Tipasa, as it was then called, was an ancient Punic trading-post conquered by Ancient Rome and turned into a military colony by the emperor Claudius for the conquest of the kingdoms of Mauretania.
The modern town, founded in 1857, is remarkable chiefly for its sandy beach, and ancient ruins. The Roman city was built on three small hills which overlooked the sea, nearly 20 km. east from Caesarea (capital of Mauretania Caesariensis).
Of the houses, most of which stood on the central hill, no traces remain; but there are ruins of three churches, the Great Basilica and the Basilica Alexander on the western hill, and the Basilica of St Salsa on the eastern hill, two cemeteries, the baths, theatre, amphitheatre and nymphaeum.
The line of the ramparts can be distinctly traced and at the foot of the eastern hill the remains of the ancient harbour. A wall of approximately 7,500 feet (2,300 metres) was built around the city for defense against nomadic tribes, and Roman public buildings and districts of houses were constructed within the enclosure.
Tipasa became an important centre of Christianity in the 3rd century. The first Christian inscription in Tipasa dates to 238, and the city saw the construction of a large number of Christian religious buildings in the later 3rd and 4th centuries.
About 372 Tipasa withstood an assault by Firmus, the leader of a Berber rebellion that had overrun the nearby cities of Caesarea (modern Cherchell) and Icosium (modern Algiers). Tipasa then served as the base for the Roman counter-campaign.
In 1857 was settled again the area, with the creation of the city of Tipaza that now has nearly 30,000 inhabitants. Near Tipaza, there is Tipaza long wave transmitter, a facility for broadcasting a French speaking program on the long wave frequency 252 kHz, which can be well received in many parts of Europe.
The archaeological site of Tipasa regroups one of the most extraordinary archaeological complexes of the Maghreb, and perhaps one which is most significant to the study of the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and the different waves of colonization from the 6th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D.
This coastal city was first a Carthaginian trading centre, whose necropolis is one of the oldest and one of the most extensive of the Punic world (6th to 2nd century B.C.). During this period, Tipasa played the role of a maritime port of call, a place for commercial exchanges with the indigenous population.
Numerous necropolis testify to the very varied types of burial and funerary practices that bear witness to the multicultural exchange of influences dating back to proto-historic times.
The impressive ruins of the civic buildings are set in the heart of a dense network of private houses (many decorated with paintings and mosaics), commercial warehouses, and industrial establishments of the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Christianity was established in the city in the second half of the 3rd century (Tipasa later became a bishopric) and there are numerous Christian religious buildings. Walking through the ruins is a rare opportunity to travel through different stages in the history of Algeria, and if visitors are able to speak to a few locals, they will learn about a variety of folklores and legends that are connected to the city.