Aures Mountains, Algeria — Built by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, the ancient ruins of Timgad serves as one of the best examples of Roman city planning and architecture. Its design is laid out in a precise grid comparable to any modern city anywhere in the world today. The city was first founded as a military colony by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. And its first residents were veterans of the Roman Army who were granted lands in return for their years of honorable service.
For the next 400 years since its founding, the city of Timgad enjoyed a peaceful existence. Its prime location gave the Roman Empire a strategic military and economic advantage in the region. They controlled access to and from the Sahara desert, deciding who could enter and exit. In the 5th century, the city was invaded by the Vandals and eventually sacked by the Berbers, and this began Timgad’s spiral into decline.
Timgad was revived by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who built a military fortress around the city. But this eventually proved to be ineffective, and the city was once again sacked in the 7th century during the Arab invasion. In the 8th century, Timgad was finally abandoned and left to decline.
Hundreds of years passed, and nature began to take its toll. The sands from the Sahara desert slowly buried the city until it was completely hidden from view. And it wasn’t until 1881 that Timgad was rediscovered and excavated from the sand tomb that preserved its very existence.