Tunisia is located only a few kilometres away from Sicily, the Roman influence is therefore still very obvious.
In 800BC the Punic Tunis was only a small village in a shadow of Carthage. Today, Tunis is a modern city with 1.2 Million inhabitants.
Things To See:
- Amphitheatre of El Jem.
Also spelt ‘El Djem’, it is the largest amphitheatre in North Africa and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This amphitheatre held up to 35,000 spectators. Dating from the 3rd century, the ruined amphitheatre offers a quality of construction comparable with the Roman Coliseum. Animals, prisoners and gladiators, awaiting battle, were housed in the underground passageways.
- The old city, or Medina of Tunis, is a group of intact historic buildings which preserve the connection between architecture, art, sculpture and urban planning typical of their period. The leaf motifs and colours of the roadside doors record Islamic symbolism and Tunisian lifestyles. The white, green and red coat of arms celebrates the Hafsid dynasty, the city’s rulers for 300 years. The symbolic, geometric designs above the doors are made with different sized nails. The Medina of Tunis was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979.
- In the Medina of Sousse you can feel the atmosphere of ancient Tunisia. Once you have entered the Medina by its southerly gate, you can discover the delights of its ‘souq’ or covered bazaars. You could also visit the museum (Dar Essid) which gives a good impression of upper-class traditional Tunisian life. The rooftop cafe affords great views across the city. The Great Mosque radiates peace, due to its rather severe Aghlabite style.
- From the 12th to the 16th century Tunis was considered one of the greatest cities in the Arabic world. So it is no surprise that the Medina became a World Heritage Site in 1979. You’ll need flat shoes, because there’s a lot to explore. If you love history, architecture and sculpture, there are 700 monuments in the old city: palaces, mosques, mausoleums, ‘madrasas’ (Islamic schools) and fountains. The doors are uniquely decorated with colourful, symbols and other designs are fashioned from nails.
- Kerkouane was an important Punic city.
Its Necropolis (large burial site, from the Greek meaning ‘city of the dead’) was discovered in 1929 by a local schoolteacher who sold much of the treasure and jewellery he found. The network of vaults, four tomb-chambers and the surrounding area which make up the Necropolis lie northwest of the town of Kerkouane. Many other precious artefacts have been unearthed, including a set of rare perfume flasks. A sarcophagus cover representing Astarte, protectress of the dead, was another rare find. This UNESCO World Heritage site (1985) was declared as this is the only surviving example of a Phoenicio-Punic city.
- Second only in importance to Mecca and Medina, Kairouan is considered to be the fourth most sacred city of Islam. In Kairouan you can find the Mosque of Uqba and the city is known as the Cultural Capital of Islam and it has indeed been a key place for the study of the Koran since the city was founded in the 7th century.
- Conservation inspired the creation of Ichkeul National Park. This wetland offers an astonishing diversity of ecosystems. The park is home to many birds, 400 plants species, as well as animals and fish. Ducks such as shovellers, pochards and widgeons share the terrain with buffalo, wild boar and otters.
- The site of Dougga/Thugga, situated in North West Tunisia, records more than 17 centuries in the ruins of a complete city. The site integrates several cultural styles: Numidian, Punic, Hellenistic and Roman, reflected in both public and private buildings: temples (dedicated to the Roman gods), a circus, baths, a theatre, a market, fountains, shops and houses.