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Introducing Tlemcen

Of all Algerian towns and cities, only Tlemcen boasts Moorish buildings to rival those in Morocco or Andalusia. The Romans recognised its strategic and economic importance and built a stronghold, Pomaria, here during the reign of Septimus Severus, but nothing remains of the classical town. In the 8th century Idriss I built a new town, which he called Agadir. Tlemcen grew in importance under Almoravid ruler Youssef ben Tachfine, who moved his capital here; for centuries it was one of the centres of power in the Mahgreb. In the first half of the 14th century the Merinid sultan Abou Yacoub besieged the town for so long that his camp, Mansourah, became a town in itself. During the colonial period Tlemcen held off the French for more than 10 years and always had a strong anticolonial movement. Algeria’s first independence movement was founded by a Tlemceni in 1924. Today, easy-going Tlemcen, known as ‘the town of cherries’, is a pleasure to visit. It also has a vision: Algeria’s largest university campus is currently being built by a Chinese contractor.