Favorite thing: El Jem is pretty small town situated in the hinterland of Tunisia. There is nothing interesting to see in this town except for the grandious Roman amphitheatre. Actualy, this is the only part of the town I have seen from the top of the amphitheatre.
- Family Travel
Ploughing with a camel
Favorite thing: More inland, along the road from El-Jem to Kairouan, the landscape is barren and there are no olive groves anymore. We were surprised by this scene with the wife leading a camel, while the husband plough the barren land with a plough that you usually see in a museum! I wonder what crop they are going to saw as in Tunisia corn is sewn in the autumn (this photo was shot in April).
Olive groves, the wealth of El-Djem !
Favorite thing: During the ancient Romans' time, Thysdrus wealth issued from farming olive trees and trading of olive oil. To day, El-Jem and to some extent a large part of Tunisia, still live on olive oil.
The first photo shows a gang of workers coming back from the olive groves. Donkeys hold amphora. Are they full of olive oil? This is most unlikely as olive oil is not produced in the fields but in oil mills, later in the season (December-January) while this photo was shot in August. They should have been taking care of the trees and the amphora might have been either plain water or…, may be, … wine! Strict believers consider that wine is banned by the Koran, however, especially in Tunisia, a part of the population feel that it is not absolutely forbidden, then… Why not!
The second and the third photos show the olive-groves, stretching on hundreds of kilometers around El-Jem.
- Farm Stay
- Road Trip
Views of Amphitheatre
Favorite thing: One of the best ways to arrive in El Jem is along the Sousse road as it's as straight as an arrow for a long distance and you can see the colosseum from afar. We came in on a different road but even from here the views were stunning.
BUY YOUR TICKET.
Favorite thing: If you are taking a normal camera or video camera you have to buy a ticket at the main entrance or you wont be able to take them in,The ticket dosn't cost alot and is worth buying to get the pictures.
- Historical Travel
El Jem - Amphitheatre
Favorite thing: The colosseum is great, almost as big as the one of Rome, and in better condition. It is 148 metres long by 122 metres wide, with tiers up to 35 metres. The colosseum was constructed between 230 and 238 CE by the command of the Imperial official Gordian. It's believed to have given room for as much as 30,000 spectators, some estimates set it at 45,000. This in the town of Thysdrus with only 30,000 inhabitants. But was a wealthy town, probably eager to impress its visitors. The building process is even more impressive considering that the stones were quarried 30 km away at Salakta.
The arena is 65 metres long and 39 metres wide, large enough to host more than one show at a time. Note inside the amphitheatre that the decorations are rather crude. This was because the stone used was too soft for fine sculpture.
The upper part of the tiers were used as a sort of VIP tribune, where roofed rooms allowed hiding from the hot sun.
Fondest memory: Around El Jem there are more to be found, not by today's tourists, but by the archaeologists of the future. Another, but smaller amphitheatre, can be seen around a kilometre away.
Inside the colonnades in El Jem
Favorite thing: Walking the colonnade of the amphitheatre is really impressive, and you will see more travellers than yourself leaning their heads backwards while walking around it all. Much of it cannot have served any practical purpose, and the construction was clearly intended to impress its visitors.
Map of other ruins
Favorite thing: This is a map of the other Roman ruins in the area to the south of the Colosseum. A few of the Roman Villas can be found in the grounds of the museum such as the House of Africa and House of La Procession Dionysiaque. I didn't visit the other ruins outside of the museum so I can't tell you about them but the museum houses mosiacs and other exhibits from their excavations.
Popular adventurer stop-over
Favorite thing: This place is a popular refuge for those desert adventurer types in their 4x4's and on their motorbikes. There were a couple of large parties pulled up near the colloseum entrance. The cafe/restaurant is littered with stickers from various exhibitions to Tunisia's desert south and beyond. Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman stopped off here as part of their Long Way Down series for the BBC when they rode BMW R1200GS's from John O'Groats at the northern tip of Scotland, to Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa but I couldn't find their sticker!
Favorite thing: All ancient sites, mosques, museums and antiquities charge a photographic fee. The ticket for this has to be purchased when one buys the entrance ticket. For each camera a separate fee has to be paid. During my visit the fee was 1 Dinar.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: The local currency is the Dinar. American Express, Visa and travellers cheques are widely accepted, and the US dollar is a good currency to carry them in. ATMs are found in almost every town large enough to support a bank and certainly in all the tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted in souvenir shops and upmarket hotels and restaurants.
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
- School Holidays