The Republic of Tunisia is a beautiful country on the African continent. It is famous for the ruins of Carthage, ancient palaces, wide beaches and warm sea.
What to do in Tunisia
Tunisia is a popular tourist destination in North Africa. People are attracted by the calm environment, developed infrastructure, sunny weather and affordable prices.
For centuries, Tunisia belonged to different civilizations. Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks ruled here. These peoples left monuments that have become part of the world heritage. Every year, 8 million people come to the country to admire the central quarters of Muslim cities, the ruins of Carthage, the El Jem amphitheater and archaeological sites.
The resorts of Tunisia are widely known. The gentle Mediterranean Sea, golden sand and gently sloping coast are suitable for family holidays. There are good hotels and entertainment on the island of Djerba and in the cities of Sousse, Monastir, Hammamet. It offers tourists water attractions, bars, sightseeing tours by sea. Travelers go fishing, scuba diving, water skiing.
Tunisia is famous for its mineral springs. Healing water improves the functioning of the stomach, calms the nerves, and has a beneficial effect on the musculoskeletal system. The best sanatoriums await guests in Tabarka, Korbus, Hammamet.
In addition to traditional baths, thalassotherapy is offered to clients. Wellness treatments include hydromassage, mud therapy, algae wrap, aromatherapy.
In summer, people flock to the international festival of Carthage. The event highlights Mediterranean culture and contemporary art. For a whole month, art exhibitions are held in Carthage, famous musicians and dancers perform.
Tunisian cuisine was formed under the influence of different cultures, therefore it is distinguished by originality. When visiting local restaurants, you should try hot red pepper appetizers, chicken and potato stew, couscous with squid and baked fish.
The Phoenicians mastered the north of Africa in the 12th century BC, forming a powerful state that subjugated neighboring countries. The main city of the empire was Carthage. Years of wars exhausted the Phoenicians and, in the end, they were defeated by a strong Roman army, leveling the ancient capital to the ground.
The Romans soon regretted having destroyed Carthage. Julius Caesar ordered the city to be rebuilt and made the center of an African province. Today it is a suburb of the capital of Tunisia. Archaeological excavations are underway in the historical part. Scientists have discovered Roman temples, ancient cisterns for storing water, statues of gods and street fragments.
Amphitheater in El Jem
The city of El-Jem was built on the site of the ruins of the ancient settlement of Tizdr, which played a huge role in the cultural life of Ancient Rome. An amphitheater with a capacity of 30 thousand people has been preserved on its territory. The wide arena was used for chariot races, gladiator fights and was considered the third largest in the empire.
Under the rule of the Arabs, the construction began to be disassembled into stones, but still many parts have been preserved to this day. The remaining fragments are protected by UNESCO and are a popular attraction.
On the Mediterranean coast there is an archaeological park of Kerkuan. It contains the ruins of a city built by the Phoenicians. The exhibits found there made it possible to learn about the cultural features of the ancient civilization.
During excavations, scientists came across stone altars filled with bones, walls of residential buildings, divine temples. A large necropolis with unique sarcophagi and ritual objects was found not far from the city. The exhibits are stored in the archaeological museum of the city of Nabeul.
In the vicinity of Hammamet, fragments of the Roman city of Pupput, destroyed to the ground after the Arab conquest, have been preserved. Ancient structures were discovered by chance, clearing the area for the construction of houses. During the excavations, a residential quarter was discovered, in which there was a water supply system with an aqueduct and cisterns, a Roman necropolis.
Stone burial chambers are decorated with colorful mosaics and statues. Pottery, decorative items and jewelry were taken from the graves.
In the north of Tunisia, excavations of the city of Dougga are underway. The picturesque ruins cover an area of 65 hectares. The central object is the Roman amphitheater, which is used today for the annual music festival. In addition to the amphitheater, tourists can see the temples of Juno, Minerva, Jupiter, the sanctuary of Saturn and the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus.
The mausoleum of Ateban is of great historical value — the building belongs to the Phoenician era and dates back to 200 BC.
Medina of Tunisia
The historical center of the capital — Medina, was once surrounded by high walls. Now only the ancient gates of Bab Sidi Kasem and Bab el Bhar remained from them. Inside the Medina, there are narrow Arab streets lined with souvenir shops, coffee houses, and workshops.
In the labyrinth of alleys, magnificent historical monuments are hidden: the Al-Zaytuna Mosque, the Dar Lasram and Dar Al Jazeera palaces, and the madrasah.
The medieval architectural complex in the center of Sousse is a World Heritage Site. The medina, which has the shape of an elongated rectangle, is fortified on the western side by the Al-Khalef tower, and on the northern side by a sentinel watch fortress.
The entire area is surrounded by battlements. Inside it are old buildings with a bright oriental flavor. Walking through the Medina, you can see the Grand Mosque, houses of worship, madrassas, the mausoleum of Sidi-Burawi, the architectural ensemble of al-Kobba, an indoor market.
Habib Bourguiba Avenue
The central metropolitan street is named after the national leader and the first president of the republic, Habib Bourguiba. Trees have been planted along the wide avenue. High-rise buildings line the road on both sides. They open fashion boutiques, cafes, shopping centers, restaurants.
