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.
The ribat's prayer room houses a Museum of Islamic Art. It houses an interesting collection of coins (10th-11th century), Koranic inscriptions (8th-12th century), fabrics (Coptic linen from Egypt, fine silks), glassware, bronze articles, pottery, jewelry and an astrolabe of 927 from Córdoba. Admission is inclued in the price of the Ribat entry ticket.
Just off the harbour is Monastir's famous Ribat, built by Harthama ben Ayan in 796 AD, which ranks with the Ribat in Sousse as one of the oldest Arab fortresses in North Africa; but while the Ribat in Monastir was further strengthened the one in Sousse soon lost its military importance to the later Kasbah. As a result the similarities between the two buildings are not at first sight evident.
Basically the Ribat is similar in plan to the one in Sousse. Originally it was only 32.80m (108ft) square and lacked the semicircular towers half way along the sides of the Ribat of Sousse. On the southeast side 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.
An imposing gateway on the west side of the Ribat leads into the inner courtyard, surrounded on three sides by buildings several storeys high containing the monks' cells, store-rooms and casemates. The monks quarters were separated by another gateway from other buildings (perhaps women's quarters) probably added in the 9th century. More photos can be found in my travelogues.
Open:8.30am-5.30pm. Admission: TD3 plus TD1 for camera.
This modern mosque was built in 1963 and looks a bit out of place at the eastern side of the Medina. It features a 41m (135ft) high octagonal minaret. The mosque is modelled on the Hammouda Pacha Mosque in Tunis. The prayer hall can accommodate a congregation of a thousand.
The walls of the Medina have been heavily restored. The entire eastern wall no longer survives but those in the north, west and south are still quite impressive. Some interesting gates still survive such as Bab El Gharbi on the western wall and Bab Briqcha in the southern wall.
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.
Bab Briqcha is located on the Medina southern wall and was built by the Ottomans at the end of the 17th century under the reign of Ben Aliand. It was later restored in 1875. There's a good little restaurant perched by beside the medina wall just inside the gate. See my restaurant tips for a review.
The marina is a picturesque area where there are lots of yachts berthed. There are shops - a supermarket, several gifts shops, restaurants, cafes, apartments and a hotel. This is the spot where you will find tourists and locals alike wandering up and down the promenade or sitting in the cafes.
It is the perfect spot to just sit and people watch sitting in one of the cafes. There are one or two establishments around the marina that advertise the fact that they sell alcohol. Such places aren't as numerous as in non-Muslim countries.
The ribat overlooks the nearby beach. It's earliest construction dates back to 796AD but it has been rebuilt several times after various attacks. Experts find it diifciult to put dates on some of the parts of the construction. Some of the oldest parts are the southern walls which date back to the 9th century while the more recent parts were built in the 18th and 19th century.It was the first ribat in Tunisia that allowed women professors and students .
Inside there is a museum with displays of ancient Islamic writings, pottery and other artefacts. There is a map of the original medina on display which shows the impact modernisation has had on the original structure of the city.
Open daily: April-mid Sept 8am-7pm, mid-Sept to March 8.30am-5.30pm
Admission: 2.1 dinar with an additional 1 dinar charge for cameras.
If you think the ribat looks familiar, it may well be the case. It has been used as the Jerusalem in the film Jesus of Nazareth and also in the Monty Python film, The Life Of Brian.
From the top of the ramparts there are some excellent views of the town and the coast.
This is one monument that is difficult to miss. Construction if the mausoleum commenced in 1963 and bears more than a passing resemblance to the format of a mosque. It is dominated by the two minarets and the huge golden dome. Inside are the tombs of Bourguiba himself, his parents and his wife. The main sarcophagus is made of marble and has a large cahndelier. This is where Bourguiba himself was buried after his death in 2000.
There are several rooms to look at within the building, one of which shows many of the former president's personal items.
Open: Mon-Thurs 2pm-4.30pm, Fri-Sun 9am-4.30pm (6pm summer).
If you arrive just after closing time and the main gates are closed, wander around the path to the right and you may find that the guard at the side entrance is more than willing to let you in. This being the case, I'd suggest a 1 dinar tip. we were actually given a guided tour.
The medina is the ancient heart of the city of Monastir. It is bordered by rue d'Alger, avenue Bourguiba and avenue des Martyrs. Inside the Medina there are many sores where you have to haggle before you make your purchases. Many of the stores have some tacky products aimed at the tourists but there are some excellent spots where you can buy spices and more authentic products.
Some of the medina was destroyed to make way for modernisation of the city and then afterwards there have been some less than authentic additions to the architecture, particularly the area close to the Bourguiba statue and Monoprix supermarket.
The statue is dedicated to the schoolboy Habib Bourguiba who was born in the city and raised here during his childhood days. It is located close to the town hall in a small park where the school that Bourguiba was formerly situated.
You can't fail to miss this tribute to the former president of the country.
The mosque was built in 1963 in the traditional Hafsid design by Taieb Bouzguenda. The prayer hall has 86 marble pillars that hold up the vault and teak doors. It has a capacity for around 1,000 worshippers at any one time.
The minaret is 41m high. From here the faithful are called to prayer.
I must admit that I didn't visit this museum. The lunch break has just begun so I need to wait 3 hours to be opened again. So, I'm writing this tip only to prevent you for doing my mistake not visiting the museum immediately after my arrival in Monastir.
The Ribat ( meaning garrison, the place ) was a part of the fortification system built in 8th century on north Africa cost from Morroco to Egypt as a protection from Byzanthine.
Ribat in Monastir is one of the oldest ones in Tunisia and dates back to 797 by government Hirthima.
In 10th century the religious function of Ribat became more important than the military one.
Again you can climb the watchtower.