Excavations of the city of Udna in Tunisia
Udna is one of the most interesting places of excavation of ancient Roman cities in Tunisia. Here are preserved: a large oval amphitheater, the Capitol building, the first floor of Roman baths with toilets and remnants of the steam heating system and several interesting villas. Once it was a large city, the population is estimated at 50 to 100 thousand people.
Udnu is called the "city of mosaics", hence the archaeologists have extracted dozens of magnificent mosaics of the Roman period, the originals are now exhibited in the Bardo Museum , and copies can be seen in Udne.
Udna or Dugga?
In Tunisia, there are two very similar archaeological sites - Udna and Dugga (we do not take into account Carthage now , it is beyond competition). For the average tourist there is no sense to go to both these places. If there is a desire to see the excavations of an ancient Roman city, is the problem of choice - Dugg or Udna?
In Udn there is a large oval amphitheater, in Dugge the amphitheater is semicircular and small. But in Dougga there is a whole Punic building. Udna is closer to the resorts, it's only 60 kilometers from Hammamet , and 120 kilometers to Duggie.
Our opinion: choose Udnu, and it takes less time to go on the excursion bus, and you will see more interesting. Of course, this advice is relevant, if there is an opportunity to buy an excursion to Udnu, and this is not a chance for all Russian tourists in Tunisia.
Excursions to Udnu
At the time of writing this article, a tour of Udnu is only carried out by the Pegas Touristik tour operator for its tourists. The rest will either have to abandon the idea, or to get there by themselves.
How to get there by yourself
It's difficult, but possible. Near the excavation site is the station "Oudna" railway. This station is located on the Tunis-Kef branch, it is a secondary branch that extends deep into the country. That is, the train must first get to the city of Tunisia, and then have an hour by train to Udna. We warn you that this is long and tedious. About how this can be done, read on our page " How to use trains in Tunisia ". The station will still have to walk 3 kilometers to the excavation site.
The second option is to take a taxi. Prices for Tunisian taxi drivers are low, but the distance is great. From Yasmine Hammamet , Hammamet or Nabeul go 60-70 kilometers, the trip will cost 40-50 Tunisian dinars . From Suss or El Kantaoui to go 120-130 kilometers, will cost 80-90 dinars. This is only one way, that is, multiply these figures in half, and still need to add the price of waiting for the taxi driver. The figure will be disappointing.
Prices of tickets and excursions
The ticket costs 7 dinars, another 1 dinar must be paid for permission to take photos. Tourists in the tour groups do not need to buy a ticket.
A bit of history
The city originated in the place of the Berber village of Adis, here the Romans built a colony where veterans of the legions of Emperor Augustus settled. The city was called then "Ufina", this modern settlement on this place is called Udna.
Such colonies arose in North Africa everywhere. The fact is that under Roman law, a legionnaire was laid a piece of land after retiring. The earth was issued from the public fund "ager poplicus", but in Italy this fund was completely exhausted for a long time. The Romans had to settle their veterans in North Africa, building colonies for them.
Historian Pliny the Elder writes that Ufina was one of the first such colonies in the territory of modern Tunisia. The city grew and flourished, aqueducts, thermae, Capitol, amphitheater were built. Archaeologists have compiled an approximate map of the city, you can see it in the museum in the Capitol, see the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge.
In 238 during civil wars, the city of Ufina supported the pretender to the throne of Gordian, for which he was destroyed by another contender Maximin Traks.
After the city was not restored, archaeological finds tell us that there was only a small settlement here. The Byzantines organized a fortress in the Capitol building, defending it from the Arabs.
Excavations in place of Ufiny began to lead the French in the late 19 th century, when Tunisia became a colony of France. Archaeologists found many large mosaics, they were taken to the Bardo Museum, and the excavations were suspended. Re-archaeological research on this site was opened only in 1993. It turned out that Udna contains many more valuable artifacts. In 1999, the site of the excavation was opened to tourists.
What to watch
Excavations are ongoing now. If you see archeologists running around here or working with shovels, then do not be surprised.
Often one of the archaeologists approaches a tourist group and begins to tell interesting things to tourists. Or rather, he tells the guide in Arabic, and the guide translates. At the end of the lecture, the guide subtly hints that it would not be superfluous to thank the representative of science with a tip. We can not guarantee that these archaeologists are real, but we hope that this is so.
Excavations are conducted jointly by the National Institute of the Heritage of Tunisia and the University of Cagliari (Italy). Excavations of Udna are considered to be the most "advanced" in the country, a 3D map of the object is being built here, and all data is recorded in a special database.