The long avenue goes to Independence Square. There are the French embassy, the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul, the municipal theater. In the middle of the square rise an obelisk-clock and a fountain.
Not far from the capital, there is a small resort town of La Marsa, built up with beautiful French-style houses with wrought iron bars and balconies. Architectural monuments are concentrated in the historical center: the Yessaada Palace and the Al-Ahmadi Mosque.
The seaside town receives millions of tourists every year. People are attracted by historical sights, a cobbled embankment, numerous cafes and restaurants of national cuisine.
Sidi Bou Said
A city in northern Tunisia is named after the famous religious figure Abu Said al-Baji. In the 13th century, a Muslim leader founded a sanctuary near the settlement, and after his death he was buried there. Today the city is not only a place of pilgrimage for believers, but also a popular tourist resort.
The palace in the Medina of Tunisia was built in the 16th century by order of the local ruler. Its facade is decorated with a spacious arched veranda and Andalusian columns. The floor is lined with multi-colored stone tiles, the walls are decorated with stucco and original ornaments.
A large garden is planted around the house. It has antique stone benches. The residence is considered a national monument, and the interior is occupied by an organization responsible for the preservation of the Tunisian Medina.
Fortress of Gazi Mustafa
In Djerba, there is the city of Houmt Souk with a magnificent promenade, which is decorated with a 9th-century fortress erected by the Arabs to protect against pirates. The citadel withstood long sieges, was damaged several times due to the onslaught of the enemy, but was always restored. Today, the fortress has been restored and is considered the main attraction of the city. Tourists are shown the courtyard, the mosque, the collection of cannons, the amphitheater and the garrison rooms.
Mausoleum of Khabib Bourguiba
Habib Bourguiba’s hometown is easy to find on a rocky peninsula in the central part of the country. Here is the mausoleum of the President, erected in the best traditions of Arabic architecture. The white building, crowned with a huge dome, is decorated with two minarets. The outer walls are finished with marble.
The area around is lined with stone figured tiles. Inside the building is the tomb of Habib Bourguiba and members of his family. Nearby is a small museum displaying personal belongings of the President.
Ribat of Monastir
One of the oldest Arab defensive structures in the country has been preserved in Monastir. Ribat, founded in 796, was regularly completed, strengthened and proved its impregnability more than once. The main fortress is surrounded by high walls, round multi-level towers stand at each corner. The gates are decorated with horseshoe arches and floral ornaments.
Inside the citadel is a spiral staircase leading to the roof. In ancient times, soldiers climbed it to watch the surroundings and give signals to neighboring ribats. The territory is equipped with two mosques and a small garden that saves from the heat.
Dar El Bey
The medina of Tunisia is decorated with a three-story white marble palace of the 17th century, built in the Moorish style. The decoration of the facade is dominated by twisted columns, arches, graceful windows, floral patterns. The rooms are painted by Tunisian and Moroccan artists. The ceilings are stucco and gilding. The floors are paved with marble tiles.
A large fountain was installed near the palace, flower beds and places for recreation were equipped. The government of the country sits in the interior.
Mosques and temples
Al Zaituna Mosque
In the heart of the Tunisian Medina stands a mosque dating back to 698. For its construction, bricks and columns from Roman Carthage were used. The inner rectangular courtyard is framed by arches. A square minaret 43 meters high rises from the northwest side. The center of the mosque is decorated with a twelve-meter dome.
Mosque of Uqba
One of the largest mosques in Tunisia, Uqba, is located in Kairouan. The grandiose construction began in 670 and continued for several centuries. The architectural complex of yellow sandstone covers an area of 9000 m². The vast courtyard is paved with marble. In the inner hall there are numerous columns and arches.
There are always pilgrims and tourists in Uqba. People come to pray and see an elegant high minaret, carved wooden gates, suras from the Koran inscribed on the walls.
Yousef Dey Mosque
The mosque, founded by Yusef Dey in 1631, is a prime example of Ottoman architecture. The ceiling in the prayer hall is supported by marble columns, the walls are decorated with carved ornaments. The semi-circular niche indicates the direction that Muslims should follow when praying. Next to it is a minbar covered with marble panels.
The mosque has an octagonal minaret ending in a balcony with a wooden roof. Here is also the mausoleum of Yusef Dey himself, as well as members of his family.
On the island of Djerba in the village of Riyadh there is a synagogue with a two thousand year history. The building, erected in the Moorish style, does not have catchy signboards and identification marks.
The interiors are decorated with blue tiles with colored ornaments. The prayer hall is decorated with stained glass, crystal chandeliers, thin columns, and arched spans. Cabinets filled with rare sacred books rise along the walls. The pearl among them is one of the oldest copies of the Torah on earth.
Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul
The construction of the Catholic Church of St. Vincent de Paul began in 1881 and lasted more than 10 years. The architectural ensemble in the Romano-Byzantine style is a real jewel of the capital. The central facade is decorated with relief patterns, gilded paintings, stone statues. On the sides rise two bell towers with oval domes and crosses.
