Maghnia – Commercial Hub of Wadi Tafna
Formerly known as Marnia, the town of Maghnia is located in the Tlemcen Province of northwestern Algeria, just thirteen kilometers east of the border between Algeria and Morocco. One of Morocco’s most important road networks, the National Route 6 (more commonly referred to as the N6) connects Maghnia with major centers in Algeria’s neighboring country. Maghnia is the second largest and most important town in the province, with the town of Tlemcen being the capital and chief commercial center of the province.
Maghnia is named in honor of a local Muslim saint by the name of Lalla Maghnia. Her mausoleum, which was likely built in the 18th century, is located in Maghnia. While it is not certain how old the town is, archeological evidence suggests that prehistoric peoples occupied the area before being displaced by the Phoenicians. In 1836, the French army came across the ruined settlement which had apparently been an ancient Roman military post. According to inscriptions found at the time, the post had been occupied by a unit of Syrian archers referred to as numerous Syrorum, making it the westernmost outpost of the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis which had occupied parts of North Africa. The modern town of Maghnia was built around the defensive forts established by the French in 1844.
As Maghnia is located around half-way between Tlemcen and the Moroccan city of Fez, it has long been a marketplace for regional nomads. It also lies within the watershed of Wadi Tafna making it the commercial center for agriculture, with the main products being wool and cereal, as well as being the business center for the lead mine located at Bou Beker around thirty kilometers south of the town. As the last town on the main transport route between Algeria and Morocco, Maghnia is linked by road and rail to Oran, Tlemcen and Sidi Bell Abbes.
The mausoleum of Lalla Maghnia is the main historical attraction of the town, with the mineral spring of Hammam Boughrara located around ten kilometers out of town being a popular leisure destination. Notable people born in Maghnia include the first President of independent Algeria, Ahmed ben Bella, as well as prominent Algerian politician Sid Ahmed Ghozali.