The first thing tourists see is the amphitheater.
It is a classical Roman amphitheater of oval form. The length is 110 meters, the width is 90 meters. The arena measures 58 by 35 meters. It was the third largest amphitheater after El Jem and Carthage. Some tourists call it the word "Colosseum". This is not correct, because the Colosseum is only one and is located in Rome. All other similar structures are correctly called the word "amphitheater".
Now the amphitheater looks good, but in fact it has remained very bad. Its present appearance is the result of the work of restorers. Here, a restoration technique called "anastil" was used, when the object is reconstructed from fragments found nearby and considered part of the object.
The capacity of the amphitheater is 15-16 000 people. By the way, from this figure, scientists calculated the estimated size of the city of Ufin from 50 to 100 000 people.
It is interesting to look at the restored stands. Please note that the first three rows are separated by a path from the others, clearly seen in this photo . The first rows were intended for noble and wealthy residents of the city, and they were separated from the poor.
You can walk around the arena and look into the basement rooms, where once kept animals for harassment and prisoners before execution in the arena. The Romans were practical people, they did not use executioners. The condemned were released into the arena with gladiators. It turned out that the penalty is free, gladiators can be trained without much risk, and the crowd is delighted.
In this arena, several films were shot, including the documentary "Colosseum" by the famous German documentary filmmaker Tillman Remmy.
Baths (thermae) are not always shown to tourists. At this place during the Second World War staged warehouses of weapons and ammunition. An aerial bomb has fallen into the place of the baths, and now there are no guarantees that there are no unexploded ordnance left.
Baths of Udna are known under the name "bat terms", once in the basements were inhabited by bats. Baths were built during the reign of Emperor Trajan, they occupied an area of 6 500 square meters. The lower floor contained utility rooms and tanks with water. Here the water was warmed, steam through the pipes came up to the visitors.
The upper visitor rooms were "hot" (meaning steam rooms) or "cold" (swimming pools, locker rooms). A large room for cooling after being in the therms was called "frigidarium."
The baths served not only for washing, but also to meet other needs, as this pointer speaks clearly and clearly.
From the baths little is left, especially after the bombing in 1942.
House of Láberia
The biggest and chic villa in the city. About 30 rooms with a total area of 2,300 sq.m. Inhabitants of Russian "odnushek" area of 28-35 meters do not go to avoid acute attacks of envy.
Almost all floors of the villa were lined with mosaics. The most interesting mosaics have long been taken to the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Before the opening of Udna for tourists, copies were placed here.
The Capitol was the center of the Roman city. Here were the main temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. In the basement stores store provisions and valuables. The Capitol is in the highest point of the city.
The Udna Capitol measures 43 by 27 meters. It is well preserved. In the upper part, where the temples were, the whole one of the columns remained (in the photo on the right), which allows us to guess about the size of the building in the Roman era.
In the Byzantine era of the history of Tunisia, the building was turned into a fortress.
At the time of the French protectorate, one French colonist built his house right on the temple site, where the columns are now, here is a photo of this house . When Tunisia gained independence in 1956, the house was demolished. The building of the farm of this colonist was nearby, it can now be seen.
Nearby is the forum - the main square of the city. It is rather difficult to learn it.
In the rooms of the lower floors there is now a museum, where you can see some mosaics, valuable finds and the layout of the Capitol.
In the small gallery below, see the photo from the Capitol of the city of Udna.
What else interesting?
You can see the huge water tanks, they kept an emergency stock here.
Hit at tourists - public toilets which in the Roman epoch were paid. You can even sit, if the guide will not mind. See this photo .
In some places you can see the pipes of steam heating, which led from boilers to the bath rooms. Baths were not only public, in rich houses there were small terms. These pipes can be seen in this photo .
Even after visiting Udna, tourists can look at the stunning construction. From the mountainous areas of the country in Carthage, the Romans conducted an aqueduct 132 kilometers long.
The water in this aqueduct was being driven back, without the aid of any devices. As the Romans managed to design and build such a structure, it's hard to imagine.
Most of this aqueduct now lies in ruins, but some sites look quite tolerable. See such a section in the photo on the left.
In Udnee there was a small 7-kilometer aqueduct that brought water to the city from the nearest sources, some of its parts have survived to this day.
We wish you interesting excursions in Tunisia, and read our articles useful to travelers about this country ( list of links below ).
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