The Medina is a great place to spend an afternoon or a day wandering around in. It is still a working Medina as far as the locals are concerned so it has not lost it's authentic feel. Watch out for the English speaking shop keepers who may try and take you on an overpriced tour of the Medina or try and sell you some thing else you do not need. This is great place to come in and wander with a camera.
The medina, or old quarter, of Tunis was built during the 7th century by invading Arabs. From the 12th to the 16th centuries, Tunis was considered to be one of the greatest and wealthiest cities of the Islamic world and its Medina is testimony to its former grandeur. Before the French arrived in 1881, the entire population of Tunis lived within its walls. The French then opened up the area around the Medina by reclaiming land from Lake Tunis and built Ville Nouvelle which then deprived the Medina of its main role. Today, less than 15,00 people live here and the main trade is souvenirs which you can walk past from the Medina's eastern entrance by Bab el Bhar. The Medina encloses several major tourist attractions such as the Zaytouna Mosque and other old mosques as well as several old palaces which are now museums and souqs. Take care within the Medina by the souvenir shops as they can be quite intimidating and get out into the less busy alleyways and witness the daily life that goes on.
This huge freestanding arch was the medina's eastern gateway until the surrounding walls were demolished by the French only a few of the old gates to the medina still remain and are today circled by the heavy traffic of Tunis
The capital possesses the largest and best endowed example of a medina. The word in Arabic means no more then ‘town’. In Tunis they were once high walled, narrow allayed burghs that medieval travellers hastened to before the massive gates closed to safe against intruders during the night.
Built during the VII century - AD, medina is the historical and cultural center of the modern Tunis and the ideal place to gather the vital spirit of the city. In it it is possible to perceive a myriad of constructions that tell the manifold dominations succeeded in the centuries -Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Ottomans, etc.
The medina in Tunis is a fascinating, and slightly intimidating, place.
A maze of streets filled with shops selling everything imaginable, and VERY enthusiastic salespeople!!
A word of warning - don't enter a shop unless you intend to buy something. On several occasions, shopowners refused to let me out of their shops after I had browsed around and seen nothing that I fancied buying.
But don't let that put you off visiting - the medina is a truly amazing experience.
The Medina actually used to be the entire city of Tunis until the French arrived in the late 1800's and extended a more modern area to the city outside the Medina's walls. The Medina is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. The Porte de France is one of the entrances to the old Medina from the modern French area of Tunis. It was loosely designed after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and one of its nicknames is "the little Arc de Triomphe"
Visit Medina (Old Town) for shopping.
As for me, all Arabic medinas are very much alike. Still I like the incomparable spirit of this place, the oriental atmosphere and fascinating colour. Since you've decided to buy something here - bargain as much as you can. The priced is usually incredibly reduced. Try to show that you are not going to buy, make attempts to leave - and you'll get waht you want.