travels

Interesting Places in Tunisia

Tunisia is a place of many cultures. In the architecture of Tunisian cities we may easily notice many Roman, Phoenician and French influences, but there are also some oriental buildings which are remnants after the Turkish rule.

Tunis

Tunis is a big metropolitan city with about 2 million inhabitants, which expanded around the centre of the Old Town and suks (markets) in the direction of the modern suburbs and harbor facilities. The Medina founded in the 8th century spread around the Ezzitoun mosque (dating back to 703 AD). Local markets, called suks, gather the representatives of all traditional craftsmanship (fabrics, jewelers, leather, perfumes…) and the narrow alleys and backstreets are an ideal place for picturesque walks. It is worth visiting former palaces of local rich men (Dars), in which there are nowadays museums (for example Dar Ben Abdallah, Palais Khereddine, Dar Husseln), restaurants (for example Dar Jeld, Dar Bel Hadj) and shops with carpets (Palais d'Orient). While paying a visit to Tunis, it is also worth visiting the Bardo museum which is beyond doubt one of the most beautiful and the biggest museums in the world due to its unique collection of Roman mosaics.

Carthage

The legendary Carthage is nowadays a suburb of Tunis. A former Phoenician settlement founded 3,000 years ago and destroyed 2,000 years ago, a power posing a threat to Rome, attracts tourists due to the tragic nature of its eventful history. Baths of Antonius Plus, numerous Roman villas, a theatre and the Punic Tophet (a place where children were sacrificed to the Baal Hammon God and Tanit Goddess), the district of Punic houses in the Byrs hill, former harbors and a great collection of relicts from the Carthaginian museum prove how unusual this place is.

Bizeta and Ichkeul Lake

Bizerta, located one hour far away from Tunis, is a very important harbor of this region, once used by Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turkish pirates and the French army. The most picturesque place is an old harbor with a harbor for colorful fishers’ boats. It is also worth to have a walk on the winding alleys of Medina, along whitened houses and stalls to feel the authentic atmosphere of an old Arabic city.

In the neighborhood, there are beautiful forests, lakes as well as rocky and sandy coasts. There is also in the neighborhood, at Ichkeul Lake, the most important reserve in the North Africa of birds and wild animals which is listed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage.

Tabarka

It is a mountainous region, with bushy forests (olive trees, fig trees, pines, cork oak, palms, cypresses and orange trees) and with rocky coast and picturesque bays. It was once a Phoenician village, but is nowadays a small town with a yacht harbor. It is located among green hills which are crossed by winding streams. It is a harmonious mixture of wild nature and modernity. It offers tourists numerous attractions like golf, thalassoterapla, hunting, fishing, diving next to coralline reefs and a sandy beach in the eastern part. Music festivals, as well as a film and underwater photos festival attract a lot of music and diving lovers every year. The town is known for beautiful coral reefs which very often used to be the reason for disagreement between countries a couple of ages ago. Nowadays, they are a perfect place for diving fans and contemporary jewelers tempt tourists with coralline jewellery.

Ain Draham

It is an extraordinary city, located among forests, at the height of 800 meters above sea level. It is a wonderful destination to hike through the Pass of Winds, the Pass of Ruins and Beri Lake. It is also a centre of wild boar hunting.

Bulla Regia

It used to be one of the richest cities of the Roman Africa, which developed most rapidly in the 2nd and the 3rd century. Nowadays, it is known for its most valuable Roman excavations in the world, due to the remnants of baths, temples, theatre, forum and mostly due to its well-preserved Roman villas with underground levels and beautiful mosaics on the floor. They are an example of an architecture which is perfectly adjusted to the hot and dry climate in summer.

Beja

It is an unusually picturesque and fertile region which used to be called “the granary of Rome”. Nowadays, the town is still a very important farming region with the very beautiful Old Town.

Le Kef

Located on the mountainous slopes, it is a quiet town with winding alleys, numerous backstreets which delights tourists with its unique atmosphere. A spring, dating back to the Roman times, still provides the town with water. It is worth seeing a small altar of the Lalla Ma Goddess of waters, Roman baths, temples dating back to Sicca Veneria period (in the 2nd and the 3rd century it was a centre of Venus worship) and the St. Peter basilica from the 4th century, Sidi Bou Makhlouf Mosque with a minaret with an octangular foundation and two cupolas.

Sbeitla

An attraction of this town are the ruins of ancient Sufetula which spread on the flat plain along the river. Roman statues, baths with square swimming pools and mosaics, a theatre, three Capitoline temples as well as a Byzantine fortress and Witalis basilica prove how important the town used to be. Supposedly, even 10,000 people used to live here .

Chemtou

It is mainly known due to its stone-pits of marble which has a rare yellow color and which used to be gathered by Numidians and very often used by Romans. Numerous remnants of mining tools and houses for slaves as well as remnants of a theatre and a bath are very interesting. A museum with an interesting exhibition was opened in 1998.

