2002, it has been declared by UNESCO a “World Heritage Site”.
At the place where Camus liked to admire the scenery, a simple stele makes him a vibrant tribute.
« Je comprends ici ce qu’on appelle gloire : le droit d’aimer sans mesure.».
“I understand here what is called glory: the right to love without measure”.
Sahli Djelloul is a woodcarver, native of Tipasa.
He is in his sixties, and since the age of 15, he likes to work with wood.
The tree is a dead olive tree, desiccated but still anchored in the ground!
His work consists first of all in observing the tree and carving it in the ground, respecting its original shape. Faces, animals, beautiful figures are linked, each giving place to the other throughout the tree.
For example, a root will take the form of a snake crawling on the ground.
It gives life to trees, beauty, and utility to be contemplated again.
A very big thank you to Fouzi, Malika, Karim, Mounia, Nourredine, Karima, Hafid, Fati, Nersrine and Wassila, and their families, to make me discover their amazing country.
I’ll be back !