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Letters from Tunisia: Tozeur, Monastir, Chott el Djerid Lake, the best for the end…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of August will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this seventh and the last post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, travelogues and fashion stories were created that you could read during the months of July and August as well, and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the rest of summer season of posts on the Mr.M blog.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The seventh and also the last blog post from the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to the cities of Tozeur and Monastir, as well as the famous large Endorean salt lake in southern Tunisia – Chott el Djerid. As the title of the travelogue says, I saved the best for last! Tozer is a city in Tunisia on the border of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara desert, the largest of the five oases that make up the Djerid. Gradually built around its palm grove, it is the capital of the province of the same name. Located northwest of Chot el Djerid, near the border with Algeria.

A city with an important religious past, welcomes many scientists. Ibn Chabbat bequeathed him an irrigation system for palm groves, and the poet Abou el Kacem Chebbi composed his famous Ela Toghat Al Alaam there, in the midst of the French protectorate. The modern topography of Tozeur pays tribute to them, as well as the marabouts. The city experienced significant demographic growth, along with significant expansion, during the second half of the 20th century, with the sedentarization of the Bedouin. It moves from about 11,000 inhabitants to 37,365 inhabitants in a few decades, according to the 2014 census.

The architecture of its architectural heritage, especially that of its medina characterized by raised brick patterns, is unique in Tunisia, along with that of the neighboring city of Neft. Agriculture, especially the monoculture of dates of the Deglet Nour variety, represents its main resource, which represents a third of the production of dates in Tunisia. The brickyard is still in operation, for the needs of many construction sites. Since the 1990s, the municipality of Tozeur has been developing tourism, under the leadership of the then mayor, Abderrazak Cherait. This development is based, among other things, on the presence of an international airport and numerous hotels, on the promotion of heritage and filming locations, as well as on the organization of the Oasis International Festival.

“Tozeur” is the official transcription of the city’s name in Latin letters; another transcription of Tunisian Arabic was “Tuzer”. According to Vincent Batesti, the name of the city is pronounced “Tuzor”. Count Antoine-Auguste du Pati de Clam, officer, colonial administrator, archaeologist and member of the Paris Geographical Society, put forward four hypotheses about the origin of the name Tozeur: The first assumes that the name already existed in ancient Egypt in the form Tes-Hor, meaning “city of the sun “, which the Greeks later transformed into Apollonites; a colony from this city could bear the same name.

Another hypothesis indicates that it comes from the name of the pharaoh Tauserta – which means “powerful” in Egyptian – who ascended the throne after the death of her husband Seti II (pharaoh from the XIX dynasty and grandson of the famous pharaoh Ramses II). The city of Tozeur would represent the tribute that a Cushitic colony paid to this queen, who was the last representative of the dynasty. This hypothesis is confirmed by the architecture of Tozer, which is characterized by the use of earthen bricks dried in the sun and then baked. Ancient Egypt is known to have used such knowledge in its urban constructions.

A third hypothesis indicates that the word would be a Berber feminine form of the adjective “strong”, Taouser, which form would mean “strong”. In 205 BC, the Berber kingdom of Massinis extended to this city. Charles-Joseph Tiso also defends this etymology.

The last hypothesis assumes that the name Tozeur is one of the forms of the name Ucuur, which means “that of Asura” or “that which comes from Asura”, because the name of the city would be a tribute that the Assyrian would return the colony to its original homeland.

Tozeur is located along an elongated hill of several kilometers, which separates two salt lakes, Chott el-Jerid in the south and Chott el-Gharsa in the northwest. It is part of Jerida or Djerida, the most important of the five oases, on the borders of the Sahara desert. A small mountain range, Jebel Mora, is located east of the city. As such, Tozer is part of the Atlas fold, which stretches from Morocco to western Tunisia. The Tozeur region belongs to the southern Tunisian Atlas, which is characterized by chots composed of Upper Carboniferous sedimentary basins.

This region is known for its lush oases in the middle of the desert and is of geological and geomorphological interest. Sebkhas, characterized by fine moist saltwater sediments in winter, and cracked surfaces of mud with salt and gypsum crusts in summer, cover the bottom of the chota, where very sparse vegetation is found. The city, which covers 1,256 hectares, is surrounded by a palm grove that is connected to its urban center, an area of about 1,000 hectares, which covers about 400,000 trees. The main plant species that grows naturally in Tozeur is prosopis, a fodder and bee plant that reaches a height of five meters at the age of fifteen.

The region has an ancient settlement, especially during the prehistoric civilization of the Capsians and, like the whole of North Africa, it is based on a Berber origin, even if the local tradition does not claim it: it is really positioned on the Arab that makes the connection with the prophet Muhammad. The first scientific descriptions of Tozeur date from the end of the 19th century, and these writings are marked by an obsession with the search for Roman ruins. The history of Jerrid remains rather poorly known, Pati du Clam’s Chronological Fastes of Tozeur in 1890 being the main source available on Tozeur’s past.

In ancient times, Tozer quickly became an active center of the trans-Saharan caravan trade, frequented by the Carthaginians. In 148 BC, he is cited by Ptolemy, who calls him “Tisouros”. The Romans, in full conquest of the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, settled there in 33 BC, the city was then named “Thusuros” in the Peitinger table. Apart from that, only the testimonies of Pliny the Elder remain, lyrical but precious, describing the heavenly beauty of this place. The city became a post office on the Saharan Limes, on the Roman road leading from Gabes to Biskra, specializing in the trade of dates and slaves. From the Christian influence under St. Augustine, there are remains of the church taken over by the El Qasr Mosque, located in Bled el Hadar, and certain rites such as the Sidi Juba which consists of the baptism of boys before circumcision.

The arrival of Muslims in VII. century coincides with the peak of agriculture and trade. During the Middle Ages, the Tozeur region was called “the land of Castile”, as mentioned by the famous Arab geographer Al-Bakri, who also points out that Tozeur, surrounded by a large stone wall, is a metropolis. This name comes from a series of fortified villages called castella. Over time, Tozeur and its surroundings became a refuge for various dissidents (Christian Donatists, Shiites and Kharijites). The protesting spirit of the inhabitants, who had developed a strong identity, encouraged them to encourage the twelve-year rebellion led by Abu Yazid against the Fatimid regime (935-947). They also established principalities independent of the central government, which were eventually reconquered by the Hafsids.

By the 12th century, Tozer was a flourishing cultural center. The city welcomed many theologians which led to the development of an oral tradition that was among the richest in the Maghreb, as well as a poetic tradition that continued until the 20th century, especially through the great poet Abu el Katsem Shebi. We also owe to Ibn Chabbat — whose real name is Abou Abdallah Ibn Ali Ibn Al Chabbat Al Touzri, born in 1221 in Tozeur — the conception and realization of important avant-garde works on palm cultivation and the significant improvement of the water distribution system that still functions in several an oasis in southern Tunisia.

Its 12th-century plan is on display at the Dar Cherait Museum. This irrigation plan, through the seguia, ensures a free distribution of water measured by the gadous (hydraulic hourglass) whose name comes from the Latin cadus (water clock), which itself comes from the Greek kados. In the 13th century, the city was destroyed by the Hafsids and then rebuilt outside the oasis. The city experienced a great economic boom, until its peak in the 14th century.

In the 16th century, the el Hadef family arrived in Tozer from today’s Algeria and took control of the city. She created neighboring houchs (traditional residential houses). Since the place of passage of trade caravans remained the same, the place of exchange and negotiation was located in front of the district of Uled el Hadef, which gradually became the most important part of the city. Zebda, of Arab origin, arrived in the 17th century and created another urban group. Ouled Sidi Abid settled at the same time in the northwest of Ouled el Hadef district, with which they were allies.

In the period from 1984 to 1987, the National Tourist Service renovated certain streets in the medina. In the early 1990s, the Tunisian government and Abderrazak Cherait developed tourism, using a priority national development plan aimed at reducing congestion on Tunisia’s coasts. In 1990, Abderrazak Cherait created the first theme park complex in Tozeur, a museum and a luxury hotel, Dar Cherait. A dozen luxury hotels have been created to attract tourists, with turnkey stays, and its development has been noticeable since 1994.

Residents demanded, for example, that goats be banned from roaming freely in the streets. In the late 1990s, the Tunisian state promoted the notion of heritage in Tozeur. Various developments and a festival funded by Cherait make Tozeur a popular tourist destination.

Tourist activity disrupts habits, putting an end, among other things, to residents bathing in a large spring, because their privacy can be violated. According to information gathered by press correspondent Benoit Delmas, tourism has globally enriched Tozer residents during the year 2000.

According to the urban planning plan, the architectural heritage of the city of Tozer has become an economic issue. It is an important pillar for the tourism industry. Old descriptions of travelers passing through Tozer are contradictory, Deffontaine in 1754 speaking of “houses of mud”, while Gilles Daumas in 1845 described “one of the most beautiful towns in Jerrid with well-built houses”. Charles de Foucault drew these houses, which can be seen in his Maison ancien d’El Tozeur, kept in the National Library of France. Iconographic documents circulating at the beginning of the 20th century show that the apartments of Tozeura were large and well-maintained. The average size of apartments has evolved, the large residences of traditional patriarchal families have become smaller, in favor of the proliferation of multi-storey structures, since 1980.

The district of Ouled el-Hadef, which dates its oldest remains from the 14th century, is considered the most interesting and traditional of Tozer. Accessible from Avenue Farhat-Hached and Avenue Habib-Bourguiba, it forms the old town or medina of Tozeur, one of the best-preserved medinas in all of Tunisia. It starts on Kairouan Street, at the level of the Museum of Popular Art and Tradition, and ends on El-Walid Street, with the madrasah of Sidi Abdullah Bu Jemr. The inhabitants of this district are quite poor according to Daher, Ouled el-Hadef is now less a place of life than a place of landscape.

It is surrounded by a high wall of small rectangular bricks, quite bright, without windows, whose function is to preserve the privacy of the inhabitants. Its facades decorated with patterns in terracotta bricks are presented in documents from the beginning of the 20th century. This district is entirely built with traditional clay bricks, giving an architecture with a cachet valued for tourism: with the medina of Neft, this style is unique in Tunisia. The small arched streets of this district form a veritable labyrinth.

Medina Tozeur has a palm wood mashrabiya that is considered exceptional, as well as one of the oldest doors in Tunisia, also made of palm wood. The poorest residents have palm wood doors, which are cheaper, only the richest can afford “real” wooden doors. This door used to have a knocker for each type of person: men, women and children, that is, up to three knockers that emit a different sound, two if the family had no children: their role is to identify who is at home. A door for the appropriate family member to open. Green doors indicate the presence of religious places. The neighboring mosque is the Sidi Abdesalem Mosque. In Medina, there is a bey’s house, which served as a set for the filming of the film The English Patient.

The souk is located in the south of the city, it forms the city center of Tozeur, so it is the souk that most often corresponds to the name “Tozeur”. It revolves around the central square of Ibn-Chabbat, where the market and the post office are located. It is located near the historical districts of Tozeur, Ouled el-Hadef and Zebda; the architecture here is less traditional than in the medina further east. The city’s main mosque, the Farkous (or Ferkous) Mosque, although recent, has the tallest and most distinctive minaret in Tozeur. There is another mosque in the souk, which is located near the tourist office, the Sidi Mouldi mosque, whose minaret, similar in style to that of the Farkous mosque, was restored in 1944. The souk is dedicated to both walking and shopping, and the local expression “descending the souk” is synonymous with “strolling”. The souk was renovated in the early 2000s.

Chott el-Jerid is the largest salt plain or Tunisian sebkha with an area of about 5,000 km. Chott el Djerid is a large endoreic salt lake in southern Tunisia. The name can be translated from Arabic to English as “Lagoon of the Palm Land”. On May 28, 2008, the Tunisian government proposed the site for future classification on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The bottom of Chott el Djerida is between 10 and 25 meters below sea level. The width of the lake varies greatly; at its narrowest point, it is only 20 km in diameter, compared to its total length of 250 km. Sometimes its parts appear in various shades of white, green and purple. The narrow eastern entrance to Chott is also known as Chott el Fejej. It is the largest salt pan in the Sahara desert, with an area of over 7,000 km2, while some sources state 5,000 km2. The locality has a typical hot desert climate.

Due to the harsh climate with an average annual rainfall of less than 100 mm and daily temperatures that sometimes reach 50 °C or more during the summer with intense solar radiation, water evaporates from the lake. In summer, Chott el Djerid almost completely dries up, and numerous mirages appear. It is located between the towns of Tozer and Kebili. During the winter, small tributaries of water can be seen emptying into the lake.

Because the floodplain is highly variable, the values shown for the area of the lake (or its basin, which is almost always dry), can vary widely. Some sources give values up to 10,000 km². Similarly, the figures given for altitude vary between 10 meters above and 25 meters below sea level. Fresh water irrigation schemes are currently being implemented in the region to help eliminate salt from the soil and increase productive area.

The lake can be crossed on foot and even by car, but it is very dangerous because the salt crust is not always solid. In winter, when the lake is full, it can be crossed by boat. Piles of salt on its edges are collected for the processing of salt production. Relict populations of West African crocodiles persisted in Chott el Djeridu until the beginning of the 20th century. Pink flamingos are known to use the shores of the lake as nesting sites in the spring.

Chott el Djerid is the namesake of Djerid Lacuna, an endorheic hydrocarbon lake on Saturn’s moon Titan that contains liquid methane and ethane instead of water.

Monastir is a coastal city in the Tunisian Sahel, in central-eastern Tunisia, located on a peninsula southeast of the Gulf of Hammamet, twenty kilometers east of Sousse and south of the capital of Tunisia. In 2014, the population of the municipality reached almost 100,000 inhabitants. The city has been the capital of the province of the same name since 1974.

