Haidra Roman Town

2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

This is well off the tourist beat and is a short distance from the Algerian border with ruins scattered across arid scenery. This is the start of the desert. The guide books describe it as a’lonely site and minimally excavated’. This is now out of date as work is being done to stabilise and restore parts of the ruins. The walls separating the stalls in the market area have been rebuilt and still look stark and new as they have not yet had time to weather into the scenery.

This is an old Berber settlement on the trade route between Algeria and Tunisia. It was settled by the Romans in 75AD to suppress a rebellion by the Numidians. The Arch of Septimus Severus at the start of the town survives from this period. When the legions left the area was settle by veterans and the town grew as it became an important trading centre until the arrival of the Arabs in the 7thC.

The site is dominated by the huge Byzantine Fort which was built in the 6thC and is claimed to be the largest in Africa. Its walls still stand 15m high and there are defensive towers built along the walls. There are several gateways into the fort. Inside is a jumbled mass of stones with the remains of a chapel and church on one of the side walls. We drove down to the river to take pictures of the fort and then returned to park on the main street as our driver was worried about leaving us alone as the local kids can be intimidating. Later we did walk down to one of the gateways by ourselves but realised a group of local kids loitering around the fort were approaching us. We weren’t sure how menacing they were but decided to retreat.

Just down from the fort is the ‘building with window’. All that is left is a wall with windows… Beyond are the remains of the cisterns.

Across the road from the Fort are the impressive remains of the Basillica of Melleus which is the largest church on the site built in the 4thC. There are still several pillars standing and carved stones lying on the floor There are inscriptions on some of the paving stones.

There is little left of the Capitol building behind it, just the steps and one pillar is left standing. Next to it the Market area has been partially restored. Behind are the remains of the baths. There are quite extensive remains and they are not in good condition.

What is described as the building with troughs is a short walk beyond. It has a huge building with a courtyard with pillars and a series of stone troughs (with a hole at the back) on a ledge below the arches. Their function is unknown and there is a suggestion they could have been used to store grain.

Behind is square stone Vandal’s Chapel with a few carved slabs lying on the floor. This is important as it is one of the few buildings from the Vandal era to survive.

The arch of Severus marks the start of the town and the remains of the paved road running through it are still visible. It had originally been a splendid carved structure but was covered by massive Byzantine masonry when a defensive wall was built round the town. Part of this has now been removed to expose the Roman work.

Below it near the river stand the remains of the Porticoed mausoleum which is built in the style of a small temple with four columns supporting the roof.

This site is very much off the tourist beat and a long way from anywhere. You have to want to come here. It is very much one for the Roman buffs as apart from the Byzantine Fort there is nothing you won’t have seen elsewhere. Rough Guide refers to the former French Customs Post being slowly renovated to become a museum. Work is still going on. There are no facilities on the site.

It can be done as day trip from El Kef, Sbeitla or Maktar with Jugurtha’s Table (see separate review).

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.