Fadhloun Mosque - Djerba
Fadhloun Mosque is located in the northwest of the island, in the Khazroun quarter, not far from the historic site of Henchir Bourgou. It probably dates to the 8th century of Hegira, which correlate to the 14th century AD.
At the first glance, from the distance, it appears as an fortress and in fact, the mosque was a part of a chain of mosques, not far from the coast, that formed a second line of defense in case of enemy attack. Originally it was an Ibadite mosque which later passed into the hands of Malekites.
The mosque consists of three parts; Mesjid (prayer hall), Kuttab (Koranic school) and Midha (ablution room). Kuttab is flanked by two small rooms, one was a bedroom and the other a storeroom for food supplies. Outbuildings including underground grain mill and bakery. On the top of the Mesjid is a squat minaret.
Mill and bakery confirm that the mosque had an economic base enabling it to cover its expenses.Related to:
- Family Travel
City camel tour in Djerba
Dferba is specific because it offers the possibility of riding a camel within the populate areas. It is quite understandable that you do not have full freedom of moving around, but with the camel guide that will take you around. Guide will carry you where you want with the restriction that he will not enter into the center of an settlement because there camel may scare and lose control.
The biggest problem is to climb onto the camel and then comfortably accommodate there. Camel is in generally very quiet animal but its hump is not a comfortable place, especially when the camel moves.Related to:
- Family Travel
Chott el-Djerid is a 1,930-square-mile (5,000-square-kilometer) salt flat located in southern Tunisia near the Algerian border. (chott is Arabic for "salt flat"). It was formed when an ancient saltwater lake evaporated, leaving a perfectly flat lake bed covered with a layer of salt.
For about two months of the year, shallow water from intermittent rains covers the surface of the lake bed. For the other ten months, it is dry. According to local legend, it is possible to cross the chott on foot, although should anyone stray from the recommended path, he would sink into the thick mud, or quicksand, lying just under the crust of salt and perish. There is a story from the fourteenth century about 1,000 camels and their attendants who died when they sunk into the quicksand.
Nowadays, a causeway crosses the chott from Kebili to Tozeur. Along the way are small souvenir stalls where visitors can buy bags of pure salt from the chott, as well as other local souvenirs such as desert roses.
Day 1: Your driver will pick you up from your Tozeur hotel in the morning. From there you will drive to Nefta, a near-by oasis with a stunning palmeraie. After looking at the beautiful view of this oasis from above, you will continue on to the dunes of Rejim Maatoug, just 25km from the Algerian border. Mid-morning will see you at El Faouar, before you continue your journey to Douz for lunch. From Douz you will drive to Ksar Ghilane and have your first taste of the endless expanse of desert. If you’re lucky, you will end your day with traditional song and dance at Campement El Biben, where you will sleep for the night.
Day 2: After a relaxing breakfast at the Campement, you will have the opportunity to go for a swim at the natural hot springs of Ksar Ghilane, or perhaps hire a quad bike or go for a horse ride in the Sahara. Then you will journey by camel into the Sahara where you will feast on a barbecue dinner before retiring under the stars.
Day 3: You will return to Ksar Ghilane by camel in the morning. Following this, you will journey to Ksar Hallouf to experience traditional southern architecture and to Toujane to witness stunning landscapes. Lunch will be taken in Matmata, where you may also visit a troglodyte dwelling, and go to the Hotel Sidi Driss, made famous as Lars’ Homestead in the Star Wars films. After lunch you will begin the drive back to Tozeur, via the stunning Chott el Jerid salt lake.
Day 3: You will return to Ksar Ghilane by camel in the morning. Following this, you will journey to
Ksar Hallouf and Ksar Hedada to experience traditional southern architecture and to Tataouine, the
namesake of the desert planet Tatooine in George Lucas’ blockbuster hit films, Star Wars. You will drive
through Toujane to witness stunning landscapes. Lunch will be taken in Matmata, where you may also
visit a troglodyte dwelling, and go to the Hotel Sidi Driss, made famous as Lars’ Homestead in the
Star Wars films. After lunch you will begin the drive back to Tozeur, via the stunning Chott el Jerid salt lake.
There are also 2 day trips. Incredible landscapes, unseen beauty, hard to get to places, and local customs that will blow your mind!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Chemtou: looking for golden . . . stones :-)))
Ici brille le rocher doré des Numides (Stace, IAD)
Chemtou is a real off the beaten path. It is not easy to reach if you are travelling by public transport soo after visiting 467833458833 archaeological sites in Tunisia there was no need to go there. In fact what attracted me of this site was not its archaeological interest but its origins which are also the source of the most beautiful ancient buildings around Tunisia and in the ancient world: the marble of Chemtou.
