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Hammam Meskhoutine (Hammam Meskoutine) springs

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 36.4598 N 7.2697 E
No:521        (list of all attractions)
Category:Spring tufa, travertine and other formations, Thermal springs
Values:Geology, Visual
Rank:3
Address:Africa, northern Algeria, Guelma province, some 15 km to the west from Guelma, in Hammam Debagh (also Hammam Meskhoutine) town
Name in Arabic:حمام المسخوطين (bath of the damned ones)
Alternate names:Hammam Chellala (local thermal resort to the south from springs)
Flow rate:1,650 l/s
Temperature of water:97° C
Travertine formations of Hammam Meskhoutine, Algeria
Travertine formations of Hammam Meskhoutine / The Algerian, / CC BY 2.0

The amazing Hammam Meskhoutine springs are well known since the antiquity. These hot springs have formed numerous amazing travertine formations including approximately 30 m tall mound with beautiful rimstone pools and petrified waterfalls.

Tufa cones in Hammam Meskhoutine, Algeria
The legendary tufa cones / William Vaughn Tupper, /public domain, image taken in 1948

Legend

According to an ancient legend which might have its origins in Pre-Islamic times, here took place dramatic events.

Once upon a time here lived a a rich and influential king Ali. This king had a gorgeous sister Ourida, the most beautiful women ever seen. As the king looked for wife, he could not find any other for his liking except for his own sister. Many refused to come to this wedding and many people escaped from the village where the wedding took place. Nevertheless there were people who came and even a priest was there to marry them.

As the wedding started, a terrible earthquake took place and demons came out from the underworld. When the trembling and thunder ended, villagers returned home and saw in horror that Ourida and Ali as well as the priest and other participants were petrified - turned in the tufa cones now seen to the east from the main travertine formation. Thus the place got its name Hammam Meskhoutine - "bath of the damned ones".

Description

The flat surface of Hammam Meskhoutine, Algeria
The flat surface of Hammam Meskhoutine/ Dan Sloan, / CC BY-SA 2.0

In spite of this gruesome story the area around Hammam Meskhoutine is peaceful, pastoral and green. These springs have been known since the antiquity and in Roman times here was a resort named Aquae Thiblitanae.

Here over some 6 km long distance along the right bank of Chédakha river are scattered numerous thermal springs.

Most impressive group of springs has formed enormous travertine mound. Powerful springs still flow from the top of this approximately 30 m tall mound with flattened top. On the sides of this mound have formed smaller rimstone pools. Travertine for most part is bright white but there are many places where the iron compounds and microorganisms have colored the travertine in various shades of red, orange and brown.

Most impressive is the enormous travertine wall which rises 30 m above the Chédakha river.

Temperature of water in these springs is high - around 96° C. Sometimes it is erroneously declared that these springs are among the hottest in the world but this is not exactly true - there are numerous springs around the world which have similar and higher temperature.

Travertine wall of Hammam Meskhoutine, Algeria
Travertine wall/ Dan Sloan, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Water in the springs has rather low mineralisation, with low levels of lime, chlorine and some iron salts.

Around the main travertine formation, mainly to the east from the main travertine block is located a group of more than 100 tufa pyramids - the "petrified wedding guests". The tallest are 4 - 5 m high. These pyramids also have been formed by thermal waters.

Interesting formations are also several travertine trenches surrounded by walls which lead towards the Chédakha river - mainly to the north from the main travertine formation. These trenches have been formed by lime-rich thermal water flowing towards the river and precipitating the lime along its way. Some smaller ones are still "active" - with thermal water flowing through them. Some are older and "abandoned" by water, dry and crumbling. The most impressive are 500 m long, with 8-15 m tall walls.

Map

See Hammam Meskhoutine springs on the map of Algeria!

 

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