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  • Discover Constantine

Guelma

Around a 100 km away from Constantine and will be your road if Tunisia is your next destination, guelma isn’t really the big city but it definitely has something to offer, for instance and if you are following the story of ancient Algeria and still have an appetite for ruins, then you will want to stop at there.

This small agricultural city, 65km southwest of Annaba, 100km northeast of Constantine, sat near the frontier of ancient Numidia and Proconsul Africa. The town’s early history is something of an enigma, but it is known that the Roman army was defeated near here by Jugurtha in 109 BC. By the time of Trajan, Guelma (or Calama as itwas known) was a Roman municipality and in AD 283 became a colony. St Augustine’s biographer Possidius lived here before the Vandal invasion of 437. In 533 the Byzantines retook the town and made it one of their North African strongholds, but with the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century Guelma sank into obscurity.

The modern town is a sleepy, provincial place with little to show for its illustrious past. Walking along the main street, blvd1 Novembre, you would be forgiven for missing it, while finding most of what a traveler needs in the way of banks, hotels, restaurant and taxi-phones. The rue 8May 1945, just beyond the central Hôtel laCouronne, leads to the jardinarcheologique where columns and statues have been arranged in a garden. Beyond lies the theater and museum Most of the ancient theatre was quarried over the centuries, so what stands today a soaring backdrop, an imposing stage and rows of seating dates back no further than 1902, when the French archaeologist M Joly began the reconstruction. The site is impressive though, as are the statues of Neptune and Aesclepius on stage, and a mosaic of the triumph of Venus in the right hand side chamber. But Guelma’s most celebrated sculpture is the so called schoolboy of Madaure’, supposedly a representation of St Augustine as a child.

Guelma is also famous for its Hammam, people come from everywhere to spend a couple of hours of their weekend relaxing in the sulfuric organic waters, which presumably is very healthy and fixes many skin and breathing problems, and of course finishing it with a massage getting ready for another productive week.