An exceptional trip to Bani Hammad Castle in Algeria … a forgotten and hidden civilization and history

The road was not easy at all to the “Bechara” area, which is about 30 km from the city of M’sila, the center of an Algerian governor located in the east of the country, 225 km from Algiers. Wheat and barley are among its most important agricultural crops, in addition to many varieties of fruits such as apricots and pomegranates. It is also known for raising sheep.

When I thought about visiting this region, it was strange to me, because I am a fan of green pastures, rivers, seas and mountain slopes, but the joy of discovery and the instinct of curiosity spurred me to the most important archaeological evidence in the Maghreb, the Algerian castle of Bani Hammad, which in 2007 celebrated the millennial anniversary of its construction, which is considered the capital of the second country in Central Maghreb (Algeria) after the Rustumiya- state.

Our journey there began from the town of “Haraoua” (the eastern suburb of the Algerian capital), at dawn and before the scorching summer sun rises behind the twilight. We took all the food we needed to meet our needs during our trip to Qal’at Bani Hammad.

The testimonies and statements of historians reveal that the choice of this place to be the capital of the Hammadid state was not accidental, but was chosen on the basis of important safety data, especially the strategic location of the citadel, which is close to the famous ” Hamza was not located. ”Mark.

The road to this small town was not easy, for the journey was on a severe and catastrophic July day, and it took about six full hours’ walk, through Bouira and Boumerdes, to the province of Bordj Bou Arreridj, whose restaurants “Alisher” known for frying sheep’s heads welcomed us with warmth and pleasure.

The further we walk, the more difficult the journey becomes, as temperatures in this area reach record levels in the summer.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing that has caught our attention since we set foot in this city is those mountains that appear from afar, embrace the clouds and paint a painting that writers and painters cannot imitate, as it is surrounded by ‘ a mountain belt in the form of an arch from the “Auras” region and the “Belzma” chain from the east to the “Wenoga” mountains In the west, through the mountains of Boutaleb and Al-Ma’adid, which a geographical boundary between the hilly Mediterranean forms areas and the steppe and desert plains of Hodna and Zayban.

It fascinates us, especially with sunset, attracts us and makes us feel close to it, but the closer we get, the farther it comes from us, and we strive to reach its peaks that boast its breathtaking beauty.

We rested in the middle of a long, empty road on its thrones, the most important feature of which was the green spaces stretched out at its sides, to continue our way to the castle, and we reached it about two o’clock in the afternoon.

At the beginning of the trip I could not adapt to the harsh climate, but when I saw the castle, which was built in the period between 398/399 AH and 1007/1008 AD, at the foot of mountain “Al-Ma” .adid “in the middle of a difficult mountain range characterized by its hard rocks and rough paths, that pessimism has disappeared, and I am attracted by the love of exploration and adventure. to continue the journey.

Historical Testimonies

Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun, one of the scholars of whom Islamic civilization is proud, provided us with abundant information on the history of this fortress, whose name goes back to Hammad ibn Belkin (Balqin) ibn Ziri ibn Manad, who was independent in the Central Mahreb from the Zirid state that began in the year 405 AH, to conflict with his brother Al-Mansur – Badis bin Belkin – and then his son Al-Muizz bin Badis.

The castle is built on an important strategic site, as it is protected from the north by Mount Taqarst, which is about 1418 meters high, and from the west it is protected by Mount Qurain (1,190 meters), and it is surrounded from the east. through a vast valley that forms a natural “wall” for this city. As for the south, the only path leading to the castle is a winding path that follows Wadi Faraj.

The Bani Hammad citadel, located on the northern border of the “Hodna” plains, is characterized by its important strategic location. It is protected from the north by Mount Takarst, which is 1418 meters high, and from the west down by Mount Qurain. (1,190 meters), surrounded by a valley from the east, of which the strait forms a natural wall for the city.

As for the south, the only road leading to the castle is a curved fold that follows Wadi Faraj. Therefore, Ibn al-Atheer was accurate when he described it as: “One of the most fortified and tallest castles.

The testimonies and statements of historians reveal that the choice of this place to be the capital of the Hammadid state was not accidental, but was chosen on the basis of important safety data, especially the strategic location of the citadel, which is close to the famous ” Hamza was not located. Market. Coexistence and cohesion between all sects and different races.

It is mentioned in the book “Insight into Ajaab Al-Amsar” (a book that combines the style of roads, kingdoms and travel literature), that the castle includes large and tall buildings and impassable palaces, elegantly built, high in scenes, and the most prominent of what was known for livestock farming, industry and commercial activities.

Among the testimonies we also find the testimony that the traveler and geographer al-Idrisi wrote in “Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi takhruq al-Afaq” when he passed by the castle of Bani Hammad. Its grain is cheap, its flesh is good and fat, and it is in the support of a high mountain that it is difficult to climb.

Neglect

According to historical information and even the stories circulating among the people of this region, Hammad bin Belkin did everything in his power to make Bani Hammad Castle a destination for science and scholars and a beacon for poetry and poets. What has actually been achieved, like the castle has become the home of many scholars, such as the learned poet Abi al-Fadl Ibn al-Nahwi and the Jewish scholar Abd al-Rahim Ibn Ishaq Ibn al-Majlun al-Fassi.

The most prominent thing that caught our attention was the great decline that the Bani Hammad castle witnessed, due to natural and even human factors, despite the classification of the castle by UNESCO in 1980 among the important sites to be cared for. word.

Among the most prominent monuments that are still prominent today is the castle built in the middle of hills that turn brown, especially in summer, and it is very difficult to penetrate.The first is called Al-Manar, the second is called the Sea Palace, the third is Al-Salam, and the fourth is Al-Najma Palace. At the top stretches the heart of the city, with the Sea Palace, the Grand Mosque and the Hammamet. As for the southern part, a large part of it has been allocated to the markets.

Perhaps the most prominent thing that has caught our attention is the great decline that the Bani Hammad castle is witnessing, due to natural and even human factors, despite the classification of the castle by UNESCO in 1980 among the important sites cared for. to be added, to be added to the list of archaeological sites that have been neglected, such as the ancient Kasbah neighborhood in Algiers, and the Turkish fortress built by the Ottomans in 1661 at an important strategic location in the “Burj El Kifan “area (the eastern suburb of the Algerian capital).

According to statements made by the representative of the Qal’at Bani Hammad court in 2007 on the occasion of the celebration of the thousandth anniversary, only 20% of its antiquities have been discovered, and the remaining 70% are still secrets and treasures buried underground is. Only one excavation is organized by Algerian doctor and author Rachid Bourouiba, who has written several books, including “The Hammadid State: Its History and Civilization”.

This book represents an important reference for researchers of historical sciences in particular, archeology, geography and most of the disciplines of the humanities in general. Ministry of Information funded. and Culture in Algeria during that period.

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