1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tipasa

TIPASA. (1) A town and commune on the coast of Algeria, in the department of Algiers, 30 m. W. of the capital. Pop. of the commune (1906), 2725. The modern town, founded in 1857, is remarkable chiefly for its pleasant situation and sandy beach. The road stead is exposed to the N.E. and N.W. There is a mole about 90 ft. long and anchorage in six fathoms. A considerable trade is done. The Roman city of Tipasa was built on three small hills which overlooked the sea. 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. The basilicas are surrounded by cemeteries, which are full of coffins, all of stone and covered with mosaics. The basilica of St Salsa, which has been excavated by S. Gsell, consists of a nave and two aisles, and still contains a mosaic. The Great Basilica served for centuries as a quarry, but it is still possible to make out the plan of the building, which was divided into seven aisles. Under the foundations of the church are tombs hewn out of the solid rock. Of these one is circular, with a diameter of 60 ft. and space for 24 coffins.

Tipasa was founded by the Phoenicians, was made a Roman military colony by the emperor Claudius, and afterwards became a municipium. Commercially it was of considerable importance, but it was not distinguished in art or learning. Christianity was early introduced, and in the third century Tipasa was a bishop's see. Most of the inhabitants continued heathens until, according to the legend, Salsa, a Christian maiden, threw the head of their serpent idol into the sea, whereupon the enraged populace stoned her to death. The body, miraculously recovered from the sea, was buried, on the hill above the harbour, in a small chapel which gave place subsequently to the stately basilica. Salsa's martyrdom took place in the'4th century. In 484 the Vandal king Huneric (477-484) sent an Arian bishop to Tipasa; whereupon a large number of the inhabitants fled to Spain, while many of the remainder were cruelly persecuted. After this time the city disappears from history; and, whether or not its ruin was caused by the Arabs, they seem to have made no settlement there.

(2) Another town which in Roman times was called Tipasa is in the department of Constantine, Algeria, 55 m. due south of Bona, 3140 ft. above the sea; it is now called Tifesh. The chief ruin is that of an extensive fortress, the walls of which are 9 ft. thick.