The Ancient Wonders of Tébessa
The ancient city of Tébessa is the capital city of the Algerian province of the same name and is situated about 20 kilometers from the Tunisian border. The city is home to more than 160,000 people and is famous for the manufacture of traditional Algerian carpets. Tébessa has a long and diverse history with many interesting sights for visitors to explore.
Tébessa started off as a town of Numidia, an ancient North African Berber kingdom. In the 7th century BC it became an outpost of Carthage and by 146 CE it had become part of the Roman Empire, becoming known by the name of Theveste. The flourishing city with an estimated 30,000 inhabitants was given the designation of collonia during the rule of Roman Emperor Trajan. Under the Ottoman Empire, which reached the zenith of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, Theveste was home to a garrison of Janizaries, infantry units of the sultan’s household bodyguard troops. In 1851 the city was occupied by the French and was given the current name of Tébessa.
In and around Tébessa are many monuments and remains of ancient buildings relating to the city’s past. The Gate of Caracalla is a Roman triumphal arch dating back to 214 CE. Free standing, ornately decorated triumphal arches were erected as a monument to celebrate a victory in war or in honor of their leader at the time of the victory.
The richly mosaic decorated Temple of Minerva in Tébessa dates back to the early part of the 3rd century CE. The remains of the basilica of St. Crispinus, complete with chapels, baptismal urns, gardens and catacombs, dates back to the 4th century CE. Sixth century Byzantine walls, which are referred to as “Solomon’s Walls”, are flanked by thirteen impressive square towers. Other places of interest include a Roman theater, an archaeological museum and an amphitheater from the 4th century CE.
Visitors to Algeria can easily include Tébessa in their itinerary as it is conveniently connected by road and rail to other parts of Algeria as well as neighboring Tunisia. Tourists are sure to spend many pleasurable hours exploring the historical treasures that this interesting Algerian city has to offer.