The site of Djémila is located 50 km north-east of the town of Sétif. Known under its antique name Cuicul, Djémila is an establishment of an ancient Roman colony founded during the reign of Nerva (96 – 98 A.D.). One of the world’s most beautiful Roman ruins, this Roman town occupied a singular defensive position. Cuicul is one of the flowers of Roman architecture in North Africa. Remarkably adapted to the constraints of the mountainous site, on a rocky spur which spreads at an altitude of 900 m above sea-level, between the wadi Guergour and the wadi Betame, two mountain torrents, the town has its own Senate and Forum.
Around the beginning of the 3rd century, it expanded beyond its ramparts with the creation of the Septimius Severus Temple, the Arch of Caracalla, the market of Cosinus brothers and the civil basilica. The site has also been marked by Christianity in the form of several cult buildings: a cathedral, a church and its baptistry are considered among the biggest of the Paleo-christian period.
The site comprises a very diversified typological and architectural repertoire with a defensive system and Arch of Triumph, public convenience and theatre buildings, facilities for crafts and commerce, including the market that constitutes remarkable evidence of economic prosperity of the city. These attributes comprise among others, the classic formula of Roman urban planning with two gates located at each end of the Cardo Maximus; in the centre, is the Forum surrounded by buildings essential to the functioning of public life: the Capitoleum, the Curia, a civil basilica, the Basilica Julia. The vestiges of the Temple of Venus Genitrix and aristocratic residences richly decorated with mosaics are also visible. Vestiges of monuments that have marked the expansion of the city to the south are also included. They comprise private dwellings and public buildings such as the Arch of Caracalla (216), the Temple of Gens Septimia (229), a theatre with a capacity of 3,000 places, baths, basilicas and other cult buildings. The site of Djémila comprises an impressive collection of mosaic pavings, illustrating mythological tales and scenes of daily life.
In this instance, the classic formula of Roman urban planning has been adapted to the geophysical constraints of the site. Djemila is an outstanding example of well integrated Roman town planning adapted to a surrounding mountain location, filled with archaeological vestiges such as forum, temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and houses. It bears true and credible testimony to Roman town components such as the classic plan of the Roman town and urban fabric, and architecture such as construction methods (roads, gates, aqueduct, colonnaded temple, theatre, etc.), decoration (bas-reliefs, borders and pediments, capitals of columns, mosaics etc.) and construction material (stone, mosaic, ceramics, etc). These types of architectural ensemble illustrates a significant stage in Roman history of North Africa, from the 2nd to the 6th centuries. It bears exceptional testimony to a civilization which has disappeared.