The name of the city comes from the word “monastery” (in Latin monasterium) even if it is still a matter of debate. According to Hasan Hosni Abdelwaheb, the name is of Arabic origin, only borrowed from the Greek term monastrion, meaning monastery and widespread in the Byzantine Empire to describe fortifications built on the Mediterranean coast. Before the Muslim conquest and immediately after the decline of the ancient Punic-Roman city of Ruspina, Monastir was a city built by a community of Christian monks, recognized by their abbey, which occupied a completely autonomous monastery. After the conquest, the Muslims kept the name.

The Ribat of Monastir was built by the Wali of Hartham Ibn Ayun on the orders of the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid in 796 as a means of defense against the attacks of the Byzantine fleet in the Mediterranean. It represents, along with the ribat from Sousse, one of the two most important fortresses on the coast of the Sahel. According to messages related to local history and dating from the beginning of the 10th century, it is a merit to stay in this ribat known as the Great Fortress. The three-day guard service at the monastery ribat is then considered a great religious action, because Muslims are obliged to protect their homeland.

This merit was reinforced during the Crusades. The fortress was perceived, both among fighters and ascetics, as a place of pilgrimage and meditation for religious holidays such as Achura or Ramadan. On the upper floor of the southeast wing was a small mosque with a mihrab. It is now used as a museum displaying items from the region and from Kairouan. Among the important monuments of the city is the Great Mosque in Monastir, a stone building of sober architecture built in the 9th century and then expanded during the 11th and 18th centuries. In the city of Monastir there is also a mausoleum which was ceremonially opened in 1963 by the then president Habib Bourguiba. The building, framed by two minarets 25 meters high, is surmounted by a golden dome, which is itself surrounded by two green domes. The entrance door and the gate that separates it from the rest of the cemetery are two examples of Tunisian art.

Monastir has a Museum of Islamic Art, opened on August 5, 1958 and located on the first floor of the south wing of the ribat; it includes nearly 300 works (fragments of wood, funerary stelae, brilliant ceramics) and is visited by almost 100,000 visitors every year. The Monastir summer festival is organized every year as part of the ribat and lasts from three to four weeks, offering many musical, theatrical and even cinematographic performances. A few kilometers from the city center, the cultural center of Monastir, founded in 2000, hosts various cultural events.

Within it, several cultural societies, which mainly deal with painting, music and theater, carry out their activities. This center replaces the old cultural center located in the very heart of the city; retains some essentially student activities. The Association of Monastic Writers is an association whose premises are located in the town of Čraka of the old town. It welcomes several members and organizes various cultural meetings.

My dear travelelrs, we have come to the end of this seventh special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in collaboration with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of Tozeur, Monastir, Chott el Djerid Lake that adorn the heart of this unusual country? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this unusual country!

From Love from Tunisia,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Letters from Tunisia: Carthage, the Center of Ancient Power…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of August will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this sixth post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, travelogues and fashion stories were created that you could read during the month of July, but you will have the opportunity to read them during August as well, and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the summer season of posts on the Mr.M blog.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The sixth blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to Carthage, the center of ancient power. Carthage is a city in Tunisia located northeast of the capital city of Tunis. The ancient Punic city was destroyed and then rebuilt by the Romans who made it the capital of the province of Proconsular Africa, today it is one of the most exclusive municipalities of Greater Tunisia, the official residence of the President of the Republic, which consists of many residences of ambassadors, wealthy Tunisians and expatriates.

The city still has many archaeological sites, mostly Roman with some Punic elements, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 27, 1979. The municipality of Carthage, which in 2014 had a little over 17,000 inhabitants, is today home to the presidential palace, the Malik ibn Anas mosque, the national museum of Carthage and the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts.

How did Carthage get its name? The name Carthage comes from the Phoenician Karth-Hadasht, meaning “New City”, which might suggest “New Tyr”. Under Roman rule, the city was named Carthage. Carthage was founded by Phoenician settlers from Tire in 814 BC. According to legend, Queen Dido or Elyssa, sister of King Tyre, Pygmalion, founded the city. It is said that the queen asked the neighboring ruler Hiarbas, a Berber king, for permission to establish a kingdom on her land. Then he offered him a piece of land as big as a cow hide. The cleverer queen had a cowhide cut into very thin strips and drew the boundaries of Carthage. In reference to this mythical founder, the Carthaginians are sometimes called “the children of Dido” in literature.

The city became the dominant power in the western Mediterranean in the 4th century BC. The Carthaginians practiced a polytheistic cult originating in the Middle East. They especially worshiped Baal and Tanith. Rome has long accused them of child sacrifice (ceremony of silence). One hypothesis, among others, suggests that the ritual of cremation was mainly intended to return the souls of deceased children by the shortest route to Ba’al Hamon, at a time when infant mortality was more than high despite advances in hygiene.

According to other sources, it seems that the sacrifice of living children, usually the eldest in a noble’s family, to prove the sincerity of their loyalty to Carthage, gave rise to the custom of the latter adopting a child slave for this purpose. The Carthaginians introduced the short iron sword into the Mediterranean Sea, because until then warriors fought with spears and slings. Carthage conquers Hispania as well as Sicily where it meets the Romans. The ancient city of Carthage is at the heart of the novel Salambo, written in 1862 by Gustave Flaubert, and the action takes place in the time of Hamilcar Barca, that is, in the youth of Hannibal Barca.

The Carthaginians were defeated by the general Scipio, called Africanus, in alliance with the Numidian king Massinis at the Battle of Zama. Indeed, a series of three conflicts between the two powers, better known as the Punic Wars – the Romans called the Carthaginians Poeni. The conflict begins in the 3rd century BC. BC and ends with the victory of Rome and the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. AD, after four years of siege. After an aborted attempt by Gracchi, Julius Caesar later founded a city on the ruins of the Punic city. This becomes the capital of the new African province. In the Lower Kingdom, the city, favored for Christianity, suffered imperial persecution. In the 4th century, Carthage became one of the greatest spiritual capitals of the West. It was conquered in 439 by the Vandals led by Genseric, who established a kingdom there.

At that time, the Church was a victim of persecution and suffered especially. The takeover by the Romans (Eastern Roman Empire) in 533 brought prosperity back to the African capital. Emperor Justinian I made it the seat of his African diocese, but after the Monothelite crisis, the emperors of Byzantium, opposed to the African Church, quickly turned away from Carthage, which became the seat of the Exarchate. Carthage then gives Constantinople a succession of emperors following Heraclius, the son of the Exarch of Carthage.

At the time of the Arab conquests, the latter took the city in 698, but they preferred Tunis, the neighboring city, which gave its name to the country, the African which henceforth denoted the whole continent. After this siege led by Hassan Ibn Numan, the city was sacked and the population moved to Tunisia. Materials from the destruction of Carthage would later be used to expand the infrastructure of the neighboring city.

In the Middle Ages, Saint Louis captures the city during the Eighth Crusade, during which he dies of dysentery; he then hoped to convert the Hafsid sultan to Christianity and oppose him to the ruler of Egypt in order to force him to withdraw from Jerusalem. The failure of this strategy marks the end of the Crusades. The cathedral was built in the 19th century on Birsa Hill, on the supposed site of his burial. Until the rediscovery of Carthage in the 19th century, the ruins were looted for marble to build public or religious buildings in Africa as in Europe. As a place of residence, there are only two hamlets left, inhabited by peasants and farmers, located in Douar Chott and La Malga.

It was in the 19th century that certain high dignitaries of the Beylik state chose Carthage for their summer vacation. The first to settle there was Mustafa Haznadar with a palace in Salambo, next to the sea near the Punic ports, then another one on the heights of Birsa, which became a school for managers. Then, the Mamluk general Ahmed Zarruk builds the Zarruk Palace, which became the official residence of Lamina Beg, then a nightclub after the abolition of the monarchy, to become the seat of the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts.

An influential favorite of Sadok Bey, the minister Mustapha Ben Ismail also built the palace, which became the police academy in Douar Chott after being owned by Hedi Bey and his descendants from 1882 until the confiscation of the palace. These Tunisian-style residences were gradually surrounded by smaller summer residences belonging to the Tunisian nobility and bourgeoisie.

It was only in 1906 that we note the appearance of the first villas in the European style, the most important of which are those of the Secretary General of the Tunisian government, a French colonial official and the real prime minister of the country. Habib Bourguiba will choose this villa to become the presidential palace of Carthage in 1960. We also note in Salambo, near the Punic ports, around 1930, the construction of the villa of General Lanjelo, the commander of the French army and the Bey’s minister, which became the Villa Terzi, as well as the villa of Caid Habib. Djelluli and Salem Snadli near Birsa Hill. Between 1928 and 1929, Le Corbusier produced his only Tunisian work in the Carthage-Presidence: Villa Bezo.

The municipality of Carthage was created by the Beylic decree on June 15, 1919. The development of its communal perimeter, as well as the growth of its population, led to the creation of the Carthage-Mohammed municipal district. In February 1985, Ugo Vetere and Chedley Klibi, mayors of Rome and Carthage, symbolically signed the Treaty of Carthage, a peace treaty that officially ended the last war between the two cities, the Third Punic War. Since then, Carthage has become a small residential city in Greater Tunis. It became a sought-after place of residence for high-ranking civil servants, diplomats and industrialists. The Malik ibn Anas Mosque was inaugurated on November 11, 2003, on Odeon Hill after the destruction of residential buildings from the colonial period.

The archaeological site of Carthage, scattered throughout the modern city, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. The archeological site is dominated by the hill of Birsa, which was the center of the Punic city, and is distinguished by the massive silhouette of the Saint-Louis Cathedral built on the supposed burial site of King Louis IX, who died there during the Eighth Crusade. For the record, King Louis-Philippe I, descended from Louis IX, sent an architect to Carthage to find the most precise location.

Given the impossibility of such a mission, he simply chooses the most beautiful place. Near the cathedral, opposite this empty tomb, the remains of which were returned to France, are the remains of the most important quarter of the city, of which only a few foundations and a few fragments of columns remain. Based on its historical heritage, Carthage has developed into a vast residential suburb of Tunis around the presidential palace. However, the rapid development of the modern city risks destroying the remains forever, leading Tunisian archaeologists alarmed public opinion and between 1972 and 1992 UNESCO launched a huge international campaign to save Carthage. This milestone was completed by the World Heritage classification. The difficulty for today’s visitor lies in the extreme dispersion of remains even if specific remains can be distinguished.

The Malik ibn Anas mosque was built on a place called “the hill of the cloak”, on a site of three hectares. The then President of the Republic of Tunisia, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, opened it on November 11, 2003. Built on a 2,500 m 2 esplanade, it has a 55-meter high minaret and a prayer room that can accommodate more than 1,000 worshipers 22 . St. Louis Cathedral in Carthage, located atop Beersa Hill, is a former Catholic cathedral that is no longer used for worship. The building is of Byzantine-Moorish style in the shape of a Latin cross and a facade framed by two square towers. On the walls are the coats of arms of the donors for the construction of the basilica. The windows are also decorated with arabesques. Built between 1884 and 1890, under the French protectorate, the cathedral became the Primate of Africa when the title of Primate of Africa was restored in favor of Cardinal Lavigerie.

The Carthage International Festival is a renowned cultural event held every summer in the Ancient Theater. The Carthage Cinematography Days, a biennial film festival launched in 1966 by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, has been held continuously since its inception, alternating with the Carthage Theatrical Days. On Birsa Hill is the National Museum of Carthage in the premises occupied by the White Fathers. It allows the visitor to understand the extent of the city’s buildings during the Punic and then Roman periods.

Some of the most beautiful pieces found in excavations since the 19th century are there, and others are presented in the Bardo National Museum near Tunis. In the immediate vicinity, the former Saint-Louis Cathedral is today used as a cultural space and is called the Acropolis. It regularly hosts exhibitions and concerts, especially the Jazz a Carthage festival created in 2005.

Among the other institutions located in Carthage is the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, which has been installed since 1983 in the old palace, the property of General Zarrouq, Minister of War Sadok Bey, acquired in 1922 by Habib Bey and bequeathed to Lamine Bey, the last representative of the Hussein dynasty. The National Institute of Marine Sciences and Technologies, founded in 1924, is a public research institution based in Salambo. It has a small museum: Salambo Oceanographic Museum. In terms of education, the city is home to some renowned institutions such as the Carthage Institute of Advanced Commercial Studies and the Higher Institute of Childhood Executives. The educational network also includes five schools and four high schools including Carthage Presidency High School built in 1952.

My dear travelelrs, we have come to the end of this sixth special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in collaboration with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of Carthage, the center of ancient power that adorn the heart of this unusual country? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this unusual country!

From Love from Carthage,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Letters from Tunisia: The Sahara, Oasis of Chebika and Nefta, the lost desert Jewels of North Africa

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of August will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this fifth post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, travelogues and fashion stories were created that you could read during the month of July, but you will have the opportunity to read them during August as well, and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the summer season of posts on the Mr.M blog.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The fifth blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to the lost desert gems of North Africa that we can find in Tunisia: Sahara, Chebika Oasis, Nefta. The Sahara is a desert on the African continent. This desert with its area of 9,200,000 square kilometers is the largest hot desert in the world and the third largest desert overall, smaller only than the deserts of Antarctica and the northern Arctic. The desert got its name “Sahara” through the derivation of the Arabic word for “desert” in the irregular feminine form, singular sahra’. The desert covers most of North Africa, excluding the fertile Mediterranean coastal region, the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb, and the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan.

It stretches from the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, where the landscape gradually changes from desert to coastal plain. It is bordered to the south by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna around the Niger River valley, and the Sudan region in sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara can be divided into several regions, including the Western Sahara, the central Ahagar Mountains, the Tibesti Mountains, the Air Mountains, the Tenere Desert, and the Libyan Desert. For several hundred thousand years, the Sahara has alternated between desert and savannah grasslands in a 20,000-year cycle caused by the precession of the Earth’s axis as it rotates around the Sun, which changes the location of the north African monsoon.

