The Historic Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania

The Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania is sometimes referred to as the Mausoleum of Juba and Cleopatra Selene, and can be found on the road that lies between the cities of Algiers and Cherchell. The mausoleum is an ancient historical site that is of significant importance to Algeria and its history, as it is the final resting place of Juba II and Cleopatra Selene II, who were of the last king and queen of Mauretania. The mausoleum was constructed in 3 BCE.

Cleopatra Selene II was the daughter of Mark Antony, Roman Triumvir, and the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII. It is believed that Pomponius Mela, a Roman geographer of the first century, was referring to the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, when he described The Communal Mausoleum of the Royal Family. He was correct, as not only was the mausoleum erected for the king and queen of Mauretania but as a royal tomb for their descendants as well.

The mausoleum in Algeria looks like a carbon copy of the mausoleum constructed by Augustus, Roman Emperor, in Rome many years before Juba II left for Numidia, and it was a deliberate act, as it was a sign of allegiance of Juba II to the Roman Kingdom. The mausoleum was constructed according to ancient mausoleums and their architectural design originated from mausoleums found in Egypt and Anatolia. This means that the mausoleum is built from stone and has a circular base. The top of the mausoleum was either completed with a pyramid or cone. The base would also have been decorated with ionic columns, but due to vandalism over the centuries, they are not longer part of the mausoleum.

In 1982 the nearby archeological sites containing monuments from the Byzantine and the Phoenician ages, including the mausoleum, were recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Due to expansions of the city, the archeological ruins and the mausoleum are under constant threat of vandalism and deterioration, and in 2002 the site was placed on the World Heritage in Danger listing.