The World In Stamps

A journey in a stamps collection

Constantine, the City of Hanging Bridges: Algeria before 1830

Constantine, known as “the City of Hanging Bridges,” is a historic city and the capital of the east of Algeria. It is located 431 km east of the capital Algiers, in the center of a fertile region at the crossroads of important paths. It is surrounded by the many cities such as  Sétif, Batna, Tébessa, Jijel,  Skikda and Annaba.  

Constantine is one of the world’s oldest cities. It is situated on a plateau at an elevation 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level. The city is framed by a deep ravine and has a dramatic appearance. The city is very picturesque with a number of bridges over Rhumel River and a viaduct crossing the ravine. The ravine is crossed by seven bridges, including Sidi M’Cid bridge. Since 2010, a cable car line with a total length of 2.3 km crosses the gorges of the Rhumel wadi. It connects the eastern and western parts of the city in eight minutes.

Constantine has a rich and diverse history, making it a popular tourist destination.


Constantine, the City of Bridges, before 1830
Stamp representing Constantine, the City of Hanging Bridges, before 1830.

The Phoenicians established the city and gave it the name Sewa (royal city). During the 3rd century B.C. the city was under the rule  of Gala (or Gaia) king of the Massylii tribes, of eastern Numidia and ally of the Carthaginian Republic. During the second Punic War, Syphax, the king of the Masaesyli tribe of west Numidia conquered the city. He then he made it his capital, under the new name of Cirta. Many famous berber kings ruled the city during the roman era, including Massinissa (238 – 148 B.C.) and Jugurtha (168-104 B.C.).

The city was completely destroyed in 311 AD . After rebuilding Cirta in 313 AD, the Romans named it “Colonia Constantiniana” or “Constantina”, in honor of Constantine the Great

The Islamic Era

The city of Constantine became part of the area known to the Islamic world as Ifriqiya after the early Islamic conquests in the eighth century. Under the early islamic rule the city enjoyed a certain level of independence until the ninth century. Then the city entered into the custody of the Zirid dynasty, then the Hammadid dynasty, the owners of Qal’at Bani Hammad and Bejaia. It became an important center for Islamic learning in the 10th century.

Since the thirteenth century, the city passed into the possession of the Hafsid state in Tunisia, and it remained in their hands until the entry of the Ottoman Turks.  In 1568 AD, the Dey Muhammad Salih Rais led a campaign against the city, and he was able to seize it without a fight.

Modern Times

When France invaded Algeria in 1830, Ahmed Bey ben Mohamed Sherif, also known as Ahmed Bey or Hadj Ahmed Bey was the Bey (Governor) of Constantine, in the Regency of Algiers. He organized a fierce resistance in the Constantine and its area. The city resisted several attacks by the French armies before falling in 1837 after an intense siege. The Bey retreated into the Aurès Mountains from where he continued to resist with some loyal tribes until 1848. After its occupation, the city and its region took part in many uprisings against the occupation until the outbreak of the modern Algerian revolution in 1954.

Today, Constantine is a bustling city with a population of over 450,000 people. It is the railhead of a prosperous and diverse agricultural area, and a centre of the grain trade and has flour mills. In addition the city has a tractor factory, and industries producing textiles, wool, linen and leather goods.

The capital of eastern Algeria is known for its cultural heritage, including its architecture, music, and cuisine. The city is home to several universities and is an important center for education and research. In 2015, the city was declared the Capital of Arab Culture.

Major Monuments

Constantine is home to several important historical and cultural monuments. The most famous of these is the Casbah, a fortified hilltop citadel that dates back to the 10th century. The Casbah is home to several important landmarks, including the Palace of Ahmed Bey, which was built in the 19th century and is now a museum.

Gardens of Palace of Ahmed Bey
Old painting showing a gallery in the Palace of Ahmed Bey

Another important landmark in the city is the Suspension Bridge, which was built in 1912 and spans the Rhumel River. The bridge is an important symbol of the city and is a popular destination for tourists.

The Tiddis Roman Ruins are another important historical site in Constantine. The ruins date back to the Roman period and include several well-preserved structures, including a theater, a basilica, and a market.


Constantine is a city with a rich and diverse history that is reflected in its architecture, music, and cuisine. It is a popular tourist destination that is known for its cultural heritage and historical monuments. The city is a testament to the resilience of the people of Algeria and their enduring commitment to preserving their cultural heritage.

Catalog reference: Yvert & Tellier 804

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights