The Medina of Tunis is the largest in all the country, dates from the ninth-eleventh century AD, under the Almohads ans Hafsids regimes (12-17th centuries AD) the Medina lived their most glorious days. When the frenchs came they demolish the outer walls, actually is a maze of narrow streets full of shops for tourists, and includes more than 700 monuments to visit. The Medina was declared World Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1979.
As in most of the cities i´ve visited in the country, the windows are a particular reference, beautiful carved, recently painted and very well kept, maybe they are one of the most authentic feautures of Tunisia.
I visited the Medina twice, the first time it was a National Holiday, so the Medina was almost empty, and all the shops were closed, i really enjoy these moments, i could enjoy all the constructions details of the city, the beautiful painted-wood panels, some painted sarcophagus and the beautiful doors and windows. Next time it was a normal day and it was completely different hundreds of souvenirs shops opened, with lots of people offering their stuff, and hordes of tourists.
The Zitouna or Olive Tree Mosque is the main Mosque of Tunis, the original building was built in the 9th century by Emir Aghlabide Abou Il Abbés Mohamed (the minaret was added in the 19th century). The Mosque it´s a place of worship but also a educational center, and it´s open to non-muslim vistors from 8.oo am to noon (2 dinars entrance fee) but the visit is restricted to a gallery at the entrance.
The Bourgiba avenue is specially lively at night, all the cafés and restaurants are full of people. It´s nice to enjoy a tea in one of the many terraces and watch the people go by, families and even groups of girls are walking along the boulevard, something very unusual in other small cities of Tunisia, where is very dificult to see women during the night.
This avenue is the main axis of the city, and is crowded with outdoors cafés and restaurants. The Avenue starts in the Clock Tower and finish in the Bab el Bahr or the Gate of the Sea. The avenue contains some of the main points of interest of the Ville Nouvelle as the Cathedral of Saint Vincent of Paul, the French Embassy and the Municipal Theatre. The avenue is the city´s place to see and be seen, people walk both sides of the avenue and then stop for a tea or a coffe in some of the many cafés. It´s specially lively during the night, when the buildings are illuminated. I liked the french flavour of the avenue, it reminds me the Parisian Champs Elisees.
This beautiful Art Noveau building located in the Bourgiba Avenue is the main and most famous theatre in Tunisia. It´s not the original building ( a first theatre was delomished to construct this bigger one), and was rebuilt by Jean Emile Resplandy in 1911. This original building is also called the Candy Box. It´s specially attractive when is illuminated during the night.
This 38 meters tall illuminated tower is located in one of the main squares of the city the Place du 7 November, at the beggining of the Grand Bourgiba Avenue. The tower it´s made of bronze coloured steel and was built to conmemorate the Independence Day of Tunisia. Now is one of the landmarks of the city.
The interior of the Museum is a mixture of styles, the museum has been adapted to diferent tendencies during the centuries, but maybe the most interesting details are the ones from the Arab Muslim period.
The Museum houses a great variety of Roman Statues, i´ve included some pictures of then in this tip, but this Apollo of the 2n century Ad (the god of prophecy, of musical and artistic inspiration) from the Carthage theather is one of my favourites.
During the 2nd and 4rd centuries Ad, this part of the Roman Empire became very wealthy due to the trade of Olive Oil and wheat, so the rich owners of the villas commissioned mosaics to decorate their homes. The dry and warm climate of Tunis is maybe the reason why these mosaics are so well preserved.
This hall was originally the patio of the palace, and expose mostly statues of the Roman Carthage area, there are also statues from other roman cities of Tunisia as Dougga and Oudna. Also shows some huge Roman mosaics and bas-reliefs.
This magnificent masterpiece is maybe the most famous mosaic in the museum, it represents the portrait of Virgil between two muses: Calliope the Muse of Poetry and Melopene the Muse of Tragedy. Virgil holds in his hands a parchment containing the verses of the Aeneid.
I had heard of this museum (specially about the roman mosaics) so when we travelled to Tunis i was specially interested in this place, and is really a great museum, more of what i´d expected. The Roman mosaic collection is really impressive, and the building is also wonderful. The museum is located in the outskirts of the city, inside a Hafside palace originally built in the 13th century then expanded during centuries and finally restored in the 17 and 18th century in the Muslim Arab style. The museum is divided in five departments corresponding to stages of the Tunisian History, these departments are:
But the main treasure of the museum are the Romanic Mosaics, the Roman tile mosaics cover entire floors. We spent a whole morning visiting the museum but if you want to have a close look to these masterpieces a full day is the minimun time recommended.
One day excursion by bus, 4x4, or boat
1.Going to Medenine by the Roman road to visite the grain cellars of Ghorfas, Tataouine and
its nomade market, Chenini a Berber village up in the mountains ( about 45-65 DT)
2.By bus : Gabés-Matmata DT 55.
Visiting the oasis of Gabés and meeting troglodytes living in a beautiful lunar landscape
3.Boatexcursion 45 DT
Nice excursion to see the island of the flamingos and dolphins underway.
Two days excursions
1. Ksar Ghilane by landrover 150 DT
Vsite Médenine, go to Ksar Ghilane an oasis at the edge of the Sahara.Sleep in the tents
of the nomads.Next dayvisite the village of Chenini and the market of Tataouine.
2. Douz, Tamerza and Red Lezard 170 DT
Visite Gabès, Matmata and Douz, the door to the Sahara.Cross the Chott el djerid, the
biggest salted lake of north Africa.Visite the beautiful mountain oasis of Cébika and
Tamerza.Take the 'Red Lezard'the famous train to cross impressive canyons.(my favorite)
Rue Mendes France, Carthage, 2016, Tunisia
Good for: Couples
Very nice people run the hotel Nice, picturesque town Near Carthage archeological sites Internet...more
15 rue Sidi Bou Fares, Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business