Hammam Meskoutine Things to Do

  • Close-up on the draperies
    Close-up on the draperies
    by JLBG
  • Hot water collection
    Hot water collection
    by JLBG
  • Hot water collection
    Hot water collection
    by JLBG

Most Recent Things to Do in Hammam Meskoutine

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    The legend of Sidi-Arzaq part 1

    by JLBG Updated Oct 20, 2011

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    It is time to tell the whole story, or I should say the legend. Enlarge the first photo and read the legend of the place.

    Once upon a time, there lived here a powerful tribe. Sidi-Arzaq was the proudest and the boldest of all the tribe's men. He was wealthy and powerful but it was said that he did not do its five daily prayers. It was even whispered that during the holy month of the Ramadan, he did not wait sun dawn to have some food. Sidi-Arzaq had a sister (other versions of the legend say a niece), Yamenah, whose beauty was famous all around the country. Powerful cheikhs had proposed to marry her and offered plenty of gold and cattle as a dowry. Sidi-Arzaq had always declined these offers. The people were amazed of these denials until it appeared that he was in love with her and wanted to marry her. Good Muslims could not believe that this might occur and that there might be a Qhadi either enough ignorant or enough perverted to celebrate such a shocking union. But Sidi-Arzaq was wealthy and powerful. He offered so many presents and favors to so many people that he happened to find a dishonest judge to celebrate the marriage and enough witnesses to testimony.

    The first photo shows where the marriage took place. All the inhabitants of the village went away and stayed under their tents in order not to witness the crime. After a few days, as neither Sidi-Arzaq nor Yamenah, nor the qhadi, nor the witnesses had been seen again, a few curious came and peeped at the place where they were last seen. What they saw frightened them to death : the whole bridal procession was there, petrified forever. Look at the first photo, the two twined pyramids, one taller than the other are Sidi-Arzaq and Yamenah, clad in their thick "burnous". Behind them, standing alone, the qhadi.

    The bridal procession
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    The legend of Sidi-Arzaq part 2

    by JLBG Updated Jun 29, 2006

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    On the first photo, in the background, the witnesses.

    The second and the third photo show the whole bridal procession with the children in the background.

    The sacrilege incestuous bride, the dishonest qhadi, the unfaithful witnesses, the impious friends and relatives, they all have been turned to stone, accompanied by the rumblings of hell, heard from time to time from the ground, and surrounded by fumes of sulfur coming from the ground.

    The bridal procession The bridal procession The bridal procession
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    Hammam Meskoutine unimpressive first sight.

    by JLBG Updated Jun 29, 2006

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    Arriving in Hammam Meskoutine from the main road (N20) Annaba-Constantine is unimpressive. First of all, the road sign says Hammam Debbagh and not Hammam Meskoutine. Are we mistaking ? Our friend from Annaba must not be wrong as he has asked his way from locals, but is it WHAT he wanted us to visit (he has not said anything about the place !)

    The first photo (enlarge, please) shows the general sight with a dull plain without almost anything growing and in the background what looks like heaps of gravels !

    The second photo allows a closer look to these molehills and if you enlarge the photo, you will see that it is a kind of football field.

    It is also a playfield for children (third photo).

    The fourth photo shows what looks almost like an abandoned roadwork. Not really worth the visit, till now !
    On the last photo, a narrow channel (a gutter ?) stretches across the "roadwork". What is that ? Wow, the water is warm and even more than warm ! It is Friday (= Sunday in Algeria) and locals are relaxing, sat on the ground against one of the molehills.

    Hammam Meskoutine Hammam Meskoutine Hammam Meskoutine Hammam Meskoutine Hammam Meskoutine
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    Aquae Tibilitanae

    by JLBG Updated Dec 14, 2005

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    Hammam means "bath", then no wonder if the Romans had built here hot bath. It was then named Aquae Tibilitanae because it was close to the city of Tibilis (8 km south) built on the plateau of Ras-El-Akba. However, there does not remain much of it : these few stones should be all what is remaining from the Roman bath, unless there is more to unearth. In the village, we were told there was a small amphitheater but could not visit it.

    Aquae Tibilitanae
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    Carved names

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    If you enlarge the photo, you will see that names have been carved on the cliff and on the soil. That is what these girls are doing. As everywhere else, they are the names of people who came here and want the world to know, they also can be the names of two lovers. Amazingly, though they are all local names, they are all (at least nearly all) carved in Latin fonts. Why ? My hypothesis is that it is easier to carve with a mere stone Latin fonts that are mostly made of straight lines than Arabic fonts that have more curves ! Any opinion ?

