Cultural Algeria Arab States Commune And Wilaya (province) Of Tipasa

Tipasa comprises a unique group of Phoenician, Roman, palaeo-Christian and Byzantine ruins alongside indigenous monuments such as the Kbor er Roumia, the great royal mausoleum of Mauritania.

The site of Tipasa, on the Mediterranean coast 70 km west of Algiers, brings together one of the most extraordinary archaeological complexes of the Maghreb;it is perhaps the one that is most significant to the study of the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and various waves of colonization from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. This coastal city was first a Carthaginian trading centre, whose cemetery is one of the most extensive of the Phoenician world (6th-2nd centuries BC). It was then conquered by the Romans who used it as a base from which to conquer the Mauritanian kingdoms.

The oldest Roman settlement is located in the centre of the city on a steep slope protected by cliffs and by a rudimentary defensive wall. In AD 147, at the time of the war undertaken by Antoninus Pius against the Mauritanians, this modest settlement was enclosed by a wall, 2,300 m in length. This rampart, which is flanked by square and circular towers, includes three main entrances, two of which are protected by semi-circular fortified defensive works comparable with those found in Gaul and Germany. Within this enclosure there are important buildings situated both in the original core of the city and in its new quarters: the forum, the curia, the capitolium, two temples, an amphitheatre, a nymphaeum, a theatre and baths.

The impressive ruins of the civic buildings are set in the heart of a dense network of private houses (many decorated with paintings and mosaics), commercial warehouses, and industrial establishments of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Christianity was established in the city in the second half of the 3rd century(Tipasa later became a bishopric) and there are numerous Christian religious buildings. The immense 4th-century seven-aisled basilica, the central aisle of which was later subdivided, and a baptistry based on a circular plan, were located intra muros to the west on the hill of Ras Knissia.

Beyond the enceinte, a vast Christian cemetery spreads out around a funerary chapel which Bishop Alexander constructed as a resting place for his predecessor. Across to the east are the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, and on the hill of St Salsa are to be found the tomb and the church dedicated to this martyr, which became the object of a pilgrimage around which another cemetery developed.

The Vandal invasion of the 430s did not mark the definitive end of Tipasa's prosperity, but although the city was reconquered by the Byzantines in 534, it fell into a decline in the 6th century from which it never recovered.