The walk through alleyways (often the wrong ones), can be almost as amazing as this house itself. You are breaking away from the soukkes and the tourist trail, surrounded by narrow alleys of homes and children palying in the road, tormenting stray cats.
This house is a palace in the madness. The luxury for its time is incredible, with a tower giving a fantastic panaramic view of the surrounding area. The idea of visiting a 'traditional house' museum, may not be everyone's idea of time well spent, but it really is worth seeing.
The tower was used to determine the first day of Ramadan - according to the position of the moon. This tower is the second highest point in the Medina after the lighthouse on the Kasbah. The views from it are wonderful.
There are two kitchen areas within the house. The first and smallest of the tow is located on the first storey at the top of the stairs. All the tiles on the walls are from Andalusia, Spain. This kitchen was used only for light cooking or for making coffee or tea. The larger kitchen is through a patio area. It took two servants to manage the large untensils (some of which are 400 years old) on a very big stove which was fuelled by charcoal from olive wood with three ovens used for fish, poultry and meat. For big occasions a further stove with three hobs was used for perfumes, baking bread and other feasts. The millstone dates from Roman times.
The houses bathroom is located within the first wife's bedroom. There is running water which comes from a well and out of the wall. The pissoir is from the Roman period and is unique in Tunisia. The marble that covers the bathroom is from Carara in Italy.
The children's bedroom is directly opposite you as you enter into the courtyard. This room was for children over the age of 10. Before that they stayed with their mothers. The room features a German clock that dates from the early to mid 19th century.
The first wife's bedroom is to the right of the entrance hall. On the wall at the back of the table is a beautiful marriage contract that is approx 700 years old. The two golden pictures opposite each other are made of 18 carat gold and are chapters from the Koran. The old lamp was used from Roman times by the husband to ensure that he gave his wives pleasure. In order to prove his stamina and control, the man had to continue as long as the lamp remained alight, but could not take his pleasure until it went out!
As you enter into the small courtyard from the entrance hall which was allowed for buisness visits, the second wife's bedroom is to the left. Above the sitting area are beautiful perfume bottles which were customary to bring as a gift when visiting. They were placed high up in order to have something to look at when reclining. The two red curtains hanging in front of the children's beds are 300 years old and made out of cashmere from India.
This small residential museum is a must see in Sousse. It's located along the northernmost street that runs along the wall of the Medina. The museum displays what a typical well-to-do 19th century family home would have looked like completed with furniture and ornaments. The house was built in 928 AD which makes it one of the oldest within the Medina. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues and the next few tips detail each room along with photos.
Admission: TD3 plus TD1 for camera charge.
One of the oldest houses in the Sousse medina, Dar Essid is now a museum showing the lifestyle of a typical upper-class 19th-century Sousse official.
It is probably one of the most interesting places to visit in town: almost each room is eye candy, and if you ever adjust to the colourful tiles and decorations, amusing details keep you entertained. The quirkiest attraction is the Roman lamp with a graphic depiction of a copulating couple, which was used to measure a man's control and stamina (too bad our photo turned our blurry), with the bed of the second wife (obviously, the decor is from a period before former president Habib Bourguiba banned polygamy) also worthy of a special mention.
Finally, you can climb the minaret for a view of the medina and the Mediterranean sea.
Museum Dar Essid is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the year.
A rich house that houses a private ethnographical museum that represents the daily life (and night.. when the wife leaves the bed of her husband immidiately after the sexual act ;-). Among other things you may see an old marriage contract.
From the tower you have a nice panorama of medina. Also there is a cafe.
The third museum in Sousse I'd like to mention is the Dar Esid - in my opinion the most worthwhile to visit and most surprised it wasn't mentioned in my guide book. Just goes to show you should explore and use your own eyes and not solely depend upon a book. The museumis situated in the corner of the medina behind the Ribat. Reaching it was a bit of an experience as rather than walking up from the Ribat we appproached through the Medina walls from the top end and promptly found ourselves in the red light district - maybe thats why the guidebook didn't mention it! We put our heads down and scurried down an alleyway hopefully in the direction of the museum only to find it came to a dead end and we had to re-trace our steps! Anyway to the museum, a privately owned one - just 2 dinars to vist plus the obligatory dinar for photography - well worthile here. Before we go in here's a view of the door entrance- the size indicative of the wealth of the house - and typically decorated with christian and islamic motifs. Ok lets go inside....
Ok the owners don't speak much English but they have a written sheet prepared in English descibing the rooms and their main features. The interior rooms are wonderfully cramped with furniture and decorations - an eclectic mixture of traditional styles, European imports (such as the 18th cenntury German clocks!)and some private creativity. The whole mseum is a delightful insight into the inner quarters of upper class life. The house was used by a 19th century official and the families of his two wives. Each wife had her own chamber, but not far from each other, the rooms being off an internal courtyard and kitchens above. Look out for the Roman oil lamp next to the first wife's bed. It is supposed to have been lit every time they had sex, with the husband being in action as long as the light burned! Afterwards the wife would return to her own bed.