The ruins of Timgad in Algeria are an impressive set of ancient Roman remains and rank among the best such ruins in North Africa.
Founded by the Emperor Trajan in 100 AD, the settlement of Timgad, then known as Thamugas, was probably a base for the Third Augustan Legion.
Timgad was both a military colony and an incentive to the African people to serve in the Roman army, as anybody who did so for twenty-five years would have a home in the base. An interesting point to note about the ruins of Timgad is that all of the homes built there were similar in size, a sign of equality amongst Rome’s citizens. The original settlement was a perfect square, spanning an area measuring 355 square metres.
Timgad continued to grow throughout the second century and reached its zenith during the reign of Septimius Severus, from which most of the current buildings date.
Much of Timgad was damaged in the fifth century and, despite a brief Byzantine revival of the settlement under Justinian, it was finally destroyed during the seventh century Arab invasion and abandoned by the eighth century.
Today, the vast ruins of Timgad are a well preserved UNESCO World Heritage site. Amongst other things, visitors can view the remains of a stunning second century Trajan arch, a 3,500-capacity theatre, a forum and a series of fourteen bath complexes. There is even a library and the remains of temples and churches, the latter demonstrating the later prominent Christian presence in Timgad.
The ruins of Timgad have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.