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City Guide : Constantine
Constantine is a city founded in the northeastern part of Algeria, approximately 80 km inland from the Mediterranean coast. This settlement, right on the banks of Rhumel River, is situated on a plateau with an altitude of about 640 m. A deep valley surrounds Constantine. For this reason, numerous bridges are located in various parts of the city. The beautiful and dramatic appearance of the valley is one of the most significant images of Constantine.
The first known name of the historical city, dating back to the times Before Christ, is Cirta. Emerging as a Numidian settlement in the 200s BC, Constantine later fell under the rule of the Roman Empire. Upon being destroyed during the civil war between Emperor Maxentius and Domitius Alexander -the former governor of Africa- it was rebuilt in 313 AD. Thus, it took the name of Emperor Constantine the Great.
After falling under Arab rule in the 7th century, the city started to be known by the name of Qusantina. Gradually developing, Constantine transformed into a wealthy center doing business with Pisa, Genoa, and Venice in the 12th century. The Ruins of the Antonian Roman Aqueduct is worth seeing as what remains from that era, today. Soumma and Massinissa Mausoleums are also structures with a great number of visitors.
Being annexed to the Ottoman Empire from 1529, Constantine was ruled by an eastern bey who reported to the dey of Algiers. Salah Bey, who ruled Constantine between 1770 and 1792, can be seen in the significant public works he undertook and the important architectural works still adorning the city.
In 1826 Ahmed Bey, the last bey of the city, put up a forceful resistance against the French occupation forces. So much so that Constantine was the city that resisted the French for the longest time in Algeria. The city became a part of the French colony in Algeria in 1848.
The Palace of Ahmed Bey attracts quite a lot of attention from the tourists coming to see the city.
In World War II, the cities of Constantine and Setif right beside it were used as bases during the North African campaign of the Allied Forces, which began in 1942.
Culture & Entertainment
Museums, Public Squares, Historical Locations, Monuments
Musée National Cirta, formerly called Gustave Mercier Museum, is definitely the most important museum of the city. The structure built between 1920 and 1930 to display the Roman Era findings, has two storeys. Within the museum, focused on the three fields of Fine Arts, Ethnography, and Archaeology; there is also a garden. Archaeological artifacts are displayed in 12 rooms, arranged in chronological order. In the section dedicated to Fine Arts, on the other hand, there are artifacts selected from the time period between the 17th and 20th centuries. Traditional clothing, jewellery, rugs, and copper handicrafts are displayed in the ethnography section.
The city's cultural tradition is quite powerful. Algeria Astronomy Association and Al Jahidhiya Arabic Literary Association are the first institutions to come to mind in the city in this respect. Constantine is also a center of attraction in terms of religious studies. The University of Islamic Sciences within Emir Abdelkader Mosque is one of the largest institutions in Africa conducting research in this field. The mosque is located right at the center of the city.
Ben Badis Mosque keeps the memory of Abdelhamid Ben Badis, the Constantine-born symbolic figure of religious reform, alive. This Islamic scholar whose fame spread to the whole country, died in 1940 in the same city where he was born. Ben Badis Mosque is a religious structure that stands out not only because it is named after such an important person, but also with its architectural features.
Parks, Games, Events, and Natural Areas
The bridge in the city center is one of the famous seven bridges of Constantine. The structure, locally called “Gantaret El Hibal” is one of the highest suspension bridges on the face of the earth. The construction of the 174-meter-high bridge, the original name of which is Sidi-M'Cid, was started in 1909 and completed in 1912. The distance between the two ends of the valley is around 160 m. Additionally, there are three more bridges that provide transit through such a deep valley. El Kantara, Sidi Rached, and Mellah Slimane are the other high bridges you can see.
Ben Abdelmalik Stadium and Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui, located more to the south and near the university, are the two sports arenas of Constantine. The nature around Constantine is full of fertile agricultural lands. The region allows many kinds of agricultural production, primarily of grains.
Constantine In One Day
Among places to be seen in one day, the suspension bridges of the city should be put in first place. In order to see the depths of the valley and the unique scenery of Constantine, you may take an aerial railway ride. By all means, you should stop by the Gustave Mercier Museum in order to spend a day that is fulfilling from a cultural perspective.
City Tours And Transportation
In the city, you can go to many places with private vehicles or by walking. Another option for transportation in Constantine is the aerial railway system. You should opt for the aerial railway not only to get from one place to another; but also to catch unparalleled views.
Tiddis, the Numidian and Roman settlement located northwest of Constantine, can be seen. Here, the megalithic monuments are additionally interesting. Megalithic stones were put together, not with mortar but with the utilization of an interlocking system. Cave paintings and remains dating back to the 4th century BC will mesmerize you. The mausoleum built in the name of Quintus Lollius Urbicus -the Roman governor with a Berber heritage-is among what you can see in the archaeological area.
Food & Drink
As a large portion of the population is Muslim, great importance is attached to eating in accordance with Islamic rules in Constantine. Marketplaces, set up in various locations in the city, are the best areas to buy fresh food. Among the food being served at restaurants are tastes like kebabs, couscous, and baklava. Semolina is abundantly used in dishes and desserts. Coriander, olives, and parsley are used a lot. At the root of the cuisine in Algeria, like many North African countries, is lamb meat.
The historical region of the city of Constantine is known as Kasbah. The word was derived from the Hebrew word meaning market. However, in almost all of North Africa this word describes sometimes a palace and sometimes a city region surrounded by walls. This part of Constantine, full of historical structures, is a place where you can find various opportunities for shopping as well.
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Constantine : Airport Information
Mohammed Boudiaf International Airport
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Constantine : Airport Map Information
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|Monetary Unit||:||Algerian Dinar|