Nestled in the heart of Algeria, Lambaesis is a city steeped in rich history and culture. Known for its Roman archaeological site, Lambaesis boasts a fascinating past that attracts history buffs and curious travelers from around the world. Located just 11 km southeast of Batna and 27 km west of Timgad, the city is easily accessible and a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient Roman history.
Founded by the Roman military, Lambaesis was home to the Legio III Augusta, a legion established between AD 123-129 during the time of Roman Emperor Hadrian. Latin was the official and commonly used language, even if the local Berbers spoke their own language mixed with Latinisms. III Augusta was disbanded by Gordian III, and the legionaries dispersed among the North African provinces. But the legion was restored in the AD 250s by Valerianus and Gallienus, and from then on, the legion was known as Augusta Restituta. Its final departure did not take place until after AD 392, and the town soon afterwards declined.
Despite its decline, the remains of the Roman town, and more especially of the Roman camp, are among the most interesting ruins in northern Africa. The ruins are situated on the lower terraces of the Aures Mountains, and consist of triumphal arches, temples, aqueducts, vestiges of an amphitheatre, baths and an immense quantity of masonry belonging to private houses. To the north and east lie extensive cemeteries with the stones standing in their original alignments; to the west is a similar area, from which, however, the stones have been largely removed for building the modern village. Of the temple of Aesculapius only one column is standing, though in the middle of the 19th century its façade was entire. The capitol or temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, which has been cleared of debris, has a portico with eight columns. On level ground about two-thirds of a mile from the center of the ancient town stands the camp, its site now partly occupied by the penitentiary and its gardens. It measures 1,640 feet (500 m) by 1,476 feet (450 m), and in the middle rise the ruins of a building commonly called, but incorrectly, the praetorium. This noble building, which dates from 268, is 92 feet (28 m) long by 66 feet (20 m) broad and 49 feet (15 m) high; its southern façade has a splendid peristyle half the height of the wall, consisting of a front row of massive Ionic columns and an engaged row of Corinthian pilasters.
But there is more to Lambaesis than its fascinating Roman ruins. The city is also home to a Latin Catholic titular bishopric, the former bishopric, and an episcopal see during late ancient times as part of the Roman province of Numidia. Though not mentioned in historical records, Lambaesis did not send a representative to the Council of Nicaea nor Chalcedon. On the other hand, it is mentioned by Saint Cyprian, who mentions a heretic bishop of Lambaesis who was condemned by a local synod of bishops around the year 240. The extinct diocese was nominally restored as a titular bishopric and has had several incumbents, including Cardinal Marian Jaworski, who served as Apostolic Administrator of Lviv (Ukraine) and later as Metropolitan Archbishop of the same Lviv.
Lambaesis may be a small city, but it packs a punch when it comes to tourism. The ruins of both city and camp have yielded many inscriptions, and though a very large proportion are epitaphs of the barest kind, the more important pieces supply an outline of the history of the place. Over 2,500 inscriptions relating to the camp have been deciphered, and in a museum in the village are objects of antiquity discovered in the vicinity. In addition to inscriptions and statues, there are some fine mosaics found in 1905 near the arch of Septimius Severus. The statues include those of Aesculapius and Hygieia, taken from the temple of Aesculapius. About 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Lambessa are the ruins of Markuna, the ancient Verecunda, including two triumphal arches.
For those interested in history, architecture, and archaeology, Lambaesis is a must-visit destination. Its fascinating past, combined with its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, make it a unique and unforgettable place to explore. So why not book your trip today and discover the treasures of this hidden gem for yourself?