The Vital Heritage of Souk Ahras

The city of Souk Ahras, in Algeria, is the capital city of the Souk Ahras province and is located on the border of Algeria, and the neighboring Tunisia. It is a city that is home to a distinguished history and is associated with a famous figure, namely St Augustine of Hippo. The city is filled with the legacy of a settlement that once graced the site on which Souk Ahras was built, the remembrances of the Algerian War and the bravery of the people of Souk Ahras who weathered the storms to create a quaint but successful place they call home.

Before their complete extinction in 1930, Barbary lions once roamed freely in the dense forests surrounding the city. With the city being a well-known market place, also referred to as a souk, the city was christened Souk Ahras, meaning “Market of Lions”. Today the magnificent forests can still be enjoyed, and even without the majestic king of the forest walking around, the forests are home to many wildlife species and breathtaking birds.

Most people view the city merely as a stop en route to Tunisia, unaware of the heritage of the city. Long before the city was constructed, an ancient city by the name of Thagaste flourished here. And it is in this city, that St Augustine of Hippo was born in the year 354. He went on to serve the monastery in Thagaste, as did other well known men such as St Alypius, St Fermus and St Januarius. It is believed that the city of Thagaste was in existence until the year 600.

Historians suspect that life in Thagaste was much like Souk Ahras is now, bustling with markets selling leather, bread, wine and fruit, with the forests supplying them with needed building materials and wood for hand carved furniture. The city has grown into a vibrant industrial and agricultural centre, with cattle farming, mining and spectacular vineyards decorating the landscapes. For visitors who want to travel to Souk Ahras, there are a few noteworthy sites to visit, such as ancient Christian monuments and the basilica ruins that have been excavated.

Mining and the railway has brought an economic boost for the city and has supplied the city with adequate transport to move products. Even though the city has embraced change and modernization of its industries, it has managed to retain its friendly and small village atmosphere.