Maktar

It is another place which shows how different cultures meet in Tunisia. There are a lot of remnants of the monuments from different ages: megalith sepulchral buildings, stelas in Libyan and Punic languages, Roman forum, triumphal arc, baths (among others wonderful and well-preserved “the Great Baths of the South”), temples, amphitheatre, Christian basilicas and Byzantine fortresses.

Dougga

The most valued and the best-preserved place of the Roman period excavations, called “Tunisian Pompeii”. Dougga, which is located on a slope, surprises with the number and the quality of its monument, with its numerous temples, including one of the most beautiful Capitols in the world, a theatre for 3,500 people, forum, baths as well as with the Punic monuments gathered by the Ateban Mausoleum dating back to 200 B.C. In 1997 Dougga was listed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage.

Kerkouane

It is a city probably built in the 5th century B.C. It was destroyed during the first Punic war. Nowadays, it is the most interesting monuments of Carthage times. Excavation works helped to reconstruct the site plan of the town, located on 7 hectares in a chessboard structure with a double defense wall, houses and a sanctuaries. On of the mosaics shows Tanit- the goddess of fertility and a patroness of the town. Kerkouane was known for the production of purple colorant, the most popular color among Romans, obtained out of a sea snail called murex. The town and the neighboring Punic cemetery are listed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage.

Kelibia

A former Punic residence, Roman , Byzantine, Arab, Spanish, Turkish village, is a perfect example of an multicultural Mediterranean city. It is well-visible due to the fortress (ancient foundations, Turkish-Spanish facades), located on a cliff, was supposed to defend the harbor and the Messie Strait. There is a wonderful view from the defense walls.

Kelibia is known for the production of tasty white and dry muscatel wines.

Tozeur

It is a picturesque city with the original beige-rust-colored architecture with characteristic geometrical patterns made of bricks on the facades. Similar patterns are also visible on the local Berber kilims. Bricks are still hand-made and made in kilns with the help of palm leaves. It is also worth having a trip with a cab to a neighboring oasis, where on the area of 1,000 hectares grow about half a million of dactyl palms. It is irrigated with the help of 200 channels according to a system established by an Arab mathematician from the 13th century. The Museum Dar Cheralet showing the scenes from the life of Gods is also very interesting. Children will be fascinated by a fairy interior of “Thousand and One Night” and by Dar Zammam which shows the history of Tunisia from prehistory to present times.

Douz

It is the most Sahara- like northern oasis , called “the Gate of Sahara”. The dunes made of little sand and caravans of camels as well as convoys of jeeps which go to the desert start here. A famous Sahara Festival (in November and December) presenting customs, dances, music of the South, camel race and shows of horsemen take place here.

Mahdia

In the Fatimid period it was a capital city of Tunisia ( after Carthage and before Tunis). A very interesting phenomena are “the Black Gate” Skifa EI Kahla leading to medina and defense walls, the Old Town, a 16-century old fortress , fisher’s harbor, Muslim seaside cemetery. Tourists know that here are the most beautiful, wide beaches full of little sand and unique clear water. It is worth visiting the Salatka Museum, located at the place of the ancient Sullectum, next to the Pnic cemetery. There is also a wonderful mosaic showing Iwa-an emblem of one of the rich men living once in the city.

EI Jem

It is a town with the most spectacular building of the Roman Northern Africa, i.e. amphitheatre dating back to the 3rd century, a third- big (after Rome and Kapua) but best-preserved in the world. It is 148-meter long, 122-meter broad and has a diameter of 427 meters. It is listed in the UNESCO List of World Heritage. It is also worth visiting the ruins of another smaller amphitheatre, Roman villas and a museum with a great collection of mosaics.

Mountainous Oasis

At the foot of the vast range of the Atlas Mountains there are some small oasis: Cheblka, Tamerza and Mides. Waterfalls of Tamerza, the huge Mides ravine, springs and mountain paths of Chebikl are among the best views of Tunisia. These places are so unique, because besides its unique colors and atmosphere, there are also ruins of former villages deserted after the great flood in 1969.

Salt Lakes

Salt lakes are an interesting natural phenomenon at the border of the rocky and sandy desert. They are 350-kilometer long. Three of them are in Tunisia. After a rainfall, they fill up with water, which evaporates quickly in the sun, which makes the lakes look like a plain without end with chappy earth covered with white substance. EI Jerid sheet is the biggest salt lake in Tunisia and in Northern Africa. It can be maximally 250-kilometer long and minimally 20-kilometer broad. A travel through the lake (on the asphalt road) is an unforgettable experience. In the roadside channels filled with water, salt crystals shine with different colors depending on the degree of oxidation of potassium and the shivery hot air often causes fata morgana.