Entrance of the museum.

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Sétif Museum

Top choice in Algeria

This central museum is one of the better museums in Algeria and it alone justifies a stop in Sétif. Displays are well laid out, lit and labelled (in French). There are cabinets filled with pottery and lamps from Roman Sétif, but the real stars are the mosaics in the ground floor central court, which are among the best you will see in Algeria.

One of these mosaics depicts the Triumph of Venus, a 4th- to 5th-century work showing the goddess sitting in a shell, naked but for her jewellery, surrounded by monsters and cherubs. The masterpiece, however, is the Triumph of Dionysos, the theme being a triumphal procession to celebrate the god’s conquest of India. All sorts of exotic and bizarre creature are here including tigers, elephants, camels, lion and the only known Roman period North African portrayal of a giraffe. Another section of the same mosaic, displayed nearby, shows a wild boar hunt. Both have an extraordinary subtlety, a stunning range of skin colour and tone, of muscle definition and facial expression.

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