Avenue Habib Bourguiba or the Champs Elysees in Tunisia
Avenue of Habib Bourguiba is the main street of Tunis. This is the center of the "New City", built here by the French after the establishment of the French Protectorate in the country in 1881.
This street is called "Champs Elysées in Tunisia", and there really is a similarity (see the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge).
Here you can see the oldest in Tunisia Catholic cathedral and other historic buildings, visit the most expensive boutiques and shopping centers in Tunisia, go to the most chic restaurants in the country or just sit in a cafe, feeling the rhythm and lifestyle of Tunisians.
However, tourists on an organized excursion of all this, most likely, not to see and not to experience.
How is the tour going?
The sightseeing bus arrives in the area of the Square on January 14, 2011 and disembarks tourists. The group passes by the Tunisian Big Ben and goes down the avenue to Independence Square, passing almost all of Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
Guides are rarely bothered with stories about historical buildings or monuments. If the guide says something, then the tourists are incredibly lucky. Tourists are shown the Monoprix supermarket on the Revolution Square and the entrance to the medina, ending with the phrase: "In the medina souvenirs, in the supermarket, olive oil. Buy, in an hour we meet on the bus from Big Ben. "
This situation is very unfortunate, because tourists come to one of the main attractions of the capital of Tunisia, but really do not see anything, they do not go anywhere except the supermarket. And there's something to see, this street has a very rich history.
A bit of history
Its first name was given to the street immediately after the establishment of the French protectorate. Then she led from the gates of the Old Town (medina) to the port, and she was called "Promenade de la Marine", from the French "road to the port". In the summer the road was dusty, in the winter slushy.
The French conquered Tunisia quickly and without much damage to the population and economy. The badly armed and almost uneducated Tunisian army (pictured left) quickly surrendered. The French did not resist the partisans or underground, they were able to build quickly and without interference.
In 1881, the French began to build a new city - a European quarter east of the medina, which is just along the street. One of the first buildings here is the building of the current French embassy, which became the administrative center of the country.
At the site of the Catholic cemetery of St. Anthony, the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is built, the cathedral was completed in 1897. The municipal theater is being built by 1902. In 1900, the street was renamed the "Jules Ferry Avenue" in honor of Prime Minister Jules Ferry - the organizer of France's expansion into Tunisia (his photo below).
The width of the street was then 55 meters, in the center was a square planted with four rows of ficuses, along the edges two strips for the movement of horse-drawn carriages.
By 1931 the Coliseum was completed - an entertainment center with cafes, galleries and cinema. In 1932 the Claridge Hotel was completed - it was the most luxurious hotel in Tunisia at the time.
With the declaration of Tunisia's independence in 1956, the statue of Jules Ferry was dismantled, and the street was renamed Habib Bourguiba Avenue in honor of the country's first president and leader of the independence movement. Already in the period of independent Tunisia there are: Hotel Africa, Hotel Tunisia, the building of the National Investment Company. About buildings we will talk in detail in the second part of this article.
In 2001, a large-scale reconstruction of the street was carried out.
Reconstruction of the year 2001
Habib Bourguiba's avenue has always been considered the "face" of Tunisia - both cities and countries. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has always been dissatisfied with the archaic nature of the street and in 2001 began a major upgrade. He wanted the street to show Tunisia as a modern country, but preserving the legacy of previous eras.
Until 2001, the street did not change for about a century, only new buildings were built along it. Before the start of the repair work, Professor Abdesessattar Amamou (a historian of the city of Tunisia) said: "Every corner and every building of Habib Bourguiba Avenue has its own history." In Tunisia, this street is also proud of itself as a unique mixture of cultures. French Avenue begins near the medina gate in Arabic style, and the facades of most buildings are made in Italian manner.
The renovation of the street cost the budget 14 million Tunisian dinars . Completely updated all the road surface and lighting system. They installed 900 new street lamps and lamps, more than 100 new benches.
The pedestrian zone in the center was reduced to 13 meters wide, which allowed to widen the sidewalks along the edges (see the photo on the left, as the avenue looks now). Approximately 40,000 square meters of pedestrian areas were covered with granite, 28,000 square meters of pavement were reinstalled.
President Ben Ali personally followed the progress of the work. This is not surprising for Tunisia, then there was such corruption in the country that, without control, 14 million officials would be enough only for the sidewalk. However, now it's better not to.
All the owners of buildings around were obliged to repair the facades at their own expense.
The Town Hall of Tunisia began reconstruction in the neighboring streets of Avenue de Franz, Rui de Marseille and several others. The sidewalks were also covered with granite to achieve the harmony of the entire center of the city of Tunisia. On the parallel streets organized parking with a total capacity of 2,600 vehicles. Another reconstruction was carried out in the Central market of Tunisia nearby. All these events cost the government another 6.4 million dinars.
Avenue Habib Bourguiba has become one of the main attractions of Tunisia. In 2009, a record was registered - 650-700 thousand foreign tourists visited here, this is not counting the guests of four hotels on the avenue.
During the Jasmine Revolution, Habib Bourguiba Avenue became the center of the protest movement in the capital, thousands of Tunisians gathered here.
Orient on the map on the right, click on the map to enlarge.
Habib Bourguiba avenue begins from the quay near the railway station "Tunis Marine" (1). It should be until "Square January 14, 2011" (2), where the clock tower is installed - Tunisian Big Ben . Next (3) to Independence Square (4), where the Embassy of France and the Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul are located.