Chebika is a mountain oasis located in the south of Tunisia, in the delegation of Tamerza in the western part of Tozeur province. The name Chebika means “small net” in Tunisian Arabic because the water flowing in the waterfalls of the oasis forms flowing nets and webs. The oasis itself covers 25 hectares and forms, with Tamerza and Mides, the smallest of the three main mountain oases in the southwest of the country, located on the Tunisian-Algerian border. Čebika is located in a deep valley, excavated in Upper Cretaceous limestone during water from a natural spring of good quality for irrigation. This valley is occasionally penetrated by runoff from a large mountain basin that has been exposed and hollowed out by erosion.

This geography is suitable for the occurrence of sudden torrents of rainwater and their rapid concentration at the level of the source, upstream of the oasis. In 1969, after the deadly floods that killed more than 400 people in Tunisia, the current village of Chebika was built near the abandoned village. The urban part of the current village is summarized in a chessboard, the lines of which form streets that intersect at the level of the market.

Prehistoric remains are numerous in the region, but the site of Chebika gained special importance in Roman times when it became an important link on the border: the Saharan limes connecting Thebes with Gafsa, both borders overseeing the movement of tribes and the collection of taxes. A number of military milestones and a Roman fossatum (defensive ditch) are found around the oasis itself, as well as cisterns and works from the same period and various traces of ancient roads and cultures leading to the surrounding fortresses and towards Ain el Khanga and Seguia el Rouma (“Christian Cistern for irrigation”).

Chebika can without too much doubt be identified with the ancient outpost Ad Speculum (literal translation “place of the mirror” in Latin): the garrisons used the mirror to communicate with other positions and to signal possible enemy incursions. The site of Chebika formed an optical relay, which would have a metal mirror installed in a place called Kasr al chams (“Fort of the Sun”). The locality received the title of civitas within the Roman province of Africa, which it held from 30 BC to 640 AD.

The traditional agricultural system of Chebika consists of three floors, with palm trees (especially those producing dates of the deglet nour variety) which are characterized by high density (500-600 trees per hectare), a great diversity of tree and shrub species on the second level and food grain crops, horticulture and forage at a lower level. The system also integrates family farming of sheep and goats, producing the manure necessary to maintain soil fertility, as well as camel farming in the pastures between the palm grove and the desert.

The irrigation water of the oasis is the collective property of the farmers who capture the spring and distribute it free of charge according to agreed secular methods giving the right to a certain amount of water, previously determined by the clepsydra. The maintenance of canals and hydraulic structures for distribution mainly by gravity, previously the collective responsibility of farmers, was revised in 2000 to reduce water losses in the canals and is now managed by the Tozeur Regional Commissariat for Agricultural Development.

Revising the irrigation schedule to match the reality of the plot is a difficult but necessary subject to ensure the future of the oasis. In this context, the population of Chebika is socially and economically disadvantaged and benefits little from transient tourism that uses few products obtained from the oasis. The unemployment rate is high, especially among young people, which causes a rural exodus from the oasis or even emigration abroad. This emigration or the search for a paid activity outside of agriculture leads to the deterioration of the infrastructure of the oasis and to the strengthening of the absence or even the abandonment of certain plots. The grove of palm trees is getting old and too tall palm trees need to be restored. Knowledge in the field of agriculture and animal husbandry and craft knowledge in the development of products from the oasis and the steppe environment is also being lost.

I would like to share an interesting fact with you, namely that the village of Chebika served as a set for the famous movie The English Patient. Today the village is abandoned, but it is used for tourist purposes and as a film set. One of the famous legends is how Chebika became famous when, on his way back from Mecca, Marabut, sensing his imminent death, asked to be placed on his camel, to let the animal go where it wanted and to bury it where it would stop. A Marabut is a Muslim religious leader and teacher who historically served as a chaplain in Islamic armies, particularly in North Africa and the Sahara, West Africa and historically in the Maghreb.

The camel stopped at Chebika, and at the place where the water comes out of the spring in Ain el Naga. There is a traditional belief that women go to the grave of a marabout to ask for healing, to give birth to a boy, to help with childbirth, for a selfless husband to love his wife again, or to bring back a husband or son after a period of absence. In general, the legend attributes to the marabout the power to protect people and herds from the evil spirits that haunt the chote and that regularly rise towards Mount Chebika.

The Zarda Festival continues to be celebrated today in the form of the annual Sidi Soltane Festival. Once celebrated on Fridays in summer (now in autumn), it begins with animal sacrifices, followed by men’s prayers in the mosque and the sharing of meals outdoors. The population of Chebika, Tamerza, El Hamma du Yerid or neighboring tribes (Ouled Sidi Abid) participate in this demonstration. Some practices are less respected, but tend to become secularized, turning into socio-cultural activities of defending oasis cultures and generating income thanks to the participation of international and domestic tourism in Tunisia.

Nefta is an oasis town in Djerid located in southwestern Tunisia. The municipality is located in the southwest of Tunisia, between Tozer and Hazou, which is located on the Tunisian-Algerian border, and the latter is 33 kilometers from Nefta. The oil is located between Chot el Jerid and the Sahara dunes. The city is characterized by the presence of the “Nefta basket”, which is a natural depression dug into the rock.

According to some historical writings, the site was occupied since prehistoric times, as evidenced by several archaeological discoveries. The city later became a Numidian and then a Roman city. Nefta was the seat of the diocese under the Byzantines, and today it is the titular diocese of the Catholic Church in Tunisia since 1933. After the Muslim conquest, it became a high place of Sufism: the Qadiriya Sufi brotherhood is known throughout the Maghreb. The influence of this religious current has remained present to this day. The city is also home to a hundred marabouts including the famous Sidi Bou Ali who took over the city from the Ibadi Muslims and converted it to Sunni Islam in the 13th century. He founded an influential religious brotherhood, whereby a pilgrimage is organized around the shrine of this saint every year.

Nefta is home to Mos Espa, an abandoned film location for a remote spaceport in a galaxy far, far away hidden in the Tunisian desert near Nefta. This set is located between two salt lakes, the larger Chott El Djerid and the smaller Chott El Ghars, Mos Espa is an abandoned film set created as a remote spaceport location in a galaxy far, far away. Surreal surroundings and dramatic otherworldly structures make Mos Espa a must-visit if you’re a big fan of the Hollywood blockbuster “Star Wars.” However, you can even visit this set if you are not a fan of movies because you will enjoy the amazing scenery.

As one of the largest spaceports in Star Wars, Mos Epsa is depicted in the films as a city bustling with the daily lives of various aliens from across the galaxy. Home to the hero Anakin Skywalker from Episodes I, II and III, we’re told the location is on a distant planet known as Tatooine – named after the very real nearby Tunisian city of Tataouine.

This is where Anakin Skywalker and his mother live as slaves, and the foundations are laid for all the huge stories of the older Star Wars movies. Although some parts of the city of Mos Espa were added in post-production using modern technology during the filming of science fiction films of the era, here on the edge of the Sahara, all the main buildings from the films have been preserved. Dozens of structures line the city’s main streets, including many “moisture vaporizers”—in Star Wars, these devices were used to collect atmospheric moisture and produce water that is very expensive.

Currently, Mos Espa is slowly swallowing the sand that comes with every passing dust storm. Over the years, the harsh climate of the Sahara, the shifting sand dunes and the stream of tourists began to take their toll. Unlike other more traditional Star Wars filming locations, the city of Mos Espa was built in the middle of nowhere. Although nothing here is designed to last, thanks to the work of local and foreign enthusiasts, you can still walk the streets Qui-Gon Jinn walked to meet Anakin.

I have one very important piece of advice for all visitors to this site. Since the Mos Espa set is remote in the middle of the desert, it is important to bring a significant amount of water, especially during the summer period. The easiest way to Mos Espa is via the newly reconstructed road—leaving the town of Naftah to the north, take the road that goes slightly left and go north until you reach the end. There is another way, which is much more fun, but requires an expert guide and a reliable 4-wheel drive jeep safari vehicle. Professional drivers drive you in a straight line wherever you are, across the desert sand and the dry bed of the salt lake, so you can enjoy a sand safari.

During this press visit to Tunisia, I met the team of the national Slovenian television, who were reporting on Tunisia. In these pictures, you have the opportunity to see presenter Mojca Mavec, who recorded an incredible reportage for the new season of her show “Čez Planke“. Dear Mojca made homemade desert bread with a local and enjoyed desert coffee.

My dear travelelrs, we have come to the end of this fifth special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in collaboration with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of The Sahara, Oasis of Chebika and Nefta, the lost desert Jewels of North Africa that adorn the heart of this unusual country? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this unusual country!

From Love from Tunisia,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

SHARE THIS POST

Letters from Tunisia: Kairouan, the holiest Muslim City on the African Continent…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of August will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this fourth post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the warm invitation and hospitality. With their help, travelogues and fashion stories were created that you could read during the month of July, but you will have the opportunity to read them during August as well, and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the summer season of posts on the Mr.M blog.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The fourth blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to the holiest Muslim city on the African continent – Kairouan. It is known that Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are the holy triumvirate of holy cities that Islam has. After them, according to some sources, the fourth holy city of Islam is Kairouan in Tunisia. This city is considered the first Muslim city of the Maghreb and also the holiest Muslim city on the African continent.

Kairouan is a city in central Tunisia and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located 150 kilometers southwest of the capital of Tunis and fifty kilometers west of Sousse. Inhabited by approximately 140,000 inhabitants, it is often referred to as the fourth holiest (or holy) city of Islam and the first holy city of the Maghreb. The first Arab city in North Africa, a city that was an important Islamic center in Muslim North Africa, Ifrikiia until the 11th century.

With its medina and markets organized by oriental-style corporations, its mosques and other religious buildings, Kairouan has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Later, in 2009, it was declared the capital of Islamic culture by the Organization of the Islamic World for Education, Science and Culture. The town is also famous for its handmade woolen carpets and pastries including makroud.

Makroud is a cake consisting of a series of layers of dough filled with couscous semolina and date palm paste, there are also variants in which walnuts, almonds or pecans are used instead of date palm.

The Great Mosque of Kairouan, also called the Mosque of Oqba Ibn Nafi was founded in memory of Oqba Ibn Nafi is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia. Historically the first Muslim metropolis in the Maghreb, Kairouan, whose political and intellectual heyday was in the 9th century, is reputed to be the spiritual and religious center of Tunisia, also sometimes considered the fourth holiest city in Sunni Islam. Representing the emblematic edifice of the city, the Great Mosque remains the oldest and most prestigious shrine in the Muslim West. Figurant, from the Beylic Decree of March 13, 1912, in the list of historical and archaeological monuments classified and protected in Tunisia was also classified, with the historical ensemble of Kairouan, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Originally built by Oqba Ibn Nafi in the year 670 (corresponding to the year 50 of the Hegira) when the city of Kairouan was founded, it was expanded and rebuilt in the 8th and 9th centuries. This mosque is considered in the Maghreb, the progenitor of all mosques in the region, as well as one of the most important Islamic monuments and a universal masterpiece of architecture. From an aesthetic point of view, the Great Mosque of Kairouan appears to be the most beautiful building of Muslim civilization in the Maghreb. The age and quality of the architecture make it a jewel of Islamic art. There are many works and handbooks of Muslim art related to the history of the mosque. In addition to its artistic and architectural importance, according to the Tunisian scientist and Islamologist Mohamed Talbi, “it played a key role in the Islamization of the entire Muslim West, including Spain, and the spread of Malikism.”

During the reign of the Aghlabid dynasty in the 9th century, with the help of major works on reconstruction and beautification, the Great Mosque got its present appearance. Remarkable in its overall unity, as well as in its enormous dimensions, the fame and prestige of this place of prayer derives from its contribution to the acquisition and transmission of knowledge, especially between the 9th and 11th centuries. century. The university, composed of scholars and jurists who teach their teachings in the mosque, is a training center for both the teaching of Muslim thought and the secular sciences. With the decline of Kairouan, which began in the second half of the 11th century, the center for intellectual training then moved to the University of Zitouna in Tunis.

I will tell you something more about the origin and history of this mosque. When Kairouan was founded in 670, the general and Arab conqueror Oqba Ibn Nafi (the founder of the city himself) chose the location of his mosque in the center of the city near the seat of the governor. This initial place of worship was built between 670 and 675. Shortly after its construction, the mosque seems to have survived, between 683 and 686, during the short-lived occupation of Kairouan by the Berbers led by Koceila. Later, the mosque was rebuilt by the Ghassanid general Hasan Ibn Numan.

With the gradual increase in the population of Kairouan and faced with the consequent increase in the number of believers, the mosque was no longer sufficient to accommodate them, Hisham, the Umayyad caliph of Damascus, carried out numerous reconstructions through his governor Bichr Ibn Safwan. The process includes the renovation and expansion of the mosque in the period between 724-728. years. In order to expand it, he first goes to buy the neighboring land belonging to Banu Fihr, the Quraysh clan whose most prominent representative is Oqba Ibn Nafi.

He then allowed the mosque to be demolished and then rebuilt, all but the mihrab. Construction of the minaret began under his auspices. After that, in 774, a new reconstruction followed by changes and beautification was carried out under the administration of the Abbasid governor Yazid Ibn Hatim. Under the rule of the Aglabid rulers, Kairouan was at its peak and the mosque took advantage of this period of peace and prosperity. Not long after that, in 836, Ziadet Allah I rebuilt the mosque again and for the last time, it was at that time that this religious building got, at least in its entirety, the look we know today.

Thus, the current state of the mosque dates back to the 9th century, during the reign of the Aghlabids, with the exception of some partial restorations and some later additions that were made at the end of the 11th century and after. During the 20th century, several actions of conservation and restoration were carried out, first between 1910 and 1920 by the Service of Antiquities et des Arts de la Regence, and then during the first half of the 1960s, especially in 1964-1965. department of historical monuments of the National Institute of Archeology and Art. Not long after that, in 1967, major restoration works were started on the entire monument, which lasted five years.

The latter, led by the Department of Historical Monuments of the National Institute of Archeology and Art in collaboration with the Italian architects Riccardo Gizdulich and Paolo Donati, ended with the official reopening of the mosque, in the presence of Habib Bourguiba, the first president of the Republic of Tunisia, and his Algerian counterpart, Houari Boumediene, during the celebration of Mouled 1972 . years. In the middle of the 1980s, the building underwent additional restoration work, which mainly related to the exterior walls and their buttresses, the ceilings of the prayer hall, as well as the minaret.

