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The mysterious country of warm sun, desert heat and coolness of oases, date palms and spicy jasmine is magical Tunisia. For many vacationers, this is a country of the purest sandy beaches, a serene vacation in an atmosphere of warmth and peace, but there is certainly something to see in Tunisia and beyond the beach, going on a trip to interesting places – such as sacred temples, majestic Carthage, the Colosseum, the sultry Sahara and other memorable sights of Tunisia. The country is distinguished by a high level of service: hotels in Tunisia meet high international standards, as evidenced by numerous reviews, and guides in Tunisia organize educational excursions in Tunisia, full of vivid impressions.
What to see in Tunisia in the first place
An overview of the main attractions with a brief description will be your mini-assistant in planning your upcoming trip. After studying this rating, everyone will find what to see in Tunisia in 1 day and for any other period of time, where to go in Tunisia, depending on the possibilities and preferences.
1. The ancient city of Carthage
Ruins of the ancient city of Carthage
Today, Carthage is the most famous suburb of Tunisia, and once there, you will really have something to see in Tunisia: the ruins of the ancient city still stand on the shores of the Gulf of Tunis, impressing with their grandeur and rich history. Until now, unfortunately, historians have not been able to find enough information about the origin of Carthage, but large-scale excavations continue in the surrounding territories. So, in the process of excavations under the auspices of UNESCO, the ruins of several ancient cities that once existed on this beautiful seaside land have already been discovered.
2. Amphitheater in El Jem
The well-preserved Colosseum in El Jem
The amphitheater is often compared with the Roman Colosseum – the age of this grandiose structure is already 2 thousand years old, and although today its arena is already located much lower than the level of the modern streets of El Jem, its walls still rise above the modern buildings of the city and are visible from afar. Inside the amphitheater, you can make a raid through the numerous underground passages, or climb up to the visual rows and imagine what spectacles unfolded before the eyes of the public.
3. City of Sidi Bou Said< /h3>
The blue and white city of Sidi Bou Said against the backdrop of the Gulf of Carthage
Beautiful Sidi Bou Said is the most beautiful landmark of Tunisia, a town in white and blue tones, standing on a cliff at the foot of which the Mediterranean Sea spreads, the Atlas Mountains and ancient Carthage can be seen in the distance. The town is unusual in that all its buildings are painted white, and the windows, fences and bars are sky blue. According to the guides, once a noble French baron bought a house in this quiet picturesque place, it was he who suggested that the inhabitants paint their homes in white and blue colors so that they would less heat up under the rays of the bright African sun.
4. Bardo National Museum
Hall with exhibits in the Bardo National Museum Bernard Gagnon
The Tunisian Museum of Bardo is the main museum of antiquity, where for more than a hundred years unique valuable finds have been brought, mined during archaeological excavations throughout the country. The exposition of the museum is the richest collection of Roman mosaics and other artifacts reflecting the history of civilizations in Tunisia, numbering more than 3 thousand years. Now there are more than 3 hundred mosaics, an extensive collection of marble statues, ancient ceramics, tombstones of priests, terracotta statues and much more.
5. The ancient city of Dugga
The famous temple is the Capitol in the ancient Roman city of Dugga
Dougga is one of the first places to see in Tunisia among the ancient ruined cities. Once Dougga was a large prosperous city with a population of more than 25 thousand people, and today it is one of the best preserved archaeological sites in North Africa. Until now, many Roman temples, fountains, water tanks, as well as theaters, markets, an aqueduct, necropolises and mausoleums have preserved their original state, and even traces of chariots have been preserved in some places on the cobbled streets.
Official site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/
See the magnificent views of Tunisia in this beautiful video!
6. Ancient City of Kerkuan
The foundation of the necropolis on a rocky hill in Kerkuane
In the north-east of Tunisia, on the Cap-Bon peninsula, one of the most important attractions of Tunisia is located – the ruins of the ancient city of Kerkuan. Since 1952, excavations have not stopped in these places. The Punic city, founded between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. All that was left of it was safely preserved under a thick layer of sand and has come down to our days, giving our contemporaries the opportunity to see the ancient structures with their own eyes. The city itself was protected from external attacks by a double wall, and inside there was a well-organized drainage system with many water grooves.
