Ech Cheliff: A Fascinating Destination
During the Roman times, the Ech Cheliff Province of Algeria was named Castellum Tingitanum. It is located on the Cheliff River, assisting this great agriculture province with the natural resources it needs to function. It is a province that has suffered great tragedy, and yet it has still managed to create a bright future for its estimated population of two hundred thousand. Ech Cheliff is the capital city of the province and is where the story of Ech Cheliff begins. Looking at the city today, as well as the province, one cannot believe that only a few years ago it was almost destroyed.
For the French, the old Roman site was the ideal location to construct a military outpost in 1843, which they named Orleansville. It was also the reason that one of the oldest churches in Africa came to be located here. No-one could predict that in 1954, the first earthquake would strike Orleansville, and that it was only a taste of what was to come. Together with celebrating the independence of Algeria in 1964, the city also celebrated the birth of a new name – El Asnam. In 1980 disaster struck again, with a 7.3 earthquake hitting the city and surrounding areas, in which half the city was destroyed and approximately five thousand locals lost their lives. To distance the city and the province from this unthinkable tragedy, it was renamed for a last time to Ech Cheliff in 1981.
Today, visitors will still be able to visit what remains of the Castellum Tingiranum (roman citadel), referred to as Al Asnam. It is a fascinating site as it contains a staggering number of statues. It is also home to the world’s most ancient Christian labyrinths, Saint Reparatus. But mostly, visitors will see endless agricultural landscapes which include dairy farms, fruit orchards and fields filled with barley and wheat. The city is also known for its processing facilities and leather products. Ech Cheliff is easy to find and travel to, as it is a vital point on both the rail and road routes that run between Oran and Algiers.