Kairouan was founded on the line of confrontation between the Byzantines and the Muslims with the aim of becoming a foothold in their campaign to conquer North Africa. The location chosen for its establishment, inland, seemed particularly inhospitable, but it was far enough from the coast to avoid the attacks of the Byzantine fleet that then controlled the Mediterranean Sea. It also overlooks the mountains that are the refuge of the Berbers. Kairavan or the name for the garrison camp, gave its name to the locality and later to the city. Kairouan then had a dual military and religious function, ensuring holy war and defense of the newly conquered lands. The city is thus the first Arab city in North Africa.

After fighting between the Berbers and the Arabs during the Arab conquest, Okba Ibn Nafi was killed by the Berber chief Koceila, who occupied the city of Kairouan from 682 to 684. He renamed the city by inserting his name into Takirvant. A few years later, an Arab army led by Zuhayr ibn Qays defeated the Koceila army at Mames and captured Kairouan between 687 and 689. Okba Ibn Nafi builds the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Kairouan. Legend has it that at the site of the future Kairuan, a soldier from Okba would come across a golden cup buried in the sand. This cup would have been recognized as missing from Mecca a few years earlier, and when it was unearthed, a spring of water would have erupted, providing water that would have come from the same source as the holy Zamzam in Mecca.

This story made Kairouan a place of pilgrimage and then a holy city. Around 775, Abu Qura besieged Kairouan and spread Sufrit Kharidism there for a while. Having become the capital of the Aghlabids, the city prospered rapidly during the 9th century to become the main seat of power in Ifriqia and a great center of influence for Arab culture and Islam, rivaling other centers of the Mediterranean basin. It is a major city of trade and science known for its Malikite school of law and medical school formed by Ishaq Ibn Imran.

Kairouan also plays a significant role in the Arabization of the Berber and Latin-speaking population of Ifrikia. In 909 the Fatimids, the Ismaili Shiites, led by Abu Abd Allah ah-Chi’i, captured Ifriqiyya and made Kairouan their residence. But the city lost its status with the establishment of the Mahdiyya on the east coast and its declaration as the capital of the Fatimid Caliphate.

But ethno-religious tensions with the city’s strictly Sunni population forced the Fatimids to abandon the stronghold they had built to join Egypt around 972-973. year, where he will establish Cairo, the new center of the caliphate. Meanwhile, Kairouan is captured by Ibadi Abu Yazid who, with the help of the city’s Sunni population, manages to briefly break the Fatimid hegemony between 944 and 946.

In the middle of the 10th century, Kairouan had more than 100,000 inhabitants. The city’s water supply is provided by a network of pipes coming from the surrounding mountains and a large number of cisterns distributed in the city and under the mosque. Large reservoirs dating from the Aglabid era are still visible today. After the final retreat of the Fatimids, it was a vassal dynasty of the latter, the Zirids, that took power in Ifrikiya. Al-Mu’iz ben Badis, its most famous representative, led a policy in favor of the Sunni population. The city then experienced the last period of development in its history. Indeed, in 1054 the Fatimids of Cairo organized a punitive expedition against the Zirids who had become dissidents: the Bedouin tribes of Hilal and Banu Sulayma attacked the city, destroying it almost completely.

Later, in 1057, Al-Mu’iz ben Badis fled to Mahdi and surrendered Kairouan and its surroundings to plunder. With the rise of coastal cities under Hafsid rule, and mainly Tunisia, Kairouan inevitably declined. In 1702, Husein I er Bey rebuilt the fence and many mosques 26 . During the French offensive to take control of the country, troops under the command of General Etienne occupied Kairouan on October 26, 188127. The occupation of the city paralyzed the resistance and accelerated the subjugation of Tunisia. During the French protectorate, the city nevertheless became one of the centers of nationalist resistance.

Since December 9, 1988, Medina of Kairouan has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List by fulfilling five out of six evaluation criteria. It should be noted that in order to be classified as a World Heritage site, a site needs to meet only one of the six criteria, and among the sites classified around the world, few, like Kairouan, meet all five criteria. On the one hand, the Great Mosque is one of the main monuments of Islam and a masterpiece of universal architecture. It served as a model for several mosques in North Africa, especially in terms of decorative motifs.

On the other hand, the Three Gate Mosque, built in 866, is the oldest of the carved facade mosques in Islam. Kairouan also offers a remarkable testimony of the civilization of the first centuries of the Hegir in Ifriqia and its traditional Islamic architecture, linked to its spatial configuration, has become vulnerable under the influence of economic changes and represents a precious heritage. Finally, Kairouan is one of the holy cities and spiritual capitals of Islam.

In the heart of the old part of Kairouan there are several mosques, sometimes without minarets, which at that time were used as places of prayer for the inhabitants of the district. The oldest is probably the Ansar mosque, which, according to local chronicles, was founded by the Prophet’s companion Ruwaifi ibn Thabit al-Ansari. This is more a matter of legend because the foundation of this small courtyard mosque, with its open prayer hall and archaic mihrab, could not be determined by previous archaeological excavations. In addition, the site was renovated in 1650. Al-Dabbagh, a local historian, mentions in some writings that the mosque was very popular among Muslims seeking blessings: clay handprints on the white outer wall testify to this very common practice of worship in popular Islam, including until today. There are other mosques in the medina that originate from the Beylik period, such as the Al Malek Mosque (18th century) or the Al Bey Mosque, whose construction dates back to the end of the 17th century.

Under the northwestern wall of the city, behind the imposing minaret of the Great Mosque, lies the cemetery of the little-known Tunisian tribe Avlad Farhan, whose specialty is the special arrangement of their graves, unusual for a Muslim cemetery. Some, rows in pairs and surrounded by a low wall, are the last resting place of the patron saints of the tribe. At the end of the tombstone, the name of Allah is added in clay.

Members of the tribe now live throughout Tunisia, but continue to bury their dead in this cemetery set up beneath the city walls. On the anniversary of their death, as well as on certain holidays, candles are lit in a small niche placed in the tombstones.

In their 1882 report detailing their scientific mission to Tunisia, published in the Bulletin of African Correspondence, the French Orientalists Octave Hudas and René Basse called upon a collection of manuscripts they could see in the Great Mosque of Kairouan, in a closed room. near the mihrab. In 1897, the ministerial official of Tunisia, Muhammad Bek Bajram, presented to the Geographical Society of Egypt a report on his mission to Kairouan where he presented the details of this collection of manuscripts, which, according to his information, would be stored in an arranged maksura by Al-Muizz ben Badis in the mosque.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia has provided premises for the conservation of manuscripts, photographic laboratories and restoration of documents in the former summer residence of President Habib Bourguiba located in Raqada, twelve kilometers from Kairouan. There is also the Center for the Study of Islamic Civilization and Art, to which a small National Museum of Islamic Art has been added, which exhibits works from the Aghlabid and Zirid times.

The vast majority of the manuscripts relate to Islamic law and represent the world’s oldest documentary collection of 9th-century Malikite legal literature. Some were written during the founding period of Malikism, between the writing of Al-Muwatta by Malik ibn Anas and Al Mudawwana by Imam Sahnoun in 854. Biographical and bibliographical studies of the orientalist Miklos Muranii published in 1997 represent the current state of research on the scientific world of Kairouan. Also, the library has one of the richest collections of ancient Qur’anic codices, including fragments of the Blue Qur’an, written in an archaic script without diacritical marks, dating from the late 9th and early 10th centuries.

From the inventory of 1293-1294, there were several copies of the Blue Koran, some parts of which are now in private collections. Although the origin of these codices still remains unclear, it is now accepted that the blue parchment sheets and their golden illumination were made in Kairouan. A Hebrew document, the Genizah of Cairo, which dates from the tenth century and is therefore contemporary with the creation of the Blue Qur’an, mentions the export of Egyptian indigo to Tunisia. This product was the raw material used to dye leather when making parchment. However, we know nothing about the commissioner behind this business.

In the first centuries of the Islamic era, the Aghlabite Emirate of Kairouan partially paid the tribute of sovereignty to the Caliph of Baghdad with carpets. The production of the “Kairouan carpet” really begins in the 19th century, and the city remains the main production center of the country. At the beginning of the 20th century, the quality of carpets deteriorated due to the abuse of artificial dyes, which led a Kairouan family to produce allouch, a new type of hand-knotted carpet that took on the colors of sheep’s wool. of which the hexagonal field occupies the center with a diamond-shaped pattern. Little by little, alucha evolves towards complexity and polychromy, texture increases and Persian influences are felt with the appearance of zarbia recognizable by its brown-red color.

A Kairouan rug is a knotted non-woven rug made of wool or cotton – especially for the weft and warp – and less commonly of linen. It can be painted in natural shades from white to brown to beige gray when it is of the alucha type. The wool is always thick, because it is sheep, but dromedary or goat hair can be used. The patterns are geometric, but they can also be stylized flowers, giving the whole a symmetrical look with a predominance of the diamond shape.

My dear travellers and adventurers, we have come to the end of this fourth special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of Kairouan, the holiest Muslim city on the African continent that adorns the heart of this unusual country? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this unusual country!

From Love from Kairouan,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Letters from Tunisia: Tunis and Sidi Bou Said, places you must visit…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of July will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this third post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, the travelogues and fashion stories that you will have the opportunity to read this July were created and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy them.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting moments and information, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The third blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to the capital of this unusual North African country – Tunis, as well as an extraordinary town that reminds many of Santorini in Greece – Sidi Bou Said. Tunis is the most populated city and also the capital of the Republic of Tunisia. It is also the capital of the province of the same name since its creation in 1956. Located in the north of the country, at the bottom of the Gulf of Tunis, from which it is separated by Lake Tunis, the city stretches over the coastal plain and the surrounding hills. Its historical heart is the medina, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A modest town placed in the shadow of Carthage, Kairouan, then Mahdia, was finally designated as the capital on September 20, 1159, under the impulse of the Almohads, and then confirmed in its status under the Hafsid Dynasty in 1228 and the country’s independence on March 20, 1956.

Tunis is the economic and commercial capital of the Republic of Tunisia. The density of the network of roads and highways and the structure of the airport make it the central point of national transport. This situation is the result of a long evolution, especially of centralized conceptions that give a significant role to capital and tend to concentrate institutions there to the extreme. In 2014, the population of the municipality of Tunis was approximately 650,000 inhabitants according to the census of the National Institute of Statistics. However, during the 20th century, the agglomeration developed to a great extent outside the municipality’s borders, spreading over four governorates, Tunis, Ariana, Ben Arous and La Manouba. Greater Tunis had 2,643,695 inhabitants in 2014, or about 14% of the country’s population. In 2017, Tunisia was ranked as the fifth Arab city in which to live well

The city of Tunis is built on a series of hills, which culminates at forty meters above sea level and slopes gently towards Lake Tunis, but presents a steep slope in the opposite direction. These hills, which follow the slopes of the Ariane and correspond to the places called Notre-Dame de Tunis, Ras Tabia, La Rabta, La Kasbah, Montfleuri and La Manoubia, have altitudes that barely exceed 50 meters.

The city was born, a long time ago, at the intersection of the roads that naturally form through a narrow strip of land stretched between the vast basins of Lake Tunis and Sejmouia. The isthmus that separates them forms what geologists call the “Tunisia dome”, which includes hills of limestone rocks and sediments of wind and lake origin. It is a kind of natural bridge through which, since antiquity, passed several important roads that connected Berberia with Egypt and whose Tunisian part passes through Utica and Hadrumetum.

The second road is that of Bejaw, which goes along Medjerda and joins the road to Utica in Tunisia. The third is the Sica road that connects Numidia with Hadrumet. These routes obviously depend on Carthage once it asserts its political and economic primacy in Africa. On these road routes, the traffic flows favored the birth of relays and stages, among which is Tunisia. In an area of 300,000 hectares, 30,000 are urbanized, and the rest is divided between water areas (20,000 hectares of lagoons or sebkha, the most important of which are Lake Tunis, sebkha Ariana and sebkha Sejoumi) and agricultural or natural areas (250,000 hectares). However, urban growth, which is estimated at 500 hectares per year, is to the detriment of this space. It is all the more expensive because it consumes the most interesting lowland land for cultivation.

The metropolis of Tunis, whose area increased significantly during the second half of the 20th century, is now spread over several governorates: the Tunis governorate is home to a minority of the population of the agglomeration, while the suburbs spread across the governorates of Ben Arous, Ariana and La Manouba. The municipality of Tunis is divided into fifteen municipal districts: Bab El Bhar, Bab Souika, Cite El Khadra, Djebel Jelloud, El Kabaria, El Menzah, El Omrane, Gornji El Omrane, El Ouardia, Ettahrir, Ezzouh, Ezzouh Sejoumi and Sidi El Bechir.

The existence of the site is attested from the beginning of the 4th century BC. Situated on its hill, Tunis is an excellent observatory from where Libyans can easily follow the outward manifestations of Carthaginian life such as the comings and goings of ships or caravans inland. Tunis is one of the first Libyan cities to come under Carthaginian domination, given its proximity to a large city and its strategic position.

More than once, in the following centuries, Tunis is mentioned in the military history of Carthage. Thus, during the expedition of Agathocles from Syracuse, who landed in Cap Bon in 310 BC, Tunisia changed hands several times. Moreover, its role during the Mercenary War suggests that it was then “one of the chief centers of the aboriginal race”. In all likelihood, the bulk of its population then consisted of peasants, fishermen and artisans. However, compared to Punic Carthage, the ancient tunes remain very modest in size.

Destroyed according to Strabo by the Romans during the Third Punic War, it would have been rebuilt before Carthage. However, it is only the subject of rare testimonies, including that of the Peitinger chart, which mentions Tuni. In the route system of the Province of Africa, Tunes is only the name of a mutation (post office). The Latinized city is gradually Christianized and becomes the seat of the bishopric. However, Tunes will likely remain a modest city as long as Carthage exists.

