Old Kebili is not huge, and with so many families heading to the site to maintain old houses or worship at the zaouias, there are lots of kids running amok among the ruins. Sooner or later, you'll be spotted, and word will get round to the director of the Save Old Kebili organization, who also runs a small but fascinating museum in the best...more
The mosque's minaret stands tall above the ruins and is quite a sad sight. Apart from the small whitewashed zaouias, it is the only real surviving structure of Old Kebili. The mosque building itself doesn't look as old as the minaret, but is still in use, as you will hear five times a day...the muezzin still calls the faithful to prayer, even...more
Four or five zaouias (also known as marabouts...think of them as mini mosques) still stand in Kebili, and a couple of them are used regularly. I met members of the Aissawiya Sufi sect who invited me to their Mawlid an-Nebi (Prophet's Birthday) celebrations in one of the zaouias. A group of old men in ragged clothing sat on a raised platform, one...more
Old Kebili used to be just plain Kebili until relatively recently. In the 1980s, the old centre was deemed uninhabitable, and the locals were "encouraged" to move to the modern town 3 kilometres away. I'm told this was supposedly optional, but by making basic commodities like electricity and water more difficult to obtain, there probably wasn't...more
If modern Kebili doesn't do it for you, don't just hop on the next louage out of there...stock up on water, and head out of town, under an impressive archway and down a 3 kilometre road through palm trees...After half an hour or so, the ruins and zaouias of Old Kebili will appear. The road is quiet, although there were a few cars and scooters...more
Old Kebili is completely deserted. We could see some builders in the distance working on a site but other than that we had the place to ourselves. We decided to wander throught the ruins to try and find a place for a picnic. The mosque in the old town has a loudspeaker attached but I'm not sure who observes the call to prayer here. Perhaps it's the...more
Deep in the oasis lies Old Kebili which has been abandoned since 1980. Approaching Kebili from the south you'll see a sign for L'ancienne Kebili. Follow this road for about a kilometre and you'll see a large arch from where a narrow, winding road leads to the old town. There is a mosque, a couple of marabout and a large number of abandoned houses.more
A trendy local cafe, supposedly suitable for women (there is a "family section" at the back behind a flimsy net curtain, although there were no women lurking within when I went), is the best place in kebili's new town for an evening of coffee and chicha. Inside, it has been decked out like a cave...not Aladdin's cave, and we can all thank Allah for that, but an almost tasteful natural cave. I use the term "tasteful" in the loosest possible sense, mind.
Anyway, it's a good place, the coffee is strong and black, the chicha smooth and fragranted...and you'll probably run into Youcef, the local tourist guide who tends to track down any foreigners passing through. He can offer an array of tours to the desert south, but is also equally happy to sit and chat about Kebili over a no-strings-attached coffee.
Many towns in Tunisia have interesting monuments/architecture on the road near their entrance. In Kebili there was a bridge over the road which had the head of a camel at either end. In a country where much of the decoration, art and architeture is religious, it's quite refreshing to see something different.more
After walking through the ruins we finally saw somewhere to sit and have a picnic. On the far side of the mosque was a makeshift wall which was exactly what we needed. I've had lunch in some interesting places before but next to a mosque in an ancient town which has been practically deserted for 26 years was one of the strangest places.more