A bus-ride from Algiers takes you to Tipaza, and from the bus stop, it is a short walk to the small museum. It has some finds of the Roman city, like mosaics and statues, and is good to warm you up for what is coming. Once you get to the entrance of the archeological site, there is a sign saying that no pictures can be taken, which seems strange for an open-air space. Right behind the entrance is the oval-shaped amphitheatre, or rather, the ruins that are left of it. Tipaza is not big, and I am at the crossroads of the Decumanus Maximus and the Cardo Maximus before I know it. Here, I find an anonymous and the new temple. I follow the Cardo Maximus until I reach the sea. After having spent a while in the interior of the country, it is good to see the sea again, and to hear the soothing sound of waves crashing on the rocky coast.
Right here, at the edge of the old city of Tipaza, is the Villa of Frescoes. Once a large house, it now lies in ruins, but when you look a little bit closer, you soon find all kinds of interesting details. There is even a large square floor which is still covered in mosaics. There are flowers, too, and views of the west part of Tipaza. Plenty of locals come here to have their picture taken, and I can see why. From here, I walk between the pine trees, to the ruins of the baths. Here, too, I find remains of mosaics. Ah, to be able to see what these baths must once have looked like! Now, it comes to your imagination, but I am sure that reality must have been splendid, judging from the mosaics, the columns, the rooms, and the ingenuous system to offer cold, tepid, and warm water to bath in. Alas, the Vandals destroyed Tipaza, and after the Byzantines rebuilt the city, the Arabs destroyed it again.
When I reach the intersection of the two main streets again, I walk towards the Nymphaeum, and continue to the theatre. Even here, in this remote corner of Tipaza, two guys are sitting; Tipaza is clearly within easy reach from the capital, and I think back to Djemila, where I was one of the very few visitors. The theatre is surprisingly small, and shady, and after having a look around, I move on towards the Great Christian Basilica. This, then, must have been a big building. Some of the arches are still standing, and you can easily make out the basic plan, with aisles, of the church. Here, too, some impressive mosaics. Moreover, since it is a little higher up, there are good views over the Villa of Frescoes and the coastline and pine tree woods in which Tipaza lies. Even though it is half an hour before closing time, guards start to urge me to return, but I take my time, walk back to the Villa of Frescoes, and up towards the Forum. There is not much more than a square platform; most of the place has disappeared, the materials probably used for other, newer constructions. I find a path down to a road, and walk back towards the eastern site of Tipaza. Even though it is officially closed, the guard lets me in, and I explore the extensive cemetery and basilica, before someone tells me it is time to go. The last direct bus back to Algiers has already left, so I take one to a town in between, and take another bus back to the bustling capital, leaving an important and lovely example of the Roman history of the country behind me.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tipaza (Algeria). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tipaza. Read more about this site.