The region was conquered by Arab troops led by the Ghassanid general Hasan Ibn Numan in the 7th century. Indeed, the city has a privileged position at the bottom of the bay and at the crossroads of trade flows with Europe and its hinterland. Tunis very early on plays a military role for which the Arabs chose it because from now on it is the only important city near the Strait of Sicily. From the first years of the 8th century, the capital of Okrug, which was then Tunis, experienced a strengthening of its military role: it became the naval base of the Arabs in the western Mediterranean, and assumed significant military importance. Under Aghlabid rule, Tunisians rebelled on many occasions, but Tunis took advantage of the economic boom and quickly became the kingdom’s second city. It became the country’s capital at the end of Ibrahim II’s reign, remaining so until 909, when the Shiite Berbers captured Ifriqia and founded the Fatimid dynasty, then again became the capital of the district.

Its role in opposition to the existing government intensified from September 945, when the Kharijite insurgents captured Tunis and gave it over to plunder. With the arrival of the Zirid dynasty, Tunisia gained importance, but the Sunni population increasingly supported Shiite rule and carried out massacres against this community. Therefore, in 1048, Zirid Al-Muizz ben Badis rejected Fatimid obedience and restored the Sunni rite throughout Ifriqia. This decision angered the Shia caliph Al-Mustansir Bilah. To punish the Zirids, he unleashed Arab tribes on Ifrikiya, including the Hilals. Much of Ifriqia was burned and bloodshed, the Zirid capital Kairouan was destroyed in 1057, and only a few coastal cities, including Tunis and Mahdia, escaped destruction. Nevertheless, exposed to the atrocities of the hostile tribes encamped around the city, the Tunisian population, no longer recognizing the authority of the Zirids who had retreated to the Mahdi, swore allegiance to the Hamadid prince El Nasser ibn Alenas, based in Bougie. Later, in 1059, the Governor appointed by the latter, after establishing order in the country, lost no time in getting rid of the Hamadids and founded the Khurasanid dynasty with Tunis as its capital. The small independent kingdom then reconnects with foreign trade and restores peace and prosperity.

After that in 1159, the Almohad Abd al-Mu’min captured Tunis, deposed the last Khurasanid ruler and installed in his place a government responsible for the administration of all of Ifriqia, which sat in a kasbah built for the occasion. The conquest of the Almohads opens a new period in the history of Tunisia. The city, which until then played a secondary role behind Kairouan and Mahdia, was promoted to the rank of provincial capital. In 1228, governor Abu Zakariyya Yahya took power, and a year later he freed himself from Almohad rule, took the title of emir and founded the Hafsid dynasty. With the arrival of this dynasty, the city became the capital of a kingdom that gradually expanded towards Tripoli and Fez.

To the prime city, important suburbs are added to the north and south enclosed by another fence surrounding the medina, the kasbah and these new suburbs. Later, in 1270, Tunisia found itself caught up in the Eighth Crusade: Louis IX, hoping to convert the Hafsid ruler to Christianity and pit him against the Egyptian sultan, easily captured Carthage, but his army quickly fell victim to an epidemic of dysentery. Louis IX himself died of it on August 25, 1270, in front of the ramparts of the capital. At the same time, expelled by the Spanish Reconquest, the first Muslim and Jewish Andalusians arrived in Tunisia and took an active part in the economic prosperity and development of intellectual life in the Hafsid capital.

The medina, built on a hill with gentle slopes that descend towards Lake Tunis, is the historic heart of the city and is home to many monuments including palaces such as Dar Ben Abdallah and Dar Hussein, the Beylik Mausoleum of Turbet El Bey or many mosques including the Great Mosque of Zituna . Formerly surrounded by its fortifications, now largely gone, they are framed by the two working-class suburbs of Bab Souik to the north and Bab El Jazeera to the south.

Located in the immediate vicinity of Bab Souika, the popular district of Halfauines known to have been the subject of international attention thanks to the spread of the film Halfauine, child of the terraces. But to the east of this original core, first with the construction of the French consulate, the modern city is gradually constituted, with the establishment of the French protectorate at the end of the 19th century, on the land left free between the medina and the lake because it serves as a reservoir for the waste water of the medieval city.

The axis of the structure of this part of the city is the avenues France and Habib-Bourguib, designed as the Tunisian equivalents of rue Rivoli and Champs Elysées with their cafés, grand hotels, shops and cultural facilities. On either side of this tree-lined axis, north and south, the metropolis has expanded to form different districts with different faces, the north welcoming fairly residential and business districts, while the south welcomes industrial districts. and poorer.

North of Avenue Bourguiba is the Lafayette quarter, which still houses the Great Synagogue of Tunis and the Habib-Thameur Garden, located on the site of an old Jewish cemetery outside the walls. To the southeast, the district of Little Sicily borders the old port area and owes its name to the original settlement of workers from Italy. It is now the subject of a reconstruction project that includes the construction of two twin towers.

North of it, the long Mohammed-V avenue that leads to the African Square or 14 January 2011 crosses the district of the great banks where there are hotels of lakes and congresses, as well as the old headquarters of the party in power. It leads to the residential area Belvedere, which is located around Pasteur Square. Belvedere Park opens here – the largest in the city and its zoo, as well as the Pasteur Institute founded by Adrien Loir in 1893.

Thus, at the beginning of the 21st century, the medina was one of the best-preserved traditional urban units in the Arab world. With an area of 270 hectares (plus 29 hectares for the Kasbah district) and more than 100,000 inhabitants, the Medina represents a tenth of the population of Tunisia and one sixth of the urbanized area of the agglomeration. The urban planning of the Tunisian medina has a peculiarity in that it does not respect geometric layouts or formal compositions.

The complex organization of the urban fabric inspired a whole colonial literature where the dangerous, anarchic and chaotic medina seemed like an ambush territory. However, studies started in the 1930s with the arrival of the first ethnologists showed that the articulation of space in the medina is not random: houses are articulated in a socio-cultural way, codified according to complex types of human relationships. The built-up area is generally characterized by the contiguity of large lots and common ownership.

Domestic (palaces and bourgeois houses), official and civil (libraries and administrations), religious (mosques, tours and zauias) and service (shops and fondues) architectures are very porous despite the clear zoning between shops and apartments. The notion of public space is therefore ambiguous in the case of the medina where streets are considered extensions of houses and subject to social beacons. The concept of individual property is weak and market stalls often overflow onto the public road.

The Souq in Tunisia consists of a veritable network of covered alleys in which there are shops of merchants and artisans grouped by specialty. “Clean” trades are located near the Zitouna mosque because they do not cause any disturbances with smell, noise or water use. These are cloth merchants, perfumers, dried fruit merchants, booksellers and wool merchants, as opposed to tanners, fishermen, potters and blacksmiths who are relegated to the periphery. Thus, there is a codified hierarchy of trades: perfusion trade silk weaving, saddlery, clothing making, slipper production, weaving, pottery and finally blacksmiths and dyers.

North of the Zitouna mosque, which it partly passes by, opens the El Attarine souk (fragrances) built at the beginning of the 18th century. It surprises with its stalls full of bottles containing a wide selection of essences and perfumes. From this souk, the street leads to the Ech-Chaouachine souk (chechias) whose corporation, that of chaouachi, is one of the oldest in the country. They are mostly descendants of Andalusian emigrants expelled from Spain. Two other markets open onto the El Attarine market: the first, which runs along the west facade of the Zitouna Mosque, is the El Kmach souk (fabrics), and the second, the 17th-century El Berka souk, which houses embroideries. but especially goldsmiths. This is why it is the only souk whose doors are still closed and guarded at night.

In the heart of the souq there is a square where the old slave market was located until the middle of the 19th century. The market of El Berka leads to the souk of El Leffa, where all kinds of rugs, blankets and other weavings are sold, and is extended by the souk of Es Sekajine (saddlers), built at the beginning of the 15th century, specializing in leather. On the outskirts are the markets of El Trouk, El Blat, El Blaghgia, El Kebabjia, En Nhas, Es Sabbaghine and El Grana, which sell clothes and blankets and were occupied by Livorno Jews.

Sidi Bou Said is a village in Tunisia, located twenty kilometers northeast of Tunis. It has almost 6000 inhabitants according to the last census. Located on a cliff overlooking Carthage and the Gulf of Tunisia, it rises 130 meters above sea level and bears the name of a Muslim saint in the region: Sidi Bou Said.

The Punic Carthaginians, then the Romans, would use the height of the current Sidi Bou Said to place a fire tower there. A mosaic measuring six by five meters and coins from the time of Augustus also prove the ancient existence of the Roman villa. In antiquity, the village was nicknamed the Cape of Cartagena. After the Arab conquest in the 7th century and the fall of Carthage, this cape maintained its strategic position through the construction of fortifications (ribata) and lighthouses. In the 11th century, the heights of the village were chosen by the Almoravids to defend the northeastern coast of Tunisia. Watchtowers and fire towers are built there. They also give the hill its name: Djebel El Manar (“Mountain of Fire” or “Lighthouse”).

Abu Said Khalaf Ibn Yahya el-Tamimi el-Beji (1156-1231), alias Sidi Bou Said, learns on the street that he lives in Tunisia and has since kept his name. Towards the end of his life, he retired to Jebel Menara, a ribat built on a hill above Cape Carthage, to keep watch and teach Sufism there. Considered an authentic Sufi, he was then nicknamed “Lord of the Seas” because of the protection that sailors sailing near the place thought they received. He died in 1231 and was buried on the hill. In the 18th century, Husein I er Bey (1705-1740) built the current mosque in which he furnished the saint’s zaujiya, which was undoubtedly the first element of the village that would bear his name. Archaeological traces identified on the northern slope suggest that the surrounding wall then bypassed the site. Today, the veneration of saints is alive. From the 17th century, the charm of this village seduced the Tunisian bourgeoisie and the Beylikalle Husseini family, who built luxurious residences in the Arab-Muslim style there, such as Dar Delagi, Dar Mohsen, Dar Thameur, Dar Arif, Dar Lasram, Dar Debbagh, Dar Cherif , Dar Bahri, Naceur Bei Palace, etc.

The village was named Sidi Bou Said when it became the seat of the municipality in 1893. Later, on August 28, 1915, a decree was issued to ensure the protection of the village, imposing the blue color of Sidi Bou Said and the white color so dear to the Baron d’Erlanger and prohibiting any anarchic construction on the cape. Sidi Bou Said is related to the location of Carthage, which UNESCO classified as a world heritage site in 1979. However, UNESCO guidelines are giving way to urbanization that is developing from Sidi Bou Said to La Malga and Salambo; overhead power and telephone lines also mar the landscape.

In addition, the municipality is not able to control the development of the village market. Until 1825, the village of Sidi Bou Said was off limits to non-Muslims. Since that date, Sidi Bou Said has attracted a number of artists, musicians and writers, including Chateaubriand, Gustave Flaubert, Paul Klee, Auguste Mack, Alphonse de Lamartine, Georges Diamel, Jean Divino, Max-Paul Fouche, Colette and Simon, Gideon de Beauvoir .

The houses of Sidi Bou Said, which combine Arabic and Andalusian architecture, with dazzling white exteriors and blue doors, are scattered randomly along the winding streets. Inside, there is often a paved courtyard, T-shaped reception rooms, slender columns, arcades and walls of colored ceramics arranged up to the ceiling. A tourist hotspot in the colors of the Mediterranean Sea, listed since 1915, this place is nicknamed “little white and blue paradise”.

The gift of Ismailia was offered to Bey Hamud Pasha’s slave, freed for her legendary beauty, Leyla Zina bent Abdallah El Genaoui. However, in 1799, Hamuda Pasha put the house up for sale, which passed through the hands of several families, and now belongs to the artist diplomat. Dar El Anabi, the grand residence of Mufti Mohammed Taib El Anabi, formerly Dar Enaifer, was built in the 18th century and remodeled in 1955. It consists of fifty rooms and is nicknamed the “palace of a thousand and one nights”. His library of great value contains essentially Arabic works. It has been converted into a museum featuring traditional Arab-Muslim items and clothing displayed in different rooms, including a 22-kilogram wedding dress. Naceur Bey Palace, originally called Dar Essalam, was owned by Sheikh Ben Achour. Sadok Bey offers it to his nephew, Naceur Bey, who enlarges it to suit his summer beylic requirements.

Home of music, the village is also home to the Center for Arabic and Mediterranean Music in the Rodolphe d’Erlanger (1872-1932) palace, originally Enejmo Ezzahr (“The Shining Star”), also called the “House of the Baron”. French-British baron, painter, musicologist, esthete. At the beginning of the protection of the city and its musical enrichment, he greatly contributes to the notoriety of the locality by upgrading the traditional Tunisian architecture. Utilizing refined interior decoration that he drew and designed himself and a lavish garden whose layout was inspired by the best garden arts in Islamic countries, Erlanger Palace has been open to the public since 1992.

Other large bourgeois summer residences in Arab-Muslim style, also with some Italian inspiration, were built in the 19th century and gradually became the main residences in the 20th century: Dar Essid (purchased in 1955 by Hedi Essid of the Jaafar family) 21, Dar Delagi, Dar Thameur (from Mahmud Bey, sold to the Thameur family), Dar Mohsen, Dar Toumi (now Dar Said Hotel), Dar Sfar, Dar Senoussi, Dar Cherif, Dar Bahri (built and still inhabited by descendants of the Bahri Family), Dar Lasram , Dar Khalsi, Dar Laroussi. Later, in 1973, the US government decided to build its embassy on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Carthage and the Gulf of Tunisia. The construction was entrusted to Brahim Taktak, a Tunisian who graduated in Belgium, whose mission was to update the local architecture to make it comfortable for holding large receptions.