7. The Sahara Desert in Tunisia
Endless sandy expanses of the desert Sahara in Tunisia
The Sahara is one of the most mysterious and at the same time the most attractive places in Tunisia. The vast territory of the Sahara is deserted, but there are peoples who inhabit these lands in places of oases. Vegetation and fauna in the desert is extremely sparse, but there is something else in the Sahara that beckons to these parts. This is a kind of beauty and charm endowed with sandy plains, dunes, salt lakes, rare oases and extraordinary local sunsets. Excursions in the Sahara, including camel rides or jeep rides, take place most often in the early morning.
8. Matmata Cave City
Troglodyte dwellings in the cave city of Matmata
For more than one and a half millennia, Berber tribes have lived in man-made chalk caves dug in the slopes of local mountains. These unusual 1-2-story dwellings are of great interest to visitors, but this way of life in the desert is not a whim, but the only way to protect yourself from the scorching heat of the African sun and from unprecedented temperature changes during the day. So, when the heat is 40-50 degrees inside the caves, a comfortable temperature of 20-23 degrees is maintained.
9. Gellala village
Djerba Ceramics Citizen59
On the Tunisian island of Djerba, there is another interesting attraction of Tunisia – the village of Gellala, also known as the village of potters. The name itself speaks for itself – this area has been famous for pottery, clay and ceramics since time immemorial. It is here that you can see how beautiful earthenware jugs, large dishes and small charming spice vessels are born. In total, there are about 450 pottery workshops in the village, which have their own secrets for making durable and high-quality ceramic dishes.
10. Medina of Tunis
Sea Gate – the main entrance to the medina of the city of Tunis Dennis Jarvis
In the general sense, the medina is a city surrounded by a protective fortress wall. The medina of Tunisia is different in that the wall was demolished here about 200 years ago as unnecessary, only the gate remained. Other distinctive features of the Tunisian medina are a rounded shape, and not a rectangular one, as in the classical view, as well as a mixture of styles – Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Persian, associated with the construction of different quarters at different times. Tourists are also interested in this area due to the abundance of traditional oriental bazaars.
11. Saint Vincent de Paul Cathedral
Sand-beige facade of the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
The Catholic church in the classical style was erected in honor of the famous priest Vincent de Paul, who was redeemed from Arab slavery. The majestic building, located on Independence Square in the city of Tunis, delights with its exterior decoration and rich interior. The dimensions of the temple are no less surprising – about 80 meters long and almost 30 meters high. A number of artists and sculptors worked on the design of the shrine. A special pride of the temple is the organ hall, which houses two powerful instruments, ordered at one time from the great organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll.
12. Habib Bourguiba Mausoleum
Tomb of the First President independent Tunisia
This is an important landmark of Tunisia in the city of Monastir, a very picturesque building that looks like a mosque, finished with white marble and stone carvings. Here lies the body of the Tunisian politician, the famous builder of independence Habib Bourguiba. Not only the exterior decoration, but also the interior of the mausoleum deserves attention: for example, the exposition of the museum located here contains some personal belongings of the president – a desk, a chair and clothes. And the sarcophagus containing the body of the deceased is installed in a special room on a pedestal.
13. El-Griba Synagogue
Courtyard, premises for pilgrims in the synagogue of El Ghriba
What to see in Tunisia on the island of Djerba? The Tunisian island is famous for its famous attraction – the El Ghriba synagogue in the settlement of Riyadh. There are a great many versions of the foundation of the shrine: according to one of them, the priests who escaped from Jerusalem from slavery took the stone from the Temple of Solomon and laid it in the foundation of the future synagogue. Another legend says that on the hill where the synagogue now stands, a beautiful girl used to live in a hut, and some unknown force did not allow the inhabitants to approach her. One night, her home caught fire, the girl died. The inhabitants realized that the girl was a saint, and built a synagogue in her honor. And these are far from all the legends about the origin of the synagogue, and it is already difficult to figure out where is the truth and where is fiction.
