Tunis is the capital city of Tunisia that offers a great blend of ancient and modern culture but still proud of its age-old traditions and cultures. The early settlers here in Tunisia were the Berber and Phoenician people who built the great city of Carthage (located near the modern Tunis). The Romans destroyed Carthage and made the region a province of Rome. In A.D. 439, Tunis was conquered by a group of people called Vandals who invaded from Spain. It then passed into the hands of Christian soldiers from Byzantium (now Istanbul, in Turkey).
Today, over half of the population lives in the capital city that offers a great mix of the old and new. Most of the Tunisians are of Arab descent and in some areas many people still wear the long gown that is the traditional Arab clothing. The people of Tunis enjoy a standard of living that is improving steadily. The city has been able to achieve this since its varied natural resources, progressive tourism, and close economic ties with Europe have made it wealthier than much of the other cities in Africa.
When To Go:
The capital city of Tunis’
atmosphere is basically Mediterranean, so summers can become extremely hot, especially further south especially along the Sahara. Winters in the north can be severe, with the temperature drifting in the lowest range. December to February and its cold breeze is not the best time to go and visit this city.
Te most perfect time to visit the city are in the springtime, especially from April to June, when the fields in the north are a picture of sprouting poppies and the apricot season is at its peak of the harvest season and again in September and October when the edge falls off the late spring high temperature and the first date fruits are gathered in the rural areas of Tunis.
Here are a list of attractions to enjoy and
things to do
while in the city of Tunis:
is an amazing place for those who love the mosaics in a structure that is partly unsuitable. The acclaimed museum (the 2nd most important museum of Africa after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo) collects an impressive amount of Roman mosaics that are very large and well preserved. There are rooms devoted to the beautiful and statuesque style. There are also some environments where it is understood that the palace was the former residence of the Ottoman viceroy. There are many facilities that are modern and recently opened. This move from the old lounges ultra-modern space is a bit confusing and in addition to the exhibit rooms. It is best to get a guide when you get to the structured labyrinthine part of the museum and in order to not get lost while inside the huge museum.
The discreet library offer items for sale (incredibly credit cards are NOT accepted). For a museum that is so great, it is quite surprising that there are no bars or restaurants located within its vicinity to eat or drink anything during or after a visit which is certainly not short given the size of the museum. Nonetheless, you have to go out, get a hundred yards across an expressway and resort to find an outdoor cafe. The museum is located a few kilometers from the city center. To access this place form the city center, use the tram stop which is near the main entrance of the famous museum in Tunis City.
is located in the heart of the Medina of Tunis. You cannot tour all part of mosque; the prayer hall has access allowed only for Muslims. By purchasing a ticket you have a chance to visit some parts of the mosque, however, the large courtyard still deserves to be seen. Despite not having the dimensions of the Great Mosque of Kairouan it is still an excellent example of Islamic architecture. For the only way to see its entirety is to get on the roof terrace of the nearby carpet shop “Au Palais d ‘Orient’ and watch from a distance. Still, it is a majestic Mosque of Islamic culture.
Its minaret suddenly appears in front of you and you would not see it if you are coming from the medina. The structure consists of a white marble courtyard with a portico around which you can see an impressive prayer room and a library with some signs saying it is forbidden to non-Muslims. In its construction were also used numerous materials taken from the ancient Roman ruins of the Carthage. You can see it from a different perspective by climbing on the roof of one of the many bazaars that surround it.
Medina of Tunis
Medina of Tunis
is a World Heritage Site and a visit is truly satisfying if you get around and see what Tunis has to offer from the row of shops located inside the huge market. It is filled with narrow streets with many small shops engaged in popular trade and alleys with traders that are always haggling for the cheapest price the buyer can afford with. Learn how to haggle and prices may drop to less than 20% of the initial requested price of the item you desire. It is an exciting place, full of aromas winding alleys, crafts, and shops.
The Medina of Tunis is lined with labyrinthine alleys of local artisans clothing, scarves, decoration, teas, spice shops, with constant presence of donkeys with loads of products on their back inching their way into a place that is very alive and a good way to get in touch with local commerce without forgetting to negotiate while buying a local product from Tunis.
The structure of the
looks dated but functional. It has a beautiful view from the front desk that overlooks a pool with the sea as background. The rooms are large and clean with a few basic necessities provided to make it comfortable and all have a balcony. The sea is really nice and the colors are of typical Caribbean beach surrounded by fine white sand. It has a very nice walking area from the village up to the wreck where it is possible to live a heavenly atmosphere, crystal clear waters and fine white beach where you can enjoy lots of things to do in the short-range perimeter of the area (swim at sea, stroll alone or with your partner to make priceless memories.
The town of Kélibia does offer much especially at night with its line of typical bars to drink green tea, coffee or alcohol, the few shops in the city are mostly dedicated to local. There are also lots of fine dining areas where your palate can explore. On the way from the village to the city you can see an open dump, garbage and dirt everywhere, all under an imposing fortress that dominates the city. The only negative note, the food, being sold to the village 4 stars, alas, is located on a mid-range area with long queues of tourists who mainly favor the buffet service in the evening.
Mosque Sidi Youssef
Mosque Sidi Youssef
is a very picturesque Islamic center with its octagonal minaret that ends at the top with a tiny pyramid covered with green tiles. This religious structure is not to be confused with the other Hammouda Pacha Mosque because of the similar style of minaret. Both mosques are located near the Mosque Zitouna which is the main landmark of the medina. It ‘was made in early 1600 for artisans Turkish Hanafi who worked in the souks of the medina and its minaret was the first octagonal built in the medina. Inside there is a courtyard, a prayer hall with arched galleries and the mausoleum where he is buried along with its creator Youssef Dey, but this part is not open for visitors.