The municipal gallery was originally housed in the former barn of Dar Lasram. It initially became Baron d’Erlanger’s museum, with a permanent display of Andalusian musical instruments Erlanger bought in Spain and his paintings, as well as the art collections held there. they were patiently gathered by the designer of the place and later by his heirs. After the independence of Tunisia, the museum was transformed into a pottery club for children and then into an exhibition gallery available to Tunisian and foreign artists who wish to exhibit. In addition to several art studios, there are other galleries in the village: the Ammar-Farhat Gallery created in 1988 by Abdelaziz Gorgi, the Azzedine Alaia Gallery located in his former house or the Cherif Fine Arts Gallery founded in 1979 by Hamadi Sherif in his father’s house.

Sidi Bou Said is also famous for its cafes whose terraces are very popular places for Tunisians to relax:

  • Cafe Halija (or Cafe des mats) in the center of the village, which used to be the entrance to the mosque, hosted Malouf evenings organized by music lovers from the village.
  • Cafe du Nadhour (from the lighthouse) gathers customers who come to listen to a popular storyteller (fdaoui).
  • Cafe de Sidi Chaabane (or Cafe des Delices), which opened in the late 1960s, offers a unique view of the Gulf of Tunisia.
  • A cafe in the village square that was the domain reserved for the elders of Sidi Bou Said.

Every year in mid-August there is a mystical festival – called Kharja – that mobilizes the whole village, with processions of different religious brotherhoods coming from all over Tunisia to pay their respects and seek blessings in Sidi Bou Said.

My dear travellers and adventurers, we have come to the end of this third special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of Tunis and Sidi Bou Said that adorns the heart of this unusual country on the African continent? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this unusual country!

From Love from Tunis,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Letters from Tunisia: Sousse and Port El Kantaoui, meet the beauties of the African Mediterranean…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of July will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this second post in the series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the warm invitation and hospitality. With their help, the travelogues and fashion stories that you will have the opportunity to read this July were created and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy them.

If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogue from Tunisia or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The second blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to the city of Sousse and Port el Kantaoui, which represent the true beauties of the African Mediterranean. Sousse is a port city in eastern Tunisia, located 143 kilometers south of Tunis, open to the Gulf of Hammamet in the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of the Tunisian Sahel – sometimes called the “pearl of the Sahel” and the capital of the governor of the same name, it is the third municipality in the country after Tunis and Sfax and the fourth agglomeration, Nabul is the third. Medina in Sousse has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.

Similar city names can be found in Libya and southern Morocco, such as the Sousse region. Souss in Moroccan is synonymous with rief, which means nomads or village dwellers in general. However, the term Sous is here attributed to the city, which at that time was a symbol of power and sedentarism.

The municipality of Sousse is the capital of the province, which covers an area of 2,669 square kilometers. It is divided into four municipal districts: Sousse North, Sousse South, Sousse Medina and Sousse Riadh. The first two were founded on February 11, 1976, and the last two on February 19, 1982. Its main constituencies and delegations are four in number: Sousse Sidi Abdelhamid, Sousse Medina, Sousse Jawhara and Sousse Riadh.

I will tell you a little about the history of this unusual city. If the peoples of the sea (a people from ancient Egyptian history) undoubtedly settled earlier in the region of Susa, the Phoenicians are credited with the first known name of the city. In the eleventh century BC, the toponym Hadrim appears, indicating, according to M’hamed Hassine Fantar, an enclosure or a residential area. However, the archaeological remains of the site hardly date from the 6th century BC, the period when Hadrim came under the rule of Carthage and lived with it during the Punic War, retaining its Phoenician identity as evidenced by local burial customs. After losing the battle of Zama, Hannibal Barka, who had estates in the vicinity of Hadrim, forced his soldiers to perform civilian duties and started the planting of many olive trees in the area.

Hadrim gradually freed itself from Carthaginian influence by establishing direct economic and diplomatic relations with Rome, on whose side it sided during the Third Punic War. After the destruction of Carthage, the Hadrumetians became, according to Appian’s expression, “friends of the Roman people”, and the city, renamed Hadrumetum (Hadrumetum), became a privileged and free Roman city, enriched with the decorations of the Roman people. time visible even today.

Later in 46 B.C. she loses some of her privileges and receives a great punishment when she chooses the side of the Pompeians against the victorious Julius Caesar. At the end of the 1st century, Hadrumetum was the first African city to receive the status of an honorary colony granted by the emperor Trajan. As a sign of recognition, monuments are erected that glorify the generous emperor: a triumphal arch, a theater, an amphitheater, thermal baths, etc. The prosperity of the city reached its peak in the 3rd century during the reign of the Severan dynasty.

The trade in olive oil flourished after the founder of the dynasty established free and daily oil distribution in Rome. The city even mints its own currency. When in 238 the city supports the “usurper” Capellianus, it must be subjected to the repression of the new emperor Gordian II. Public monuments and mansions are being demolished, and the once active port is losing its importance. The city regained relative prosperity when, in 297, Emperor Diocletian made Hadrumetum the capital of the new province of Byzacene, which stretched across the center of the country.

When the Vandals expelled the Romans and destroyed the city walls in 439, Hadrumetum took the name Hunerikopolis, taken from the name of Hunericus (son of the Vandal chief Gensericus). Vegetated for a century before it was destroyed by marauders from the south of the country and just before the arrival of Byzantine troops. The port, completely cloudy, was rehabilitated by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, whose name the city took in 535 (Justinianopolis) and became the capital of one of the seven provinces of the African Eparchy. The Byzantine period lasts about 135 years.

The beginning of the Arab-Muslim period can be said to start from the year 670, when Okba Ibn Nafi al-Fihri besieged the city which was named Susa. It is primarily an agglomeration that received a ribat in 787 and was populated mainly by ascetics in charge of coastal defense. The new development of Susa comes from the second Aglabid prince Ziadet-Allah I, who provided the city with a shipyard from which ships set out to conquer Sardinia, Malta, Sicily and Rome. In the 9th century, the city opened up and accepted Muslims, Christians and Jews. Then it becomes the second city of Ifrikiia and the first in the Sahel. During the Fatimid period, the prosperity of Susa suffered only moderately from the establishment of the Mahdiyya. The city, which exports its fabrics to the east and west, is also a prosperous olive-growing town.

By 1159, Sousse was attacked and then occupied by the Normans from Sicily who conquered it in 1148. But its decline, from the twelfth century, was mainly due to the promotion of Tunis as the capital under the Hafsid rule, the impoverishment of the hinterland whose seafaring represented a maritime outlet and in the thirteenth century, competition from textiles exported from Europe, the period during which the Genoese settled in Sousse. The city was subjected to a short Spanish occupation between 1537 and 1574. During the Ottoman era (1574-1881), the city regained its importance. At that time, in the 17th century, Sousse was the second trading port in the country.

In addition to embroiderers and weavers, there are also artisan potters who export their production throughout the Mediterranean basin. At the end of the 18th century, the city suffered from French (1770) and Venetian (1784 and 1786) bombardments. The city fell into decline after 1864 when it sided with Sadok Beg in a rebellion against taxes. It passed, like the whole of Tunisia, under the French protectorate from 1881. However, with the creation of a new port in 1884, the role of a maritime sales point for products from the steppe was restored.

The municipality of Sousse was founded on July 16, 1884. Since this date in the late 19th century, Sousse has seen the arrival and settlement of many Europeans, especially of French and Italian origin, who had to leave the country after its independence.

The eastern part of the medina is completed by the expanded port from 1899. Further north stretches the new town built under the French protectorate and is characterized by wide straight streets and a promenade overlooking the sea where the hotels are lined up towards Port El-Kantaoui. The Medina in Sousse, like the one in Tunisia, was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. One of the elements that sets it apart is the location of the main mosque, which is not in the city center. Like the ribat, it was responsible for protecting the arsenal’s artificial pool, which explains its military appearance.

Ribat was originally a small fortress built in the early days of the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb to protect the city’s borders. The term also refers to places that are home to Sufis. Over time, they become lodges for travelers, but also refuges for mystics. In this sense, the ribats are perhaps the source of the first streams of Sufism. In this sense, we can assimilate these places with zaouias. A marabout, a term used indiscriminately in North Africa to refer to saints, tribal chiefs and folk healers, is therefore someone who lives in a ribat.

Ribat was created during the reign of the Aghlabid dynasty, but after the construction of the city walls in 859, it gradually lost its military function. While there is a small mosque on the first floor, the basement has been converted into various rooms and warehouses, while traces of the olive press remain. The imposing entrance, flanked by two columns in the Corinthian style, was designed as a double door, which served to block access to the fortress. As for the Kasbah, it is located in the highest part of the medina and dates back to the year 844. In 853, the 30-meter-high lighthouse was named after the eunuch of the Aglabid sovereign Ziadet-Allah I (Khalaf El Fata). Since 1951, the Archaeological Museum in Sus has been housed in its walls.

The Souq in Sousse is amazing, a tangle of alleys where you can find everything from interesting souvenirs to jewelry made of semi-precious and precious stones, as well as jewelry made of precious metals. Of course, the market in Sousse has a rich selection of clothes and shoes that you can easily fit into your style and bring the spirit of North African fashion into your wardrobe.

For lovers of handicrafts, pottery and home items, here you can find a lot of interesting pieces with which you can beautify and enrich your living space. As for the prices, as in every market and bazaar there is the possibility of haggling, so you can show and practice your negotiation skills.

Port El-Kantaoui is a marina located northwest of the city of Sousse, which has become one of the most important seaside resorts of Tunisia. The project to create an integrated tourist resort on 307 hectares stems from the idea of Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, who wants to develop tourism in the Sahel region.

It was studied in 1971 by the Tunisian tourist finance company in the area of Sidi El-Kantaoui, which is located in the territory of the Hammam Sousse municipality, north of Sousse. It is up to the Societe d’etudes et de developpement de Sousse-Nord to study the economic and financial possibilities of the project and to assume the role of general promoter. When work began under the direction of Olivier-Clement Cacoub, the port was excavated and small residential buildings (Maisons de la Mer) were built around its perimeter. The hotel complex is a structure that marks the entrance to the port. The port was opened in 1979 and the Societe hoteliere et tourisme du Port El-Kantaoui delegated the task of developing and managing the resort to the Societe d’etudes et de developpement de Sousse-Nord.

An 18-hole golf course was installed in 1980 on 130 hectares on the hillside, and in the late 1990s, the land occupied by the parking lot at the entrance to the harbor allowed the complex to be expanded by construction. a new district (Houses of the Gardens) and a permanent fairground (Hannibal Park) that allows diversification of the activities offered in free time. Three to five star hotels are being built around the complex and along the coast towards Chott Meriem in the north and Hammam Sousse in the south.

The port is a real village, mostly pedestrian, built according to an architecture reminiscent of the village of Sidi Bou Said in its Arabic-Moorish style, the whiteness of its walls, arcades, arches and alleys decorated with flowers. The resort has many shops, including restaurants, cafes and shops for foreign tourists who visit the place for its seven kilometers of beach. In addition, during the summer period, the port hosts many events, including the International Summer Internet Festival, regattas, music stages and numerous other activities.

These riches also attract many Sahelians who come to relax a bit during weekends or holidays. The construction of Yasmina Hammamet in the early 2000s did not cause a decline in attendance. The harbor can accommodate up to 340 boats on a total area of four hectares.

My dear adventurers, we have come to the end of this second special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of Sousse and Port El Kantaoui that adorns the heart of this unusual country on the African continent? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this far-flung, unusual country!

From Love from Sousse,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Letter from Tunisia: The Magnificent Amphitheater in El Jem…

My dear travellers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of July will be dedicated to an unusual country on the African continent – Tunisia, a country known for its olives. At the very beginning of this series of travelogues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, the travelogues and fashion stories that you will have the opportunity to read this July were created and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy them.

The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. It houses the archaeological sites of Carthage dating back to the 9th century BC, as well as the Great Mosque of Kairouan.

Tunisia is known for its ancient architecture, markets and blue shores, it covers approximately 164,000 km2 and has a population of around 12 million. It contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern part of the Sahara Desert, and much of the remaining territory of Tunisia is arable land. With almost 1,300 km of coastline, it includes the African junction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean basin. Tunisia is home to the northernmost point of Africa – Cape Angel, and its capital and largest city is Tunis, located on its northeastern coast, after which the country gets its name.

The first blog post in the series of travelogues about Tunisia will be dedicated to El Jem, the city that is home to the largest amphitheater in Africa. El Jem is a city in Mahdia province in Tunisia. According to the last census, this city has about 22,000 inhabitants. The Roman city of Thysdrus was built, like almost all Roman settlements in old Tunisia, on former Punic settlements. In a less arid climate than today, Thysdrus thrived as an important center of olive oil production and export. It was the seat of a Christian diocese, which is included in the list of titular sees of the Catholic Church. At the beginning of the 3rd century, when the amphitheater was built, Thisdrus rivaled Hadrumetum (present-day Sousse) as the second city of Roman North Africa after Carthage.

However, after a failed rebellion that began there in 238 and Gordianus’ suicide in his villa near Carthage, Roman troops loyal to Emperor Maximinus Thrax sacked the city. The city is shown on Peutinger’s map from the 4th century.

The Amphitheater of El Jem is an oval amphitheater in the present-day city of El Jem in Tunisia, formerly Thysdrus in the Roman province of Africa. It has been on the UNESCO list since 1979 as a world heritage site. The amphitheater was built around 238 AD in Thysdrus, located in the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. It is one of the best preserved Roman stone ruins in the world, and is unique in Africa. Like other amphitheatres in the Roman Empire, it was built for spectator events and is one of the largest amphitheatres in the world. The estimated capacity is 35,000 spectators, and the dimensions of the major and minor axes are 148 meters and 122 meters. The amphitheater is built of stone blocks, is located on level ground and is extremely well preserved.

El Jam amphitheater is the third amphitheater built on the same site. It is believed to have been built by the local proconsul Gordian, who became emperor as Gordian II. In the Middle Ages, it served as a fortress, and the population sought shelter here during the attacks of the Vandals in 430 and the Arabs in 647. Later, in 1695 during the Tunisian revolutions, Mohammed Bey El Mouradi made an opening in one of the walls. to stop the resistance of the followers of his brother Ali Bey al-Muradi who gathered inside the amphitheater. It is believed that the amphitheater was used as a saltpeter factory in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Around 1850, Ahmad I ibn Mustafa widened the breach in the wall to approximately 30 meters. In the second half of the 19th century, the building was used for shops, apartments and grain storage.