14. Ukba Mosque
The imposing walls of the Great Mosque of Kairouan < p>Sidi-Uqba of 670 is one of the few Muslim mosques, inside which supporters of other faiths are allowed. Today it is one of the largest shrines in Tunisia, created in a process of continuous construction over several centuries. In general, each leader who was in power brought something of his own to the construction of the mosque. Today, the large space of the mosque includes a large prayer hall, a huge courtyard paved with marble, and a large minaret. The decoration of the mosque and adjacent territories is distinguished by unique methods of decorative work, different from the traditional Byzantine technique.
Official website: http://www.patrimoinedetunisie.
15 Al-Zaytuna Mosque (Olive Mosque)
Square Minaret and Patio of Al-Zaytuna Mosque (Olive Mosque) Citizen59
The Olive Mosque, or al-Zaytuna, is the largest metropolitan mosque of antiquity. According to legend, in the place where this landmark of Tunisia is now located, an olive tree grew, under which the very first preacher of the future mosque fulfilled his prayer vow. It is believed that the construction started in 698, and since then the mosque has undergone several changes. The territory occupied by the mosque is about 5 thousand sq.m. A library was also founded in the building in 1450, which is located on the left side of the courtyard. In general, the courtyard is the only place in the mosque accessible to people of other religions.
Official website: http://www.patrimoinedetunisie
16. Ribat fortress in Sousse
One of the walls of the fortress-monastery Ribat in Sousse
In the medina of the city of Sousse, the Ribat fortress of 859 rises on a hill. It has the shape of a square with a side of 38 meters, and its powerful 4-meter-thick defensive walls rise to 12 meters. Ribat has a rather complicated history: initially there was a Byzantine fortress in its place, which was later razed to the ground. Later, in the 9th century, the 77-meter Khalef al-Fat tower was erected here, which, due to its height, began to serve as a lighthouse. Only in 1063 the fortress itself was erected, and its walls – even later, by 1205. Today you can visit the archaeological museum in the fortress, which exhibits a large collection of artifacts.
17. Ribat Fortress in Monastir (Ribat Khartem)
View of the medieval fortress Ribat Khartem Vajta
Monastir also has its own fortress – Ribat Khartem of 767, and it also did not immediately acquire its final form. Initially, it occupied an area of only about 33 square meters, but over time it grew and strengthened, and by the 19th century its area was already about 4200 square meters. Ribat has 3 levels, there are a lot of transitions and spiral staircases. At one time, Ribat was a religious center and a place of pilgrimage, and played a defensive role only a few times. Today, inside the fortress you can visit the Museum of Islamic Art.
18. Kelibia Fortress
Kelibia fortress on top of a rocky spur David Stanley
At the top of Cape Bon, about 100 kilometers from Tunisia, the fortress of Kelibia rushed skyward – the oldest fortress, founded in the 3rd century BC. The Carthaginians were the first to build a fortress. Today it is the largest surviving fortification in the country. At the base of the fortress are large stones laid by the Carthaginians, and the upper part is a masonry of natural stone. In the inner courtyard, you can see the remains of a small mosque and a Byzantine fortress, and at the northern end, a restored chapel.
19. Phrygia Zoo
Resting tigers in Phrygia Zoo
What to see in Tunisia among natural monuments? For example, the magnificent Phrygia Zoo, located on a large area of 36 hectares between the cities of Sousse and Hammamet. It was founded in 2000 and is designed in the national style – its inhabitants live in large open spaces, not enclosed in cages. But despite the fact that, in fact, animals live here in the wild, their freedom is only partial: visitors can watch predators only from specially designed decks, and communicate with herbivores at a distance of an outstretched palm.
