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If Morocco sounds more like a touristy destination, then Algeria on the other hand is a less-traveled country that has garnered bad publicity, thanks to mainstream media, but also the painstaking visa process, which might put a traveler off. Yet, those who have a real thirst to explore this largest country in Africa will have lots of surprises and interesting stories in store. As per the U.S. News & World Report in 2018, Algeria is ranked among the top 80 countries in the world for its heritage, possibility of adventures, and businesses. Now popular YouTubers are traveling to places like Algeria to break the stereotypical views that we don’t really get to see.

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What makes Algeria truly stunning and unique is its vast land which is unspoiled and loaded with history. It is bordered by the blue Mediterranean Sea from the north, Tunisia from the east, Morocco from the west, and Niger from the south. Its strategic location has attracted many ancient conquerors in the past. There were the Numidians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Umayyad Arabs, Ottomans, and the French colonial empire who once came here to settle. These ancient conquerors influenced the history of the region, and today one can see the reflection of the past through the Algerian traditions, cuisine, and architecture. Here is our compiled list of lesser-known historical places in Algeria that are truly epic.

Pyramids of Fredda - Tiaret

We all know about the famous Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, but Algeria has its own version of pyramids as well. The enigmatic pyramids of Fredda are tucked 155 miles southwest of Algiers on the hills of Fredda close to Tiaret city. There are about 13 of them, and they are locally called ‘Jeddars’ which means walls. These pyramids have been designed with square bases, and at their top, there are angular mounds. Archeologists have claimed that they might be dated between the 4th and 7th centuries. It is generally believed that these pyramids were the final resting place of the Berber royal families. Each of the pyramids has at least one room, and the largest one has up to 20 compartments which include many funerary chambers. In addition, archeologists have discovered a dedicated chamber with benches, which might have been used for praying. One can still see the ancient symbols and animal figures carved above the doors inside the tombs. Interestingly, these pyramids share close resemblances to the smaller Berber tombs called ‘bazinas’ found in the pre-Sahara zone.

Related: Best Places To Visit In The Sahara & When

Ruins of Timgad - The Pompeii of Algeria

In 100 AD right at the beautiful Aures Mountains some 22 miles east of Batna, there was once a flourishing Roman military colony built by the emperor Trajan. This exquisite site today has become a ruin, where one can still witness the grandeur of Roman architecture at that time. From its iconic 12-meter-high triumphal arch known as the Arch of Trajan to the 3,500-seat theater and four thermae, the ruins of Timgad remind us of Pompeii. Emperor Trajan constructed this fortress against the Berbers who lived in the Aures Mountains. At one point the colony was populated with some 10,000 Roman veterans, Berber descendants, and African residents. It was attacked in two instances, primarily in the 5th century by the Vandals and then in the 7th century by the Berbers.

Ghardaia -Mzab Valley

Everything about Ghardaia is magical. Its striking landscape, think verdant palm groves of El-Atteuf, honey-colored walls, traditional houses, and right in the middle a pyramid-styled mosque-all of which make this place unique. Nestled in the north-central part of Algeria, about 373 miles from Algiers (the capital of Algeria), Ghardaia is a hilltop city built about 1000 years ago in the M’Zab valley by the Mozabites (the Ibadi sect). The Mozabite people are an Amazigh (Berber) ethnic group who live in the northern part of the Sahara desert in Algeria.

This World Heritage Site is an ancient fortified city that has been taken as an inspiration for contemporary urban planning in Algeria. Simply stroll along the cobblestone paths at the main market and travel back in time. Check out the local handicrafts, spices, and traditional clothes. And of course, don’t leave the place without taking a tour of the UNESCO-listed Kasbah (citadel).

Related: Volubilis: Why The Marks Of Ancient Rome In Morocco Are Worth Seeing

Tassili n’Ajjer - South of Algeria

Tassili n’Ajjer is Algeria’s most surreal national park located within the southern borders. This 28,000 sq mi of open-air museum has a huge collection of more than 15,000 prehistoric carvings and paintings that are recognized as important to world history. These cave paintings are mysterious. It was first discovered by Henri Lohte, a French ethnographer who visited the Tassilli caves in the late 1950s. Some paintings include the Tassili mushroom figure Matalem-Amazar, where visitors can see a shaman adorned with mushrooms. It is believed that the prehistoric carvings date back to the Neolithic period, which is grouped into a chronological timeline starting with the wild fauna period (10,000-6,000 BC), round-head period (8000 - 6000 BC), the horse period (1000 BC-AD 1), and the camel period (200 BC to present). This vast desert land was initially a lush green area inhabited by wild animals such as antelopes, elephants, and giraffes.