Simitthus has Numidian origins and since then it was known by its marble which had a nice mix of orange, red, yellow and pink colours. It became a roman settlement during the reign of Augustus (27BC) and thanks again to the marble soon became a wealthy city. It spread around the mountain, with the free men living to the west, and the prisoners who worked the quarries to the east. All Roman functions were established here and there were also some constructions to the citizens’ entertainment like the theatre or the amphitheatre. The quarries worked until Byzantine times and abandoned during 7th century due to the Arab invasion.
The marble of Chemtou is the beautiful result of a long geological process that lasted 225-250 millions of years. Time, temperature, strength (pressure) and water originated these stones used to construct great buildings like the Pantheon in Rome, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or the Gymnasium in Athens. And rain gave the colours! Water rain, rich in oxygen, penetrated into the faults of these rocks and gave all those kind of tonalities from dark red to golden yellow (the most appreciated one) and white-blue by the oxidation of iron. Known as the golden stone or golden marble it will be the favourite stone for Romans to build their villas and the quarrying operations in Chemtou were the most sophisticated in the Roman world. After the murder of Julius Cesar, Roman people built a commemorative column using Chemtou marble.
For more information about Chemtou, please check my Chemtou page
Directions: North West of Tunisia, in the middle of nowhere!
Ask a trustworthy local
Tunisia is a very lovely country and people are really generous, but snares are all over. If you wanna have an unusual trip, try to ask a local that looks reliable. Mastering bookish English is a sign that the person offering to help you is really dependable. A good education and a high English fluency and accuracy are signs of a higher level of education and that the person you are dealing with is a student or an unemployed graduate trying to make a living.
Unlicenced guides are in the majority and they usually know better places and hidden corners that may be of real interest.
I personally have worked as one during my university years at one of the English departments.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Beni Mtir:Alsacian village on Tunisia mountains
My guidebook describes Beni M’tir as an Alsacian village in the middle of Khroumirie Mountains. I have never been in Alsace but the feeling that I had when I jumped off the bus is that I was not in Tunisia! Beni M’tir was built by the French workers of the first hydroelectric dam in Tunisia. Originally from Alsace, they tried to build their new houses following the same style in order not to feel homeless. Especially beautiful (and unique in Tunisia) the market square(picture 2).
Oh! You can go to Beni M’tir by bus from Ain Draham. The road to go there, in the middle of the mountains, is very beautiful. There are only two daily buses, by 7:00 a.m. and at 12:30 a.m. This last one is also the last bus to go back to Ain Draham so after 1:00 p.m. you will be blocked there. To leave this blessed place I had to share a taxi until the smiling village of Fernana and from there took a louage until Ain Draham. I don’t know if the place deserves all that Odyssey :-))
Directions: North West of Tunisia
Takrouna: overlooking the world
Takrouna is one of the few Berber villages that you will find on the Dorsale Mountains. Maybe this name sounds familiar to someone: at Takrouna took place one of the 2WW definitive battles where the New Zealanders made the Germans leave their position, on 12th April 1943. Apart from this it is said that Takrouna offers the best sunset in Tunisia. My visit to Takrouna was a little disappointing: almost abandoned, the few families that still remain there have transformed their houses in touristy restaurants and gift shops. Only some streets (picture 3) and the zawyia keep their original charm. But its location, on the top of a rock is very impressive(picture 2) and the views from there are superb: the Mediterranean Sea on the east and Zaghouan Mountains on the west. If you are staying in Hammamet, Takrouna is a nice idea for a day trip
Directions: Central East of Tunisia
Dorsale Mountains; the nearest town is Enfidha
Port au Prince
This is the perfect place for a relaxing day trip from Tunis. An unknown place in Tunisia, even for most of the locals, it is on the Cap Bon area, at 20 Km from Soliman, and you can reach it only by car. The name of Port au Prince comes from a French prince who was kidnapped here (well, this is what people told me :-) ). Nowadays this is one of the few remaining “plage sauvages” in Tunisia. Calm, almost empty, some fishermen will be your only company. And it is nice because you have all the green tonalities at only few meters from the sea . . . (pictures 2 and 3) Ah! There are also the “griffes de sorcière”!! I “discovered” these yellow, orange and pink flowers, the ficoïdes, for the first time here (picture 4) :-). Finally, the only think that I know from that fortress at the end of the first picture is that Bourguiba’s wife used it to do some private parties with her friends. Nowadays it is National Wealth and you cannot visit it.
Directions: North of Tunisia
Cap Bon, 20km from Soliman
Hammam Lif: this is the real Tunis
Hammam Lif is an interesting place that deserves more than my short visit. We are still in Tunis, in the “banlieue sud” and unlike their banlieue nord neigbours, good standing people but also posh and sometimes hypocrites, the Hammam Lif inhabitants have accepted their reality and they always smile. Hammam Lif means in Arabic “the baths’ nose” and for many years, but especially during the XIX th century it was a very known spa centre reputedly good for clearing the sinuses. Here we have a special micro clime, not humid because even if it is a place by the sea it is protected by Bou Kornine, the two humps mountain that you can see from everywhere in Tunis. Hammam Lif’s history is quite recent: no ancient medina but a perfectly squared suburb with beautiful examples of Italian colonial architecture (picture 2) and palm trees. Even if some houses would need a general lifting you still can imagine how was life there two centuries ago when the Bey, his family and other nobility came here to have some baths and to do some winter walks along the corniche. A good witness of this past is the Grand Hotel “Le Casino”,
(picture 3) that accomodated guests like Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo and was also used for some Hercules Poirot shots. Nowadays Hammam Lif is especially interesting in summer nights when people go out to promenade and enjoy the afternoon breezes. All the corniche (picture 1) is full of music, stalls and simple restaurants with local food (picture 4). It is a good place to do some people watching and see the real Tunis.
