The Medina in Monastir is surrounded by a battlemented wall built in the 18th century. Recently restored in the interests of the tourist trade, it now looks very smart and well cared for. The Medina itself is smaller than those in Tunis and Sousse and it doesn't have the same vibe or atmosphere. At the centre lies Place du 3 Septembre 1934 which is features a few shops and cafes.
Views from the Ribat
On the southeast side of the Ribat is the three-storey Nador tower, from the top of which there are fine views of the harbour, the large cemetery containing the Bourguiba Mausoleum, the Great Mosque and the roofs of the Medina.
Monastir - Tunisia's famous Ribat
I first came to Monastir with my parents back in 1989 for a weeks holiday and came again as part of a 10 day winter tour around northern Tunisia as a day trip from Sousse. I didn't remember much of the town except for the two octagonal pavillions at the entrance to the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba which was closed to visitors back in 1989 as Tunisia's first president, who was born in Monastir, died in 2000.
Like most of Tunisia, Monastir's history goes back a fair bit. The Phoenicians established a trading station named Rous Penna on this strategic site, and under the Romans this became the town of Ruspina. During the civil war with Pompeii (49-46 B.C.) Caesar made this his headquarters in North Africa and surrounded it with a triple ring of walls. When the Arabs established a chain of fortified monasteries along the North African coast in the 8th century they recognised the strategic value of this site at the tip of the peninsula and built the famous Ribat from which the town takes its name (Greek - Monasterion). Today the town is at the eastern end of a huge tourist area that streches for miles along the Gulf of Hammamet to Sousse.