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Coordinates: 36°27′N 7°26′E / 36.45°N 7.433°E / 36.45; 7.433

Commune of Guelma
بلدية قالمة
Guelma seen from Ben Djerrah.jpeg
Guelma as seen from Ben Djerrah
Guelma location.svg
Map of Guelma Province highlighting Guelma Municipality
ONS code 2401
Postal code 24000
Province Guelma (seat)
District Guelma (seat)
PMA Seats 23
Altitude 256 m (843 ft)
Population 116 693 (2002)
Coat of arms of Guelma

Guelma (Arabic: قالمة‎) is the capital of Guelma Province and Guelma District; located in north-eastern Algeria, at about 40 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast. It is home to the titular see of Calama.




The Roman Theater of Guelma

While Guelma was settled from early Prehistory, it was first established as a town under the Phoenicians, who called it Malaca, probably being a Phoenician word meaning "salt" (sharing a common etymology with Málaga in Spain). Later, the Romans settled the area and renamed it Calama, part of the Roman province of Numidia. Calama prospered during the rise of Christianity; Saint Possidius was bishop of Guelma during the fifth century. Later, the Vandal invasion ruins the area until the coming of the Byzantines, who settle the area and make city walls to protect it from further invasions. It was located in the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. However, after the successful Islamic conquest of Algeria, the area becomes abandoned as a formal settlement, even later, during Ottoman rule.

French rule

People in front of Guelma's train station (19th century postcard)

Guelma gets re-established as a formal settlement during the French invasion of Algeria, after 7 centuries of abandonnement. The annexation of the area starts with the advancing of the French Army coming from Annaba, going further west to Constantine (the occupation of the later city would make north-eastern Algeria officially a part of France) who discovered (and temporarily occupied) the ruins of Calama from 10-15 November 1836 under the command of general Bertrand Clausel. Guelma becomes established as a city in January 20, 1846 and later gets its communal constitution in June 17, 1854. A modern city quickly develops around the Roman ruins, first inside the restaured Byzantine city walls, later also outside the walls (which were operated as functioning city walls during these times) and near the railroad which crosses the city from the west to the east. The Roman teather of Guelma (shown in the right) was restaured 1905 under the rule of mayor M. Joly. It had a high percentage of European settlers during these times, supported by the French colonial policy of these times. Its civilians suffered greatly during the Sétif massacre which happened on May 8, 1945. Guelma's oldest still-operating religious building (1837) is the "El-Atik Mosque", or The Great Mosque Of Guelma, Guelma has also had a synagogue, which served the local Jews as well as a church on the place de Saint Augustin for the European settlers.


After the Independence of Algeria, both he European settlers and the indigenous Jews leave, the synagogue and the church have been converted into mosques. The population of Guelma grows at a high pace. Guelma gets a university at the end of the 20th century, called the University of May 8 1945.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Guelma is a city in Northeast Algeria.

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