Amid the shops and row of bazaars, the Sidi Youssef Mosque stands – one of the main architectural attractions of the Ottoman era. The towering minaret of the mosque was built since 1616 making it one of the oldest buildings in the city. The prayer hall is surrounded by 48 columns, capitals decorated in antique style. The prayer rooms are extraordinary from the artistic point of view and you can breathe an air of intense concentration. The mosque is right in the heart of the medina and is easily identifiable thanks to the towering minaret on the skyline of Tunis. The open mosque is conveniently located on the busy streets of the Rue Sidi Ben Ziyad, just in front of the Government Palace.
Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
is a catholic church that is just a stone’s throw away from the Medina of Tunis the central part of the capital city. The famous cathedral looks great as it looks out on the Independence Square, which divides the Bourguiba Avenue de France with the Bab El Bhar, one of the major entrances to the Medina. For some people, it may seem odd to find a Catholic church in a Muslim country but in Tunisia there are other places of worship for Catholics like the small church of Hammamet, the church dedicated to St. Augustine and Fedele, where there is also a statue the Madonna of Trapani, the Goulette that stands right across the famous mosques of the cities too.
In one of its adjacent rooms, you can have the pleasure of meeting the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who care for the elderly and poor people in Tunis.
More known as the Cathedral of Tunis, the church has a little ‘neo-Romanesque and some’ neo-Byzantine architectural styles. The overall interior is very spacious, well maintained, and is frequented mostly by workers or the Sub-Saharan Africans of the Catholic faith, as the community of the French and the Italians have been swept away by the nationalism of President Bourguiba after the mid-50s and the 1900s. The opening hours are a bit tight and it is advisable to visit after the mass in the morning and mid-afternoon service (except for Sunday’s Holy Mass where it remains open until 6:00 pm).
North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial
North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial
is worth a visit while in Tunis because of its significant role in history. From the street where most cars pass this site it is already clearly visible. From the inside you can see English style lawns that are all green and lush and hundreds of large white crosses that are perfectly aligned with each other. It is the rightful place for the American soldiers of the war in which they can find the peace that they deserve. with these cut lawns English all green and lush and hundreds of large white crosses perfectly aligned with each other. It is a calm place for the late 2,841 American soldiers of World War II in which they can find the peace they rightfully deserve.
The American cemetery is located in the most beautiful region in the hills of Tunis Carthage. It has a few acres of green grass, flowers and a wide variety of trees. Credit goes to the US embassy teams that takes good care of the cemetery and maintains it perfectly as a way of paying tribute to the dead soldiers on the battlefield and disappeared from the great war. If you need to find solace and comfort, the cemetery has a beautiful nature walk that is very relaxing and safe to stroll with.
Bab El Bhar
In effect, the Port de France marks the boundary between the ancient and the modern Tunis. It is here in the gates of
Bab El Bhar
that all the architectural features typical of an Arab country with the attached culture greets everyone who comes to this entrance doors to Medina. It’s definitely worth to go beyond this door and further into the medina that most visitors say is just one among the most beautiful structure built in the Maghreb. The Port de France is just one of the 8 doors that marked the historic center of Tunis.
It is not only one of the main entrances of the Medina; it is also one of the most visited places by tourists who visit Tunis. It is constantly guarded by police to avoid the tourists and locals from being harassed by sellers and beggars. The square is adorned by a fountain with more proceeds that is placed at the level of the pavement. By passing through the door you enter through the narrow streets of the medina of Tunis. It is cute and well maintained. There are many nearby shops, especially shops that prepare the wedding needs (clothes, henna, baskets, gifts, etc) of every Tunisian bride.
Dar Bach Hamba
The beautiful building of the
Dar Bach Hamba
is a historic part of the city but unfortunately it is now in poor condition. It is the classic home of the noble families of Tunis during the early 50s. Currently it is managed by the Foundation Orestiadi and it contains an ethnographic museum that shows the connections between the two shores of the Mediterranean.
It has valuable collections of clothes and an original exhibition of paper figures, conceptually borrowed from the Chinese shadows. If you visit the Medina, a visit to Dar Bach Hamba is a must to admire the architecture of the time (pretty much the only building open to visitors), and see the efforts made by the Foundation to establish a permanent cultural preservation in this country.
It is a very large square formed by the huge gatherings located on the edge of the Medina of Tunis. The
is where you can find the City Hall of Tunis, office of the ministries, government offices and the headquarters of the prime minister. The streets and the square are both heavily guarded. It is always particularly crowded because the best dining places and entertainment centers are located right across the row of government offices.
The futuristic setting of the square is in contrast to the old houses of the Kasbah, in fact the modernity of the granite paving, the municipal building, a monument to the country and its elevation with respect to the narrow streets of the medina make it seem out of place in the context in which it is located. It’s the birthplace of the Arab Spring and the Jasmine Revolution. It is the historical and political heart of the city where meeting points and protest are usually held. It is just outside the medina and stands close to the Palace of the Government.
Tunis is a city that is developing very rapidly and helping its politically troubled country stand up on its own again. Everything here is focused on tourism which is currently one of the main sources of revenue for the country. Every attraction and sites to see offer colors of being grand, diverse, and highlights the interesting culture of its people. If you plan a holiday in Tunisia, do not forget to visit the capital city of Tunis because there is so much to learn and discover from this enchanting place that proudly stands and faces the equally beautiful Mediterranean Sea.