The amphitheater probably hosted gladiator fights as well as chariot races and other circus games, but above all wild animal exhibitions and reenactments of particularly popular wild animal hunts. This “Great Amphitheater”, the most famous Roman monument in Tunisia, is the best preserved amphitheater in North Africa. According to official data, the amphitheater hosts around 530,000 visitors every year.

The theater building is the third amphitheater built in the city of Thysdrus, a city enriched by olive growing and trade, it is also the most complete and best preserved. The city is the only one with such a large number of remains of this type, which allows experts to understand their evolution. The second amphitheater, whose presence was already foreseen by Charles Tissot, was discovered in the 1960s, while the first one was discovered thanks to the excavations carried out by Hedi Slim in 1973.

The first amphitheater building with a capacity of 6,000 spectators was described as rudimentary, embryonic or “very old”. Jean-Claude Golvin believes that it dates from the 1st century AD. The place chosen for its construction, where they were buried in pre-Roman times, is the only natural relief in the area suitable for construction. The building is actually carved into a tufa hill without masonry and irregularly shaped.

The stands, limited in number, were carved into the rock and a cavea was excavated there. The arena measured 49 by 40 meters while the bleachers, which seemed to erode rather quickly, were repaired with mud bricks. The presence of the building seems to be linked to the establishment in the city of an Italian theater-loving community, perhaps of Campanian or Etruscan origin, these two regions being the cradle of the amphitheater games. The second building, spread out with a solid construction, was built on the same hill as the previous one at the end of the 1st century AD or the 3rd century, but more elliptical in shape due to the embankment placed on the arena and the tribune of the previous building. The embankment of the arena, 2.50 meters high, made it possible to obtain the correct shape.

OUTFIT

Linen Shirt: Loro Piana

Trousers: Loro Piana

Loafers: Fratelli Rossetti

The grandstands are placed in brick compartments, of different sizes and separated by spaces, for a total capacity of 7,000 spectators. There appear to have been 24 sections of which 16 remain in various states of preservation. The arena had dimensions of 60 by 40 meters, and the total size was 92 meters by 72 meters. Golwin evokes both the lodge and the chapel located on the western axis. Aesthetics are absent in the construction, but the technical improvements are significant, making it more functional. At the time of the Severian dynasty, at the beginning of the 3rd century, the city was in strong development, thanks to the flourishing trade in olive oil and wheat, favored by the situation at the crossroads of trade routes.

As the second amphitheater became insufficient, it was replaced by the present building, even more advanced, built on level ground, a method also used in Carthage, Nimes or Rome. Its construction would be connected with the manifestation of the urban elite’s evergetism. For Hedi Slim, his price contradicts several epigraphic traces of local euergetism, especially regarding the organization of the games. The later side of the build led to the correction of problems encountered during previous builds, for greater functionality, and these innovations also accounted for the longevity factor.

Although the city is gradually replacing Suphetul as the economic capital of the region and the trade routes are gradually moving away from it, Tisdrus continues to play a military role due to the transformation of the building into a fortress. Archaeological excavations date the abandonment of the amphitheater to the second half of the 5th century, giving an approximate duration of activity of two centuries. Already in the Byzantine era, the amphitheater became a fortress and refuge, this was witnessed in 647 after the Byzantine defeat of Sbeitla against the Arab armies. The transformation was carried out by blocking the arcade on the ground floor and equipping other installations, including a tower that was found during recent excavations.

The monument is sometimes called “Xar de la Cahenna”, named after a Berber princess from the 7th century. century that gathered the tribes to prevent the advance of the Muslim conqueror. Defeated and persecuted, she took refuge in the amphitheater with her supporters and resisted there for almost four years. According to legend, she was betrayed by her young lover, who stabbed her before sending her embalmed head to the leader of the Arab army. The building is mentioned by Al-Bakri in the 11th century and At-Tiyani, both of whom suggest that it offered effective protection, which is difficult to reconcile with the state of the ruins. The disappearance of the tribune and elements of the upper floor would therefore be later and progressive.

Despite the partial destruction due to the use of its stones to build the city of El Djem, the third amphitheater is still remarkably well preserved and is believed to have remained intact until the 17th century. Victor Guerin specifies in his report that around 1695, according to Arab tradition, the outer facade, which had remained almost intact until then, began to collapse. The Bailician power would on this date put down a rebellion of tax origin and make breakthroughs with cannon strikes to prevent the site from serving as a refuge for the local population. The place was nevertheless used for this purpose in the mid-19th century during the last rebellion. After further degradation, the population is largely pulled out of the ruins.

The site has been visited since the 17th century and especially in the 19th century, and then this movement intensified with the establishment of the protection of the remains. Restorations were carried out in the first half of the 20th century, on part of the destroyed facade, as well as the clearing of the arena and underground spaces. Tourism increased in the 20th century, reaching around 530,000 annual visitors in 2008, making it the second most visited place in Tunisia.

In 1979, the site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The uneven state of preservation of building materials, as well as falling stones and even vaults, made necessary a campaign of consolidation and restoration financed by the Tunisian government and a private foundation. Consolidation made it possible to avoid new rockfalls and to remove irreparably damaged parts. The restoration, using material taken from the excavated ruins, aimed to, in addition to preserving the monument, open it to visitors in the most educational way possible. One of the means for this increased accessibility was the restoration of vaults and stairs.

The restoration of the stands intended for 500 spectators also allows to “contribute to the cultural revitalization of the building”. The work on the reconstruction of the pillars also helped to reconstruct the elliptical shape of the structure. The campaign also made it possible to complete the knowledge of the monument, especially the rainwater recovery system and the foundations. Many fragments of the grandstand in the arena have also been unearthed. Due to the differences in level between the modern city and the building, its immediate surroundings have been developed with both plant and mineral resources.

Due to good acoustics and restorations, the amphitheater has hosted the International Festival of Symphonic Music El Jam every summer since 1985. In November 2019, restoration work began, a project that was realized thanks to funding of half a million dollars from the Ambassador Fund for the Preservation of Culture, which was initiated by the Embassy of the United States of America, to which the Ministry of Culture of Tunisia also contributed aid in the amount of one million Tunisian dinars.

Due to its position in the middle of more or less bare steppe expanses, the amphitheater impresses not only with its massive appearance but also with the beauty of the patina of its walls. It was built on flat land north of the site of the ancient city. In the absence of limestone in this region of Tunisia, the walls and supports of the great amphitheater were built from dune sandstone, a material easily cut from the coastal quarries of Rejiche-Salakta. The building is the only one in the Roman world that was built in hewn stone and the only building in the city built with this material, a sign of prestige attached to the monument.

The material, white at the time of extraction, has become ocher over time. However, the stone used, which is not very resistant, is sensitive to erosion and wear. According to Golvin, this fragility of the stone is the explanation for the thickness of the walls, and therefore for the massive side of the building. Excavations of the foundation revealed that the site was used to carve a large part of its elements, including decorative elements. The precise size of the cutouts of the blocks is responsible for the aesthetic choice, especially for the voussoirs which here have a re-entrant angle, while elsewhere they often have a prominent angle. Despite the unfinished decorative elements, traces of ancient restoration indicate that the monument was used. Vaults were partly built of rubble, while brick was widely used in other buildings of the same type. This way of construction makes it a special building on the African continent.

In addition to the amphitheater, the city had a theater and a circus, which have not been excavated to this day. The monumental fineness of the city allowed the spread of leisure that belonged to the Roman way of life: archaeologists have thus found many representations of amphitheater games in private habitations, especially in mosaics. The three Thisdritan amphitheatres testify to the enduring enthusiasm for the games. Even if the presence of the Italians makes it possible to explain the precocity of placing such a monument in this place, the devotion of the local population was able to express itself especially through tastes for certain types of performances, those that fought against wild animals called venationes and to a lesser extent those that were opposed to gladiators.

Animals are depicted as elements of detail, but sometimes as the main theme: the fights are illustrated by two mosaics discovered in the “House of the Dionysian Procession”, a mosaic of lions devouring a boar and a mosaic of a tiger attacking an onager. Hunting restitutions can also be simple simulations of the capture of wild animals with, in the hands of the supposed hunters, fictitious weapons. The amphitheater could also serve as the place of execution of the delivered beasts, as shown by a mosaic in the El Jem Archaeological Museum.

The large amphitheater was not used for organizing naumahi, due to the difficult water supply of the region and the lack of waterproofing, without which such demonstrations could be dangerous for the building. The amphitheater made it possible for various professional associations called sodalites to develop in the city of Tisdra, which owned animals and made them available to the organizers of the games for a fee. Such competition may have created tensions in the ancient city. The mosaic called the bestiaries feasting in the arena, Bardo National Museum, has been compared to this presence of the sodality: the guests are around the table, in front of them are figures, probably servants, one of which is a sleeping tauri in the foreground lying bulls. These diners have various symbols next to them. The discussion is noisy and results in the awakening of some bulls who all have symbols on their hind legs.

My dear travellers, we have come to the end of this first special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Tunisia where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the northern part of the African continent. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Tunisian culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Tunisia.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Tunisian culture in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Tunisia and the presentation of El Jem, as well as this beautiful amphitheater that adorns the heart of this unusual country on the African continent? Have you had the chance to visit Tunisia so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

In the following stories from Tunisia, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey takes you to this far-flung, unusual country!

From Love from El Jem,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia – Discover Tunisia, as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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The Bank Hotel Istanbul: A Remarkable Combination of deep-rooted History with Eclectic Architecture

My dear travelers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to a new post on the Mr.M blog. People who have been following the Mr.M blog for years know that traveling is my passion and an integral part of my job, and it is always necessary to have reliable partners. During my last visit to the imperial city on two continents, I accepted the invitation of an interesting hotel that represents an extraordinary combination of deep-rooted history with eclectic architecture – The Bank Hotel Istanbul.

The story of this hotel began in the famous street in Istanbul – Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street), where The Bank Hotel Istanbul is located. This is no ordinary street because it hides a rich and unusual history. Once known as Voyvoda Street, it has always played a central role in Galata’s life. The importance of this axis, which was formed as a road together with the inner city walls of Galata, can be recognized as the building of the Parliament of Genoa Palazzo del Comune and the square Piazza Market.

The Genoese community (Magnifica Comunita di Peira) continued in semi-private status until 1682. In the mentioned years, European merchants developed and improved because there were various shops and banks in that area, and local Ottoman administrations were also located there. This street has retained its importance as it did in the Ottoman era. Hence, it can be understood that the street was named after the apartments and residence of the Duke, the local administrator responsible for public order in Galata. In the street below Voyvoda is Mahkeme Street, where Galata Court was located. The name Voyvoda Street was given by Evliya Çelebi, who at that time was a famous explorer in the 17th century, and the street became the center of finance and trade of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.

The unusual meeting of Yılmaz Ulusoy Holding and the hotel building As mentioned earlier, the Bank Hotel building was built in 1867 by Antoine Tedeschi in the Neo-Renaissance style and still emphasizes the importance of the historical value of the city. It is a perfect reflection of the eclectic architectural style of the 19th century. In 2010, their property was bought by Mr. Yılmaz Ulusoy and they started a new adventure in their story that continues since the 1860s. Moreover, the hotel building was created as a combination of two buildings; The Sümerbank building and the Cemaathan building, the former community center of Neve Shalom.

The Bank Hotel Istanbul is located on Banks Street, formerly known as Voyvoda Street and is the center of jewelers and bankers. The trademark of Yılmaz Ulusoy Holding “The Bank Hotel Istanbul” is his first step in the restoration of the building, which has historical and cultural values, with the aim of keeping it alive from the past to the present. After the hotel building was bought by Mr. Yılmaz Ulusoy, the restoration works were carried out by the architect Han Tumertekin.

The building still today reflects the identity of the region where it is located, since its creation in the 19th century. The Bank Hotel Istanbul building, which has been restored on the principle of restoring it by preserving its original condition and protecting its artistic value, continues to host its guests with its meeting rooms, historical calculators, cash registers and life experiences. Who is Mr. Yılmaz Ulusoy? Yılmaz Ulusoy, whose business life for more than half a century has been crowned with the story of a productive, this hard-working and highly positioned businessman is still in the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of Yılmaz Ulusoy Holding A.S., which operates in many sectors, especially in the branches of tourism, shipping, energy and construction.

During my stay I had the opportunity to stay in a Deluxe King room with a usable area of 29 square meters. These rooms feature colorful ceilings, a green Carrara marble bathroom with a rain shower, specially designed furniture and lighting, a wide sofa and a motorized curtain system. Most rooms have large windows and 5 meter high ceilings. What is important to know about all room categories in this hotel:

  • All rooms are designed by Sinan Kafadar in warm and organic colors, special interior decoration
  • Workable ceilings and parquet floors
  • The radiators are protected in their original condition
  • Blackout curtains and LCD TV
  • Blankets and pillows made of goose feathers
  • All rooms have a work desk
  • Loccitane bathroom products
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Mini bar
  • Free internet
  • There is a free coffee machine as well as tea making facilities.

The story of Serica restaurant is inspired by the Silk Road, which brings us traditional recipes of ancient civilizations that sprung from the Mountain of the Gods thousands of years ago and stretched to Istanbul. Although the legacy of the food culture of the Gokturks civilization, which is a nomadic and conquering society to which Turkic communities feel a sense of belonging, is very extensive, other nomadic civilizations that left a mystical gastronomic path to the Silk Road also have different storage and cooking techniques. Serica’s menu was created by the famous chef Tolga Atalaj, bringing together the flavors that the Silk Road gave to the world of gastronomy. The historian of gastronomy, Ozge Samanci, is also a major contributor to the research. Every detail of the recipes that make up the menu contains emotions, tastes, smells and colors that reflect this historic giant road.