Directions: Tunis, banlieue sud
Old Roman ruins
Instead of heading to Tunis, and the thousands of tourists wandering around there every day, why not head to El Jem, between Sousse and Sfax, and wander around the old Roman colosseum - the largest one in North Africa, and a UNESCO World heritage site - for a while. It's in incredibly good condition, and while the town itself is a bit of a dust-bowl, the museum - with a history of the area (see next tip) - and the colosseum combined make it a worthwhile few hours. There are 4 trains a day from Sousse, though on the way back, if you take the AEX train (very smart and new), you have to take a taxi into Sousse from the station.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Maktar: border roman city
Maktar village (200km from Tunis) is from another planet!. Situated on the top of a hill at 1000 m, time has stopped there. All men wear long tunics ended with a hood like jedi knights (are you sure that starwars was not shot here?!) and looked at me like if i was an alien! I had never had this unkind feeling visiting a place so I went directly to the roman remains, which were the purpose of my visit.
On the contrary ancient Mactaris is very interesting. A border village, the reason of its existance was clearly for military purposes. Maybe from punic origins, it was later under the hands of Carthaginians, then Numidians (who used id as a stronghold against Cartago) and later romans (IIth century bC) who converted Mactaris in a prosperous city. Vandals and Byzantines left their mark as well and the city changed from one people to another one until the XIth century, when it was destroyed during the Hilalian invasions.
Mactaris is not as important as other sites like Dougga or Sbeitla but if you like Archaeology you will find it very, very interesting because you can see different constructions and different building techniques from almost all the periods. The general layout and topography don't allow you to have "une vue d'ensemble" but I enjoyed especially the public baths (the finest baths in Tunisia), the numidian tombs (picture 2) (i had never seen numidian remains!), the christian church (picture 3), which has already three naves and a kind of ambulatory and the Schola Juventum, a very rare building in a roman city.
There is a small museum at the entrance where you can see some mosaics and all kind of gravestones from different periods. I found this gravestone (picture 4) very funny as the inscription says "tomb of the Christian Laurentius, who lived 31 years, 8 months and 3 hours"
Maktar is off-off the beaten path and even if there are direct connections i strongly recommend you not to use the public transportation as the louage's offer to go to big cities like Tunis, Kairouan or Sousse is very low compared to the demand. Again i had to use my "lady techniques" to have a place to go back to Tunis but i risked a lot to stay there and finish with a hooked tunic me too :-(((
Directions: Central West of Tunisia
In the middle of nowhere
Zaghouan: water temple
Twenty minutes walk from the main street and surrounded by beautiful scenery there is this roman monument called the water temple (Temple des Eaux). It’s the first monument of the big water system used to supply the roman city of Carthage in general and specifically its Antonin Baths. It was built during the II nd century AD and the galleries have 12 niches used to put the life size statues of the 12 months. In the middle there is the cella, the most sacred part of the temple, typical example of the African style architecture of that time. Inside there was the source that represented the first step of this water system and it was permanently surveyed by the statue of God Neptune. Its location is very impressive. It’s believed that local people did some kind of rituals dedicated to the water here.
More info and pictures in my page about Zaghouan
Directions: Central East of Tunisia
Zaghouan: public fountains
Zaghouan does not serve water to Carthage any more but their public fountains still work and they are very helpful for locals and for tourists like me during hot days. They are very colorful, decorated with ceramic tiles in Andalusian style and their water is so fresh and good . . . directly from the mountains!
More info and pictures in my page about Zaghouan
Directions: Central East of Tunisia
Zaghouan: fresh water from the mountains
Zaghouan is situated 60km south of Tunis, at the foot of Zaghouan Mountain (1295m). It was a roman city (Ziqua), that administrated one of the most important water resources of Carthage and you still can see some remains from this period. Apart from this roman remains I decided to visit this city mainly because I read that the new village was built in Andalusian style by Spanish immigrants during the 17th century. But it does not matter what made me go there, Zaghouan was a beautiful surprise to me: the climbing narrow streets, the public fountains decorated with tiles, the mountains and the biggest surprise, the water temple! At the end Zaghouan was a great Sunday trip
Zaghouan is underrated here on VT and it’s a pity. That’s why I' ve decided to build a small page about Zaghouan
Directions: Central East of Tunisia
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