    Carved names
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    Family photo

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    The man with the Polaroid camera proposed us to have a photo with the animals. As we told him that we had our own camera, he did not insist. He did not mind that we took pictures of the eagle and of the gazelle. I am sure that when there will be tourist coming to Hammam Meskoutine, they will have to pay, even to get close to the animals, not speaking of taking a photo !

    While we were there, several families of locals had a family photo taken, such as this one.

    Family photo
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    The desert gazelle

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    The dama gazelle (Gazella dama) lives in the northern par of the Sahara. It weighs 40 - 85 kg (90 - 190 lb). It stands 88 - 108 cm (34- 42") at the shoulder.. It lives 12 years. It can run as fast as 80 km/h for a few minutes. It is protected as it is an endangered species.

    The dama gazelle was once one of the most numerous and widespread of Saharan gazelles from Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania eastward to the Sudan. It experienced a significant decline during the 1950's through the 1970's. By the early 1980's it still occurred over the same general range but was extinct in most areas within its range, though perhaps still locally abundant in some places. The world population is now estimated less than 2500. It is now thought to occur in the wild only in Algeria, Chad, Mali, Niger, and Sudan. It has been re-introduced in Senegal.

    The gazelle shown on the photos is a young one, that seems to be between 6 month and less than a year.

    The desert gazelle The desert gazelle
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    Golden eagle

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    The eagle is really impressive. It is the Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos. It is now very rare in Western Europe, much less both in Eastern Europe and in the Maghreb. It can be 80 to 97 cm tall and its wingspan can be from 190 to 130 cm. With its powerful bill (enlarge the photo), it can kill and tear off prey weighting several kilos.

    Golden eagle
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    Animals from the desert

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    Enlarge the first photo. You will see that there is a man in a blue overall and with a Polaroid camera that owns an eagle, a "gazelle" from the desert and a "guerba" (a goatskin use to keep water for drinking.

    The second photo shows better the eagle with the guerba underneath.

    On the third photo, the photographer shows how the eagle can perch on the arm of someone for a photo.

    Animals from the desert Golden eagle Golden eagle
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    No foreign tourists but local visitors

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    Though there are no foreign tourists, there are some visitors. As I said, we visited Hammam Meskoutine on a Friday, which means that people were resting. Most visitors are obviously living in the village or in very neighboring places. Together with our Algerian friend, we came from Annaba (80 km) and I would not be surprised if we had been among those that came from the farthest !

    Local visitors
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    Close-up on the draperies

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    The two photos presented here are close-ups that wee shot in order to better show the variety of colors of the draperies.

    On the first photo, from left to right, you can see snow-white minerals, a part where it is various shades of chamois, with greenish colors in the bottom, because of the algae. There is a part in the middle, which is dark brown (manganese salts ?) while on the right, there is again a white part.

    The second photo shows that even inside a single color, there are many shades that differ only slightly. Enlarge the photo to see how delicate is the pattern of colors.

    Close-up on the draperies Close-up on the draperies
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    Colors of the concretions

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    The photo shows the various colors of the concretions. Most are white but some are colored in yellow or brown by inorganic salts and in the lower parts, when water has enough cooled down, algae can grow and give a green color.

    colors of the concretions
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    The draperies of Hammam Meskoutine

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    This series of photo were taken from the lower level and show fully the draperies of Hammam Meskoutine mineralized waterfall. The first photo gives a general view of the falls, with people walking on top, near the edge.

    On the second photo, you will see a few locals (not a single tourist around !) resting on benches as it was a Friday (= Sunday in Algeria).

    The third photo shows the cascade with steam escaping on top.

    The draperies of Hammam Meskoutine The draperies of Hammam Meskoutine The draperies of Hammam Meskoutine
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    General view

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    This photo was taken from the top level but a little further. It shows altogether the top level with its steamy gullies, the mineralized waterfall and the lower level, with people wandering. Again, the size of the people will give an idea of the height of the fall (you must enlarge the miniature).

    General view
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    Deposits

    by JLBG Written Dec 13, 2005

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    When water flows from one level to another, it builds a rim that keeps the water (first photo).

    The western side of the mineralized plateau ends abruptly. If you enlarge the second photo, you will see a man walking underneath. Its size will tell you how high it is (about 20 meters, I feel).

    The third photo shows a row of car parked at the feet of the mineralized waterfall.

    Deposits along the gullies Deposits along the gullies Deposits
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