In addition to the exceptional Serica Restaurant, this hotel also has the Bank Roof Bar, located in Karakoy, one of the most beloved areas of Istanbul’s history, offering its guests an unforgettable experience with signature cocktails and unique flavors with a magnificent view of the historic peninsula.

Of course, there is also the Lobby Bar & Restaurant in the warm and sophisticated aura of The Bank Istanbul Hotel, located in the center of the bohemian Karakoy, offering its guests the tastes of world cuisine and buffet breakfast options, as well as various cocktails and drinks.

The Spa at The Bank Hotel Istanbul offers modern and traditional care with a classic Turkish hammam in white marble, a fitness center, sauna, steam room and three massage and facial rooms (including a couples room). The spa is available to hotel guests and visitors by appointment.

The Bank Hotel Istanbul represents the pearl of the Marriott International hotel design brand with a rich history and an example of eclectic architecture. This hotel is located in the immediate vicinity of Galata Tower, Galata Bridge and the famous Taksim Square.

Taksim Square located in the Beyoglu area (Beyoglu) in the European part of Istanbul is a major tourist and recreational area known for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network.

Do you perhaps know where the word Taksim comes from? The word Taksim means “division” or “distribution” in Arabic. Taksim Square was originally where the main waters from the north of Istanbul collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name.) This use was established for the area by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from an Ottoman-era stone reservoir that located on one side of the square.

Today, Taksim is a cultural center with numerous places for entertainment and relaxation, that part of Istanbul never sleeps!

Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) historically known as Pera Grand Avenue in Beyoglu (Pera) historical district, is a 1.4 kilometer long avenue, a famous pedestrian street and one of the most famous streets in Istanbul. It got its modern name after the proclamation of the Republic on October 29, 1923, Istiklal (Independence) in commemoration of Turkey’s triumph in the War of Independence. The street starts at the northern end of Galata at Tunel Square and goes to Taksim Square. This street features buildings from the late Ottoman era, mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries in a variety of styles, including Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau, and the first Turkish national architecture.

There are also several Art Deco buildings from the early years of the Turkish Republic, as well as a number of more recent examples of modern architecture. This street used to be mostly residential blocks, but today most of it is now occupied by boutiques, music stores, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, libraries, cafes, pubs, night clubs with live music, hotels, historic patisserie, chocolate bars, restaurants and a growing number international chains of well-known stores. There is even a branch of Madame Tussauds Istanbul on this street.

The Galata Tower (Turkish: Galata Kulesi), officially the Galata Tower Museum, is an old Genoese tower in the Galata section of the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, Turkey. Built as an observation tower at the highest point of the (lost) walls of Galata, the tower is now an exhibition space and museum and a symbol of Beyoglu and Istanbul.

During the Byzantine period, Emperor Justinian ordered a tower to be erected in what was to become Galata. This tower was destroyed during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. In 1267, a Genoese colony was founded in the Galata part of Constantinople. It was surrounded by walls, and the Galata Tower was first built on their highest point as the Romanesque Christ Tower in 1348 during the expansion of the colony. At that time, the Galata Tower, at 67 meters, was the tallest building in the city. After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Genoese colony was abolished and the walls demolished. The tower was allowed to survive and was turned into a prison.

There is a legend that in 1638 Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi allegedly tied his wings and made the first intercontinental flight from the roof of the Galata Tower, landing in Dogancılar Meidanı in Uskudar on the Asian side of the city, a story of dubious authenticity told by the Ottoman travel writer Evliya Çelebi. From 1717, the Ottomans used the tower for fire protection (on the old Istanbul side of the city, the Beyazit Tower had the same function). In 2020, the Galata Tower was restored and then reopened as a museum. The tower is mainly popular for the 360-degree view of Istanbul from the observation deck.

The Galata Bridge is a bridge that spans the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Especially since the end of the 19th century, the bridge appears in Turkish literature, theater, poetry and novels. The current Galata Bridge is only the latest in a series of bridges that have connected Eminonu in the Fatih district and Karakoy in Beyoglu since the early 19th century. The current bridge, the fifth in the same place, was built in 1994. The bridge was named after Galata on the northern coast of the Golden Horn.

My dear travelers, we have come to the end of this special travelogue about The Bank Istanbul Hotel and I believe you will take the opportunity to stay at this hotel during your next visit to the imperial city on two continents. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the world’s Turkish airline – Turkish Airlines and The Bank Istanbul Hotel, which allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Turkish culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey my impressions about this unusual experience from Turkey.

A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.

I would like to give special thanks to the staff of The Bank Hotel Istanbul for their warm welcome and hosting me in their hotel. The stay in their hotel was exceptional, a unique experience that I will remember!

I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank Turkish Airlines and The Bank Hotel Istanbul once again for this amazing adventure and for allowing me to experience it in a very different way. I feel the beauty of this unusual Turkish culture.

How did you like my story about the unusual The Bank Istanbul Hotel and the presentation of the imperial city on two continents? Have you had the chance to visit Istanbul yet?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

With love from Istanbul,

Mr.M

This post is sponsored by world airline Turkish Airlines and The Bank Istanbul Hotel as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Turkish Airlines: Take Advantage of the Stopover in Istanbul!

My dear travelers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to a new post on the Mr.M blog. I would like to thank you for the many messages and emails you have sent me regarding the adventure in China. I am pleased to know that you liked your adventure in China and that you enjoyed my travelogues during May. Today’s story will be dedicated to the new service of the leading Turkish airline, Turkish Airlines, with which you will have the opportunity to enjoy the charms of Istanbul.

If by any chance you missed reading travelogues from China or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:

  1. Letters from China: Explore the Peal of the Far East with Turkish Airlines
  2. Letters from China: The Peninsula Beijing, explore the first luxury hotel in the heart of Beijing
  3. Letters from China: Tiananmen Square, let’s explore The Gate of Heavenly Peace together
  4. Letters from China: The Temple of Heaven, the Imperial Sacrificial Altar in the Heart of Beijing
  5. Letters from China: The Summer Palace and The Great Wall of China

As I promised you in the first travelogue from China, today I will explain in more detail the new Turkish Airlines program called – Stopover in Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines is the Turkish national airline, which from 2022 operates regular flight services to 340 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, which makes it the largest major carrier in the world by the number of passenger destinations. Interestingly, Turkish Airlines serves more destinations with direct flights from one airport – Istanbul, than any other airline in the world and flies to 126 countries, more than any other airline.

Today I will introduce the Istanbul Stopover program, which offers all Turkish Airlines passengers the opportunity to explore Istanbul. Passengers connecting via Istanbul Airport can enrich their trip by discovering the history and cultural life of the city with the Istanbul Stopover program and enjoy free accommodation in partner hotels.

What exactly does the Stopover in Istanbul program enable? Turkish Airlines provides 1 free night in a 4-star hotel for economy class passengers and 2 free nights in a 5-star hotel for business class passengers on a bed and breakfast basis. Free accommodation in the Istanbul Stopover program is available for flights from different cities, so you can check the LIST and find Stopover departure & destination points.

NOTE: If you are traveling to distant destinations, you can contact Turkish Airlines and find out about the possibility of using this program depending on the final destination.

Conditions that must be met in order to be able to use the Stopover in Istanbul program:

  • Travelers who wish to take advantage of this benefit of free accommodation in Istanbul should choose a connection with a minimum 20-hour waiting time.
  • Free accommodation is only valid for passengers who purchase a return ticket and can only be used in one direction during the trip, on the way out or on the way back.
  • Free accommodation is only valid for Turkish Airlines flights with tickets.
  • The entire procedure of booking and issuing the hotel voucher must be completed 72 hours before the trip.
  • The costs of the transfer between the airport and the hotel and the Turkish visa (if required) are covered by the passenger.
  • Travelers using the free accommodation service cannot use the TourIstanbul service at the same time.
  • The departure and return country of the round trip must be the same for a stopover to apply.
  • The boarding pass and hotel voucher must be shown when checking in at the hotel.
  • Travelers who do not have a hotel voucher with them cannot use the free accommodation service.
  • Passengers with reissued tickets due to flight cancellation or any other irregularity cannot use this service.
  • Free accommodation is subject to hotel availability and Turkish Airlines has the right to change conditions at any time.

Turkish Airlines has two programs for passengers TourIstanbul and Stopover in Istanbul. What is the difference between these programs?

The Touristanbul program is for all Turkish Airlines passengers who have an international flight with a stopover in Istanbul and the connection time is between 6 and 24 hours. In that case, you can take advantage of Turkish Airlines’ free Touristanbul service to discover Istanbul. You can choose one of the eight tours offered by Touristanbul according to the time frame that best suits your flight’s arrival and departure schedule. During the tours, you can visit the most prominent historical sights of Istanbul and enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine. In the city that never sleeps, Touristanbul offers an unforgettable experience. After landing at Istanbul airport, a vehicle will pick you up and return you to the airport at the end of the tour. Although the tour time is carefully arranged and planned, if the guest is unable to take the flight in cases that are our responsibility, we will ensure that the passenger arrives at the destination smoothly on the next flight.

The Stopover in Istanbul program provides a free overnight stay in partner hotels on a bed and breakfast basis. Turkish Airlines provides 1 free night in a 4-star hotel for economy class passengers and 2 free nights in a 5-star hotel for business class passengers on a bed and breakfast basis.

THE DIFFERENCE: Touristanbul is a program of a short visit to Istanbul with a provided meal and a tour of Istanbul, while Stopover in Istanbul is a program that exclusively provides bed and breakfast in partner hotels without the tour of Istanbul, you are free to discover Istanbul on your own.

How to apply for the Stopover in Istanbul program through the Turkish Airlines office? At least 72 hours before the first flight, all Turkish Airlines passengers who meet the above conditions of this program can make a reservation by emailing their first and last name, reservation code (PNR) and ticket number, desired dates of accommodation, desired room type , phone number and e-mail address. For all departures, you can check the LIST and find Stopover departure & destination points and contact information.

When Turkish Airlines receives your request, you will receive a hotel voucher that must be presented at hotel check-in.

If you want to apply for this program through the Turkish Airlines website, you can do so at this LINK.

Partner hotels participating in this program are:

Stopover in Istanbul partner hotels for Turkish Airlines passengers with economy class tickets (1 free night with breakfast):

Stopover in Istanbul partner hotels for Turkish Airlines passengers with business class tickets (2 free nights with breakfast):

Since you have successfully qualified for the Stopover in Istanbul Turkish Airlines program, I would like to share with you some suggestions of what you should visit during your visit to the city on two continents that never sleeps – Istanbul.

Misir Bazaar – Spice Bazaar – Egyptian Bazaar

One market, many names, a place where all your senses will delight. This market is one of the biggest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminonu district of Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi). Why was this bazaar named “Egyptian bazaar”? It got this name because it was built with revenues from the Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt in 1660. The word mışır has a double meaning in Turkish: “Egypt” and “corn”. That is why the name is sometimes wrongly translated as “Corn Bazaar”.

The bazaar was (and still is) the center of the spice trade in Istanbul, but in recent years shops of other kinds have gradually replaced the spice sellers. The building itself is part of the New Mosque complex. The income obtained from the rented shops in the bazaar building was used for the maintenance of the mosque. The structure was designed by the court architect Koca Kasım Aga, but construction work began under the supervision of another court architect, Mustafa Aga, in the last months of 1660, after the Great Fire of Istanbul in 1660.

After the fire, a major restoration and reconstruction began in the city, which included the continuation of work on the construction of the New Mosque in 1660, the work was temporarily stopped between 1603 and 1660, the construction of the mosque was finally completed in the period between 1660 and 1665. and the beginning of the construction of the mosque. the construction of the Spice Bazaar in the same year, as well as all the buildings in the Kulliie New Mosque, including the Spice Bazaar, was ordered by Sultania Turhan Khatija, Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of Sultan Mehmed IV.

SULTANAHMET – HAYA SOFIA – BLUE MOSQUE

Sultanahmet Square, once known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople, is today a square in Istanbul, in the immediate vicinity of which are the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Previously, it was a circus that was the sports and social center of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (ippos) – horse and dromos – road. For this reason, it is sometimes called Atmeidanı (“Horse Square”) in Turkish. Horse and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world, and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.

The Blue Mosque of Istanbul, also known by its official formal name, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a historic Ottoman-era imperial mosque located in the center of the old part of the city. A functional mosque, it also attracts a large number of tourists. It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the reign of Ahmed I.

Its Kulije contains Ahmed’s grave, a madrasa and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the interior walls of the mosque, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight side domes. It is located next to Hagia Sophia, the main mosque in Istanbul until the construction of the Blue Mosque and another popular tourist spot. In 1985, the Blue Mosque was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Historic Areas of Istanbul”.

Hagia Sophia (literal translation ‘Holy Wisdom’), officially the Great Mosque Hagia Sophia is a mosque and the main cultural and historical site in the old part of the city. The cathedral was originally built as a Greek Orthodox church that lasted from 360 AD until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. It served as a mosque until 1935, when it became a museum. Two years ago, in 2020 to be exact, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again.

The current building was built by the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as a Christian cathedral in Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, and was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralus. The official name of the church was the Church of the Holy Wisdom. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is considered to have “changed the history of architecture”.

The current Justinian building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, since the previous one was destroyed in the riots in Nicaea. As the episcopal seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years, until the Cathedral of Seville was completed in 1520. Beginning with later Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic form of the Orthodox Church and its architectural style modeled on Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as “occupying a unique position in the Christian world” and as an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Orthodox civilization.

Eminönü

Eminonu, historically known as Perama is a predominantly commercial coastal area in Istanbul within the Fatih district near the mouth of the Golden Horn with the southern entrance to the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. It is connected to Karaköy (the historic Galata Tower) via the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn. From 1928 to 2009 it was part of the Sultanahmet district when Sultanahmet was absorbed into Fatih. The bustling main square of Eminonu is overlooked by the New Mosque (Ieni Cami in Turkish) and the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Carsısı in Turkish). Eminonu is an important transport hub.