Tell Atlas Town of Tiaret

With numerous megalithic monuments found in the province, Tiaret has a long history of being inhabited. The town of Tiaret is built on a site that was originally established as a Roman station or rest stop for traders, travelers and armies of ancient times. Located around 150 kilometers from the Mediterranean coastline southwest of Algiers, Tiaret is in the Tell Atlas region of the central highlands of Algeria. The name Tiaret means “station” in a local Berber dialect, no doubt a reference to the original purpose of its existence.

In addition to the beautiful mountainous terrain surrounding the town, Tiaret has some interesting archeological attractions in the town and nearby. One of the most notable of these is a series of thirteen Berber mausoleums known as the Jedars. These were erected by the Berber tribes who occupied the area following the fall of the Roman Empire. Located around 30 kilometers to the south of Tiaret, the Jedars were built from locally quarried limestone and sandstone, along with stones taken from abandoned settlements and burial grounds nearby. The structures are primarily dry-stone, with little lime mortar used, and the stone blocks used vary in size, shape and type. It is believed that the size and siting of the tombs indicate that they were built for royalty. Unfortunately, they have been plundered over the years; nonetheless this is an interesting archeological site to visit if in the town of Tiaret. Another site of historical significance is the “Ford of the Flat Stones” near the River Mina. As with many megalithic structures found in other parts of the world, little is known about this large group of monumental stones.

With its strategic position, Tiaret changed hands a number of times between the rule of the Romans and the arrival of the French in the 19th century, often with great bloodshed. While not particularly welcomed by the local Berber tribes, the French brought a measure of stability to Tiaret, as well as a measure of prosperity, erecting grand European-style buildings. Upon independence of Algeria in 1962 the majority of these pied noirs returned to their country of origin.

Tiaret has experienced rapid expansion since the early 1990s, with the population estimated to be almost 180,000 in 2008. With its favorable climate and ready supply of water, Tiaret’s economy has traditionally relied heavily on crop growing and the raising of livestock, with purebred Arabian horses being raised here. The town is easily accessible from other urban centers by means of both rail and road and is an interesting destination to visit in Algeria.