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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Algeria: Authentic, Beguiling, Captivating - Page 3

Written by Yong Chee Weng
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Dyed wool

Used for making hand-woven carpets, a speciality of the Mozabites.


Constantine – Set precariously on the 175m gorge of Rhumel River, former capital of the Numidians

Located on Algeria’s north-eastern end, Constantine serves as a good base to visit the many Roman ruins in this region. Visitors can get here by internal flight from Algiers (€35/$49) or direct from France. Algeria played an integral role in the Roman Empire, supplying grain, gold, olives, slaves and even wild animals for the amphitheaters. Its archaeological discoveries can be found in many museums around Europe, including the Louvre.


Constantine“Having seen Roman ruins across Italy and Spain, I wasn’t too keen to see more. But I was wonderfully surprised when I saw entire Roman towns laid out before me. I could really sense and imagine myself going back 1,700yrs because everything is in its original condition, not restored. Perhaps not so pretty to some, but you can’t beat its authenticity,” said a tourist.


Two gems you should discover here are Timgad and Djemila, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, described as one of the most perfect expressions of Roman colonisation power and African beauty.

Constantine’s old Ottoman-influenced town itself is a wonderful place to discover on foot. Crossing some of the suspended bridges on foot will offer you breathtaking views, provided your legs don’t go wobbly. For lack of space, homes were built right to the edge of the gorge. In springtime, the slopes are covered with colorful wild flowers, adding to the magical feel.






Mellah Slimane Bridge

100m above the Rhumel River, feel it sway as you walk across.





In Short


Constantine EndarticleFor a country so diverse geographically, culturally, and historically, yet relatively untouched by globalisation, Algeria is definitely a jewel to be discovered. To sum it up in three words: Authentic, Beguiling, and Captivating.


Traveling Tips

Take a local tour to fully enjoy Algeria. They’re inexpensive and will save you a lot of problems with language (English isn’t used, only a minority speak French in major cities, and the majority speak Algerian Arabic and local Berber dialects). My Unique Holidays provides English / French-guided tours of Algeria

Practical Information

Flights into Algeria include Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways.

Recommended local hotels in Algiers include Hotel Albert 1, Hotel Suisse and Hotel Samir.

Further reading Lonely Planet: Algeria

©Yong Chee Weng




Casbah artisan

Traditional artisans continue to plough their trade in the centuries-old homes of the Casbah, like this copper artisan. Faithfully hand crafting his copperware, this is the only trade he has known for the last 40 years.




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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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