20. Ishköl National Park
Landscape of Ishköl National Park
25 kilometers from Bizerte is a natural nesting place for waterfowl and migratory birds. Due to its location near the densely populated areas of Tunisia, this place needed special protection. This is how the Ishköl National Park was created. Back in the 13th century, hunting on local lakes was prohibited here. Today, the park has a large lake of 50 square kilometers, mountains and limestone hills, on which olive and pistachio trees grow. The hills are home to approximately 180 species of migratory and resident birds, including swans, ducks, flamingos and some rarer species.
This concludes the main list of the best attractions, but this is far from all that is worth visiting in Tunisia his guests.
Sights of Tunisia: what else to visit in Tunisia
The list of what to visit in Tunisia is endless – its attractions are more than enough for several trips. After the first vivid acquaintance with the country, the time comes for other, no less interesting sights of Tunisia – we will give recommendations for visiting them.
21. Atlas Mountains
Thickets of date palms in the Atlas Valley mountains
A huge ridge of the Atlas Mountains stretches along the coast of the African continent.
For many, a trip to the Atlas Mountains is a chance to enjoy their majestic landscapes, take photos, and see unique species of flora and fauna, some of which live only here. Once upon a time, the only species of bears on the continent, the Atlas bear, even lived in these mountains, but now it has died out. The name of the Atlas Mountains comes from Greece, on behalf of Atlas – one of the mighty titans. The legend tells that Atlas was sentenced to punishment – to hold the firmament on his shoulders. To do this, Perseus turned the titan into stone – this is how, according to legend, the Atlas Mountains were formed.
22. Djerba Island
Beach vacation on white sand by the sea
The hospitable island of Djerba has everything you need for a relaxing holiday on the Mediterranean coast: this is a great climate that allows you to enjoy the sun and swim most of the year, comfortable hotels, a lot of entertainment options, and unique sights. The island is surrounded by olive groves, and there are also many date farms. The population of Djerba is original – the Berbers lived here, as well as on the mainland, and the Arab conquerors failed to expel the local tribes. The Berbers of Djerba are today part of the Ibadite religious community.
23. Chott El Jerid Lake
Beautiful sunrise on the salt lake Chott el Jerid
In fact, this landmark of Tunisia is a salt marsh depression in the Sahara desert. The lake during the year either dries up, then fills up again, and in the classical sense it becomes a reservoir only in winter, during the rainy season. In summer, when the air temperature reaches 50 degrees, it dries up, leaving a thick crust of salt on the surface, which is covered with dry sand from above.
An amazing phenomenon in the vicinity of this lake is the “desert roses” formed from minerals in the soil surrounding salt marshes. These stone sculptures really resemble intricate flowers of various shades in shape.
24. Souq el-Juma
Sale of a variety of spices at the matthew Hunt market
In addition to a variety of historical attractions, Tunisia is known for its colorful markets. One of these is the Souk el-Juma market, the main focus of which is the trade in locally produced ceramics. Tunisian ceramics are sold here at the most affordable prices, so many guests of the country, once here, strive to buy some beautiful product as a keepsake for themselves or as a gift – a vase, dish, service. In addition to ceramics, here you can buy other local paraphernalia – Berber jewelry, incense, spice scarves and other useful things.
25. Remains of the scenery for “Star Wars”
Scenery from the filming of “Star Wars”
Sometime in 1976, it was Tunisia, with its unusual landscapes, that was chosen for filming episodes of the Star Wars movie. In total, there are more than 2 dozen places in the country where the famous saga was filmed. The most famous of these places is the town of Matmata, famous for the underground dwellings of the Berbers. In one of these houses, 4 episodes of the saga were filmed, where a lot of scenery was erected. In 1995, one of the fans of the famous film restored the abandoned scenery, and now everyone can see with their own eyes the legendary filming location as it was 40 years ago.
Tunisia, fragrant with the aromas of Mediterranean greenery and spicy oriental spices, combines thousands of years of African traditions and the culture of the new Europe. Seaside resorts, amazing natural and man-made attractions of Tunisia will surprise any fan of exotic holidays on the African mainland. Read also about the best sights of Algeria and be inspired for your further journey through the countries of Africa!