Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis is the capital of Tunisia.  The city counted 728453 inhabitants at the census in 2004 against 596654 at the one in 1984.  It’s in the upper north of the country, on the Mediterranean Sea.  Directly outside of Tunis you can find the ruins of the old Carthage.  Mostly the therms (baths), the graves, the amphitheater and the leftovers of the aquaduct are worth seeing.  An enjoyable detail is that the excavations are close to the sea.  The warm sources of Antonius Pius witness from an earlier Roman presence here.  There’s also a museum.  The history here already start 8000 years before Christ.  In the second millennium before Christ a Berber city was born here named Tunes.  Through the centuries it became part of the Carthaginians and later Numidia.  In the antiquity it always stayed in the shadow of the nearby Carthage.

With the arrival of the Arabic armies in the 7th century, the city became more important as harbour city.  In the 11th century it was one of the only cities able to escape the destruction by Banu Hilal. From the 10th to 16th century the city was ruled by several Beber dynasties: the Zirids, the Hammadids, the Almohads and the Hafsids. Under the last two the city became one of the biggest and richest cities in the Islamic world.  Until the 16th century it was the capital of the kingdom of the Hafsids. Just like the rest of Tunisia the city was conquered by the Ottomans.

Just like many other current islamic cities Tunis has a part that looks very western and also an old city, often called the medina (Medina just means city in Arabic). The Bardo museum with several world-famous Roman mozaiques is also in Tunis.  Also worth seeing is the souk Bab-el-Bahar, considered one of the most beautiful in North Africa.  Every craft has its own spot. Saddlers, perfumers, carpet traders, coppersmiths, jewelery traders, potters, … An oriental trading live with specific scents, a jumble of shrieks and a rich palette of colors. From everywhere you can see the 44 m high minaret from the mosque dating from the 8th century.  Opposite of the Dar Hoessein palace (with the museum for islamic art) are the mosques El-Ksar and the Kasba with his nice minarets (from 1200). Not every mosques is freely accessible. The Moorish style elements are dominant. Behind the Belvedere park, at the foot of the hillside, is the most famous thing to see; in the harem of the previous Bardo palace there’s a museum, the most important one after the Egyptian museum in Cairo. A unique exhibition of Roman mozaiques, models of important ruins, Phoenician discoveries, Roman sarcophagi, … brought together in 30 rooms.

(source: wikipedia.org)

Things to see

  • Amphitheater of Carthage
  • Bardo Museum
  • Byrsa hill
  • Carthage
  • Dougga in the Tebersouk mountains
  • Gammarth Beach Resort
  • La Goulette
  • Medina
  • Pottery in Nabeul
  • Presidential palace
  • Sidi Bou Said

You can find more pictures here.

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