Sousse has a very long history. It was a Phoenician outpost (Hadrumetum), a free Roman city (Byzacium), a vandal town (Hunericopolis) and finally the Byzantine city of Justiniana or Justinianopolis.
Nothing of these settlements remains, for in the early years of the Hegira, Justinianopolis was entirely destroyed after a two-month siege by Ifriqiya, Oqba ibn Nafìi.
The present day Medina was built in the late 7th century the ruins and given its present name, Sousse was a completely new city. The massive walls were completed over the next 200 years, and they now surround the city, from the Kasbah in the southwest, to the Grand Mosque and Ribat in the northeast corner.
The medina is a maze of narrow alleys, winding and twisting about. It is oh so easy to get lost or disoriented, as one can rarely see the sky. Sometimes locals will approach, and strike up a conversation. They will suggest coming with them to see something interesting, and pointy out sights along the way. You have just been grabbed by a tout, and a fee will be required to escape. So if this happens, try not to be overly generous, or to offer too little.
Highlights inside are the Grand Mosque, the many souks (gold and spice), the ribat and the Kasbah itself.
The Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The oldest part of town.
A medina quarter is a distinct city section found in many North African cities. The medina is typically walled, contains many narrow and maze-like streets, and was built by Arabs as far back as the 9th century CE.
It's not small, Sousse's medina. But it's a fascinating place to just wander around. There's even a red-light district in its north , with only one entrance...not that I even attempted to go there!
Apart from the Great Mosque and the Ribat, you can also visit the Kasbah (still closed for renovations when I went) which has a museum with some nice Roman mosaics and a couple of 'house' museums (neither of which I managed to find on my shortish visit in extreme heat).
And there's the souk, of course. Quite a big one, with shops selling everything you could possibly want. I didn't find it a hassle, but I rarely do get hassled; your experience might be different. Quite a lot of the shops selling tourist-aimed items are 'prix fixe' (fixed price) so if you don't fancy haggling you can still find things to buy.
I didn't get lost in the souk or the medina, but I did have a good map with me. Without, it would have been difficult to get my bearings. It's quite difficult to work out where you are, as so few of the meandering roads and alleyways have signs (most are in Arabic anyway) and so many streets are covered (with goods, or with roofs, or with shades of some type). The latter also makes it more difficult to spot older architecture, although I managed to see one or two things.
When you've explored the souk just spend some time wandering the medina streets. Keep your eyes open for Roman columns..they are dotted about everywhere, evidence of Sousse's ancient past. And watch out for studded doors and detailed doorways too. Lots of people seem to live in the medina, so there's plenty of evidence of day-to-day life to be seen.....people0watching is always fascinating.
Right in the centre, it's close to Bab Jedid station. Walk on Ave Mohammed Ali, Boulevard Yahia ben Omar, and Ave Marechal Tito and Ave Sudon to do pretty much a full circle.
Medina is one of the highlights of any visit to Sousse, and the first examination of it is best made by following the walls. An imposing fortification, it is almost 25 feet high and is further strengthened by a a number of square turrets.
Old Byzantine walls stood on roughly the same line, but where replaced when Aghlabids came to the city
The medina in Sousse is nice. Very crowded of course, but that's to be expected. You can visit the Mosque - they'll cover you up before they let you go in if you're wearing a skirt or a tank top. Next to the entrance to the medina is a regular shop, that is with fixed prices, which can be a relief if you could use a break from all the bargaining! Like in Hammamet, the medina is not far from the beach, so you can walk on the beach to get there.
There were originally six gates, of which two survive: Bab el Khabli on the south side and Bab el Gharbi on the west. The gate on the east side, Bab el Djedid, dates only from 1864. The walls of the Medina, which were first built by the Arabs in 859 AD extend for approx 2.25km (1.5 miles) and are 8m high and are fortified with a series of solid square turrets.
The Medina, situated on rising ground above the harbour in Sousse, is surrounded by a 2.25km/1.5miles circuit of walls built in 859 and renovated and strengthened in 874 and 1205. The massive blocks of dressed stone in the walls came from ancient Roman buildings. There were originally six gates, of which two survive: Bab el Khabli on the south side and Bab el Gharbi on the west. The gate on the east side, Bab el Djedid, dates only from 1864. Measuring 1km by about 500m, the Medina of Sousse is one of the finest examples of Arab architecture in Tunisia, preserved almost unchanged over the centuries. Within the walls lie some 24 mosques (12 for men and 12 for women), including the Grand Mosque, the Ribat and many souqs including stalls selling fruit and vegetables. More photo's can be found on one of my travelogues.
The medina is almost completely surrounded by ramparts and the best place to see them is in the south-west corner, outside the Kasbah museum. The only gap in the ramparts is at Place Farhat Rachad in the north-east corner. This section was destroyed in WW2 following Allied bombing. Access to the ramparts is restricted. The only place you can climb the walls is in the Kasbah museum and you'll have to pay the museum entry fee for the privilige.
Many people visit Sousse for its beach but the highlight of the city is the medina. It's one of the largest medinas in the country and is home to two impressive monuments - the Ribat and the Mosque - as well as an excellent museum in the old Kasbah. The medina is surrounded by ramparts which data from the 9th century, build around the same time as the Ribat and the Mosque.
Given the large numbers of tourists in Sousse it's not surprising that many of the shops in the medina are tourist-traps, aimed at visitors. This is especially true in the north-eastern end, near the main monuments and close to where the medina opens out onto the new town.
Away from this section the medina seems much more traditional with old buildings, small mosques and very few tourists. It's very easy to wander off-the-beaten path in the medina and the friendly locals will always help you if you get lost.
Medina of Sousse is on UNESCO World Heritage List because it is almost untouched from the centuries and gives the visitor the idea how the towns from the first centuries of Islam looked like. Medina is surrounded by 2km long city walls built in 859 using stone from ancient Roman buildings and then was renovated in 874 and 1205. From the 6th gates existed originally only two survived till our times: ab el Khabli on the south and Bab el Gharbi on the west. The east gate Bab el Djedid, dates from 1864.
Kasbah, Ribat and the Great Mosque are some of the monuments there.
The Medina in Sousse is one of the oldest in Tunis. A medina is what used to be the old town surrounded by town walls. It's the place where the traditional market is where you haggle for a deal and where you can get anything form spices to leather goods. There are also a number of beautiful traditional cafes inside the medina and a typical blue and white paint on some of the windows and gates.
Visit medina markets, good for trading some items off 100% :)
Buy leather, handicraft, jewels, spices, clothes. Must trade hard.
But not only markets are worth to visit. You can find interestin quiet Old Town streets, Rabat (old castle, climb to tower for 3 din), Big Mosque, Mosaique museum.