Tunis Sights and Landmarks Guide, Tunisia
Tunisia has been termed as the kaleidoscope nation of Northern Africa. From Mediterranean beaches to the Sahara desert and from ancient souks to modern day malls, Tunisia has it all. This Arab-Berber nation is one of the most liberal in the Islamic world where alcohol is freely available and women need not feel intimidated.
The capital city of Tunis reflects its country’s cultural diversity. Its French colonial past has a far-reaching influence evident even until this day and age. One of the most obvious examples is in its cuisine that is a unique blend of sophisticated French styles with Arab spice. The city’s architecture combines a modern, European-style city of tree-lined avenues with a vibrant, atmospheric medina. The historic Bab el Bahr arched gateway stands sentinel to the main entrance of the medina or the old city. Formerly known as the Porte de Franceis, it is one of its many must see places in the city of Tunis.
Walking the bustling main thoroughfare and alleyways of the Medina or the old town is like stepping into a 12th and 16th century marketplace. With its colorful and lively flea or street markets, historic sites, and plazas, wandering the narrow, winding streets makes for great adventure into the cultural heritage of the old walled city. Here you can find exquisitely crafted jewelry and ceramics or souks of carpets and perfumes. The Souk el Attarine or the perfume maker’s market is one such place where you can find great bargains on exotic scents and essential oils.
The Zitouna Mosque or the Great Mosque is the major landmark in the city and is the largest mosque in Tunisia. It is also the only mosque in the city, which can be visited by non-Muslims, although access is restricted to a viewing enclosure overlooking a polished marble courtyard.
Another major tourist attraction is the National Bardo Museum which houses one of the world's greatest collections of Roman mosaics. The museum contains an impressive collection of archaeological artifacts from different eras in Tunisia’s rich history. If you are looking for something unique or bizarre, visit the Catacombs under the San Souis Church near Carthage. The cathedral boasts 240 well preserved funerary galleries that make for an interesting and historically enriching visit.
Perhaps the greatest attraction the city can offer is not within the city walls itself. Sixteen kilometers north of the city gates lie the ruins of Carthage. Carthage was a great trading empire covering much of the Mediterranean in the 9th century B.C. It was home to a brilliant civilization that challenged the majesty of Rome and Greece. Carthage was destroyed in 146 B.C. and a second Roman Carthage was then built on the ruins of the first.
To visit Tunis is to revisit history. One can not only see, but actually feel the many cultural and artistic influences from different periods of history. A visit to this wonderful place where old and new coexist in perfect harmony, is a life enriching experience.
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Toronto, ON (YYZ) → Tunis, TN (TUN)
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