In close proximity to Sidi Bou Said are the magnificent, preserved ruins of Carthage. Site of Punic War battles, the ruins of Carthage are a testament to part the Romans played in the history of this North African country. Carthage is also noted as the birth place of Hannibal.
So great was the importance of this Phoenician-founded city of Carthage that it rivaled Rome. Following their own pattern of acquisition around the Mediterranean, the Romans conquered Carthage, leveled the city during its seige, and rebuilt the city 100 years later. The history is just too extensive to cover in this small page.
The ruins of ancient Carthage are not contained in one small spot, but cover many areas with much of it centered on Byrsa Hill and happily much of it can be seen for free.
The only place requiring an admission fee (included in the tour) that I remember seeing was the Antonine Baths. The Antonine Baths occupy a beautiful setting overlooking the Bay of Tunis, and the ruins are quite extensive. From personal experience, I would recommend buying a guide book EVEN IF you hire a guide or take a tour.
At the Antonine Baths you will find a small shop to purchase guide books, pictures, postcards, and other items featuring the history of Carthage if you are interested. You might find these things a little less expensive just outside the exit gate at the shops located there.
We had really hoped to visit the American Cemetery while in Tunisia, but didn't think we had a prayer of being able to actually do it. We had already booked a half day tour which didn't include the cemetery. However, near the end of our tour, our wonderful guide had our bus driver make a half hour stop at the cemetery which was an unexpected joy!! My family really appreciated this gesture of kindness.
The North Africa American Cemetery is 27 acres of beautiful, peaceful and well kept land honoring those American soldiers/sailors who lost their lives during World War II in or near North Africa. The Cemetery was completed in 1960, and is located in what was once the British 1st Army Sector when Tunisia was liberated in 1943. A neatly arranged cemetery is filled with rows of crosses and markers which top the 2,841 graves here. One plaque lists the names of the known dead. Memorials also remember those unknown soldiers who gave their lives. "Tablets of the Missing" are comprised of a wall made of Nahli limestone 364 feet long with panels of imported Italian limestone. On these tablets are inscribed 3,724 names of those Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard men & women who gave their lives but whose remains could not be identified or who were lost at sea.
We did not have near enough time to see the whole cemetery, but the Superintendant of the Cemetery handed out information pages to all who were interested in learning more. There is also a small Visitor Center with interesting photos and displays near the entrance. Also to be found inside is an ancient mosaic found in this region of Tunisia and donated to the Cemetery in 1959 by the late President Bourguiba. You can also sign a guest book to document your visit.
We were extremely appreciative of our guide who brought us here so we could pay our respects to Americans who gave their lives during WWII as well as the Superintendant.
Our ship docked in La Goulette, a medium-sized town on the Bay of Tunis and an important fishing port. Althougth the name seems to be French, one source says that the name is actually derived from the Arabic, "Halk El Oued" meaning "river mouth."
La Goulette appeared to be a somewhat prosperous place due probably to its strategic sea location, the docking of cruise ships, and a point for shipping and fishing. Unfortunately, we were not given any specific information about La Goulette and I have had some trouble finding out anything about it other than a very few facts. My photos captured what looks to be a very old fortress, and several other modern buildings, a little green park and a prominent minerette.
The port building had a wonderful duty-free store filled with an excellent variety of Tunisian crafts which I liked very much. (No bargaining here, the price is the price!!) The beautiful Tunisian Pottery, leather, beaten metal work, glass, and ceramics were all eye-catching.
The people here were very polite but I have found in some Mediterranean countries the shop keepers do not necessarily want you to touch everything or anything for that matter. Most Americans like to touch and look closely at items they are interested in buying -- this is to inspect the item certainly but also it is part of the pleasure of buying. Even though I was not to have the pleasure of looking closely at items for sale here, I still bought several gifts here for others and a few for myself!!
Just outside of the port building a man with a pure white, baby camel would allow you to take pictures with the camel for 1 Euro which I happily did. The resulting photo is my absolute favorite souvenir of my visit to Tunisia!!! (I hope that baby grew into a healthy adult camel because he/she looked much too young to be parted from its Mother.)
Lucky are the sailors and inhabitants buried in the cemetery of Sidi Bou Saïd.
Feets oriented toward Mecqua, the graves overlook the Mediterranean Sea and the white and blue houses and zaouia of the village.
Located not very far from the every day excitation of the main street, but such a quiet place, protected only by cats and the wind.
Dar El Annabi is traditional Tunisian house open for the public visitors, in order to see the intimacy of a typical Tunisian high class home.
The house has been constructed at the end of the 18th century and decorated and rebuilt during the 20th century as a summer residence by Taleb El Annabi, son of the Mufti Mohamed, a man of religion and law.
I am not sure about, but it seems this is the mistress of the house. My french is very poor and I didn't understand what she was telling me, however, she willingly posed me in front of the kitchen dressed in the traditional local cloth.
This is a part of the house I liked the most, so-called Andalusian garden, with exotic plants grow around and a huge birdcage. There is also an impluvium which is an underground water cistern collecting the rainwater coming from the numerois terraces.
The glass roof cover the space used during the evenings and another summer bedroom where a scene of the Bride's Henna ceremony is represented.
This is the front part of the Andalusian garden with big jar which stands in its central position. That big jars used many years ago to provide cereals and olive oil. The jar is richly decorated by very skilful local craftsmen.
The first summer room for relaxing is situated just at the entrance. It is well protected against the sun providing refreshing "cold" air. The room is beautifully decorated and exclusivly assigned to the male inhabitants of the house.
There are many passageways, small courtyards and staircases build inside the house. All what can be seen is deliberatelly arranged and beautifully decorated. Dar El Annabi is huge house of an Tunisian up-middle class family.
There is flat roof with many terraces on the top of the house, which is traditional way of building houses in Tunisia. I was expected to see spanroofs here, which can much better protect the house against the heat. Flat roof, however, is conditioned here collecting the rainwater for the underground cisterns which can be found in every house.
Before leaving the house, take a look at the rich family library notorius for its manuscripts and ancient contracts. Visiting this house, I had oportunity to learn more about the daily life of an Tunisian family and it was exiting experience. Do not miss to visit Dar El Annabi when in Sidi Bou Said, am sure you'll like it.
The room with Moresque architecture serving especially for entertaining and receiving guests. Nowadys it is animated by waxworks exibited like life itself in the traditional costumes for important occasions.
Besides collecting the rainwater, terraces serves as a space where inmates spend most of the time after sunrises until late in the night. In the very hot nights most of them sleep up here on refreshing air.
At the highest point of the village, on Avenue Taieb Mahiri, there is a lighthouse. It was built by the French in the 19th century on the site of Sidi Bou Saïd's ribat (fort), of which there is sadly nothing left to see.
While the lighthouse was locked behind closed doors, it was worth noting that one of the doors was yellow instead of Sidi Bou Saïd's trademark blue. The main interest in coming here is for the excellent overhead shots of the village and, further off into the distance, Carthage's Byrsa Hill.
From Place Sidi Bou Saïd, take Rue Sidi Bou Fares, then turn left on Avenue Taieb Mahiri, which overlooks the village.