The interior is dominated by frescoes with biblical scenes, bright stained-glass windows, and sculptures of saints. The oldest organ in North Africa has been installed in a place of honor.
National Museum of Bardo
A large museum has been opened in the suburbs of the capital, Le Bardo, covering the history of Tunisia from antiquity to the present day. The collection in an old mansion contains rare archaeological exhibits: household items of ancient people, weapons, stone figurines.
The exposition of the Roman period presents marble sculptures of emperors, gods, mythical animals, colorful mosaics, wall paintings. The Islamic section displays the Blue Qur’an of Kairouan, ceramics and paintings.
National Museum of Carthage
A historical museum was founded on Birsa Hill in 1875 by Cardinal Charles Martial Lavigery. The exhibition is the result of excavations carried out on the territory of Carthage. The exposition provides information about the Phoenician civilization and displays unique exhibits.
The collection includes ancient amulets, pottery, stone sarcophagi, death masks, limestone steles, and jewelry. Roman statues, multi-colored mosaics, large amphoras are kept in a special hall.
History Museum of Hammamet
In the Medina of Hammamet, an interesting museum has opened its doors, plunging into the past of North Africa. The private exhibition occupies three floors and consists of historical scenes that accurately reflect different aspects of people’s lives.
Visitors can see how they spun wool, molded pots, fished, and the inhabitants of Hammamet defended themselves from the enemy hundreds of years ago. After the tour, guests are invited to relax on the roof of the museum, admire the sea bay and city blocks.
Museum of Folk Traditions
Djerba has a wonderful ethnographic museum that tells about the customs of the islanders. The exposition can be viewed in a white mansion, reminiscent of an old Arab castle. In the spacious halls there are beautiful dishes, musical instruments, national clothes, carpets. A separate exhibition tells about wedding ceremonies and how to properly prepare for the celebration.
Magic Museum in Sousse
A huge shopping center was built in the Medina of Sousse. It houses a 3D museum for lovers of beautiful photos. The extensive gallery is divided into zones: natural attractions, architectural monuments, works of art, fantasy.
Near each picture, the places from which the picture will turn out to be as successful as possible are indicated. The guests of the magic museum are accompanied by a guide. It helps to download the shooting application, set up 3D and take cool photos.
The Sahara desert stretches through Tunisia, occupying 30% of all of Africa. The area is covered with the finest sand, forming dunes of various shapes and sizes. Rocky plateaus, solonchaks, rare oases are scattered among the dunes.
Travel companies offer 1–2 day excursions accompanied by experienced guides. On the program: camel rides, jeep rides, sightseeing. For those who wish, a five-minute hang-gliding flight with an instructor is provided.
The largest island in North Africa — Djerba — is located in the Gulf of Gabes. It attracts tourists with modern hotels, wide beaches and beautiful nature. Near the sea rises the lighthouse of Ras Tagermes, giving signals to yachts and ships entering the harbor.
A shallow lagoon stretches along the northeastern shore, which is chosen by pink flamingos. In winter and summer, hundreds of birds can be seen importantly walking on the water in search of food. The Djerba lagoon is surrounded by date palms and olive trees.
Ishkel National Park
In the north of the country there is a biosphere reserve included in the World Heritage List. The territory consists of Lake Ishkel, picturesque swamps, forests and high cliffs. The park is a wintering place for birds: flamingos, geese, swans, marble teals, sultans. Foxes, African cats, wild boars, water buffaloes live in lakeside forests.
There are hiking trails in the park for tourists. There is a small museum next to the observation deck that tells about the local ecosystem.
In the center of Tunisia lies the salt lake El Jerid. In summer it often dries up, but in winter during the rainy season it overflows up to 5–7 thousand km². Rare plants grow around the lake that can tolerate soil salinity and heat.
Nearby there are oases with fresh water, where date palms are grown. A bulk highway leads to the lake, along which small shops are equipped.
Between Hammamet and Sousse, a private zoo with an area of 36 hectares has been opened. Representatives of the fauna of the African continent live on the territory. Giraffes, camels, antelopes, ponies, and elephants graze in spacious pens. Tigers, lions, hyenas, mongooses and leopards frolic in the enclosures.
Dolphins and fur seals splash in the indoor pools. And on artificial reservoirs live storks, flamingos and swans. The zoo has cafes, playgrounds, and there are rooms for visitors to relax.
Djerba Explorer Park
In the east of the island of Djerba, an amusement park has been opened that can interest children and adults. The area is divided into 3 thematic zones. Tourists are offered to visit a crocodile farm, take part in feeding predators, explore a traditional African village, and visit the Museum of Folk Crafts and Traditions. In addition, the park has souvenir shops, restaurants of national cuisine, cafes and even hotels.
Oceanarium in Carthage
Near the ancient Carthage in 1924, an ocean museum was opened, introducing all guests to the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean. Aquariums with marine life are installed in 11 halls. Tourists can see jellyfish, corals, exotic fish, crabs, and then go to a cafe and gift shop selling shells, earrings, bracelets, pearl rings.