Then follows another street - Avenue de Franz (5), which is considered the continuation of Avenue Habib Bourguiba. The Avenue de Franz ends at the Bab Bhar (6) - the main gateway to the medina of Tunis .
Interesting facts and figures
The total length of Habib Bourguiba Avenue is 1.2 kilometers, the Avenue de Franz is another 250 meters.
Almost every city in Tunisia has its own Habib Bourguiba Avenue. The situation resembles the USSR, where in each locality there was its own street of Lenin.
There are two major cultural festivals in Tunisia - Carthage Film Days and Carthage Theater Days, which take place every two years. Other events: International Festival of Laughter, International Guitar Festival, retro car race.
Back in 2011, there were embassies of foreign countries. After the revolution, all of them moved to the suburbs of the city of Tunisia, the measures taken in the interests of security. Only one thing remains - the embassy of France.
Interesting buildings and monuments
Embassy of France
You will recognize it at once - two pillboxes, armored cars, an armored personnel carrier, three large-caliber machine guns and a platoon of soldiers guarding the building. Seeing this defensive line, even photographing the building becomes scary. For this reason, we did not take photos.
The French did not want to leave their building, because it was once the administrative center of the whole of Tunisia. In addition, it is one of the oldest buildings in the European style in the country, it was built as far back as 1861 on the initiative of the Consul Leon Roche.
Real attacks on the embassy has not happened yet.
The Embassy is on Independence Square.
Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul
It is located directly opposite the embassy. It was built between 1893 and 1897 on the site of an old 1650-built chapel. It is made in a mixed Roman-Byzantine style.
The name is not accidental, because St. Vincent, captured by pirates, was in slavery in Tunisia. In the early 17th century Tunisia was one of the centers of piracy and slave trade, the main base of pirates was the island of Djerba .
The foundation of the cathedral is complicated with the use of oak logs brought from Sweden and Norway. Such an architectural solution was chosen in connection with the clay character of the soil under the building.
The cathedral boasts the oldest organ in Tunisia, which is more than 100 years old. He still works.
The statue of Ibn Khaldun
This is a very famous Arab historian, philosopher, diplomat and politician. And although none of the tourists know him, his contribution to science is huge.
He was one of the first scientists to attach great importance to the sources of information - their quality. He not only described historical events, but also tried to understand their causes, trends. Ibn Khaldun is one of the fathers of the science of sociology. Years of life - from 1332 to 1406.
One of the few remaining in the world theaters in the Art Nouveau style (Modern). The project was developed by Jean Emil Rasplandi, the project was financed by the Italians, the building contains notes of both French and Italian design styles.
The theater opened in 1902 and immediately received the nickname "bonbonie" for the shape of the building, something reminiscent of a French jar for sweets and candies. In 1909, the building had to be reconstructed to increase the capacity from 856 to 1350 seats.
This theater was played and performed by famous artists: Jean Mare, Sarah Bernard, Gerard Philip, Salama Hegazi, Yusuf Wahbi. In 1970, on March 27, a famous Tunisian singer and composer Ali Riahi died on the stage from a heart attack.
The theater was headed by the famous Tunisian actor Ali Ben Ayed. Does this name tell you nothing? Did not you see the film "Angelica and the Sultan"? At one time, Ali Ben Ayedu "dried" half of the women in the USSR.
If the guide during the excursion and bothered to say something about a building on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, it will be the tower of the Hotel Africa. Typically, guides say: "Hotel Africa is Tunisia's tallest building."
Nothing like this! The highest building of the country is the headquarters of the political party RCD here in the city of Tunis. The RCD tower is 82.5 meters high, while the Africa Hotel is only 79 meters high.
Hotel Africa was built in 1971, architects - Olivier-Clement Kakub and Jason Kiriakopoulos. For that period of Tunisian history, this building was a breakthrough, a symbol of the future prosperity of the country. Then the building in the height of 22 floors for the Tunisians looked grand.
Now this hotel is 5 stars, it belongs to the company Meublatex - a hotel chain under the brand name El Mouradi. The price for the most basic single room in this hotel starts from 100 euros per night.
Near the City Theater is "Palmarium" ("Palmarium") - a large shopping center, where you can find shops, restaurants and several winter gardens with a total area of 500 square meters. meters.
Earlier on Habib Bourguiba Avenue there was another theater - "Theater of Italian lyrics", now it was converted into a cinema "Le Palace".
Another shopping center is called "Claridge" ("Claridge"), there are the most expensive boutiques here.
Not far from the Tunisian Big Ben is the main building of the Tunisian Ministry of Internal Affairs, you will learn it by sandbags and sticking machine guns. Better not come near without an urgent need.
Here is the building of the Ministry of Tourism. If you are not satisfied with your holiday in Tunisia, you can write a complaint here.
How to look here without haste
To quietly see all the interesting things on Habib Bourguiba Ave, you need to come here for the whole day. It is not so difficult to do this.
Holidaymakers in Gammarth and other metropolitan resorts can take a taxi or train, Tunis-Marine station of the TGM light metro line linking the city of Tunis and the suburbs of Mars and Goulette.
If you have a rest in Nabeul , Hammamet or Yasmine Hammamet , it's easier to come by bus . From Suss or El Kantaoui it is easier to get there by train . Monastir or Mahdia can also be reached by train, but with a transfer in Sousse. From the bus station or train station in the city of Tunisia, take a taxi.
Come to the city of Tunis in the morning and leave in the evening, then see Habib Bourguiba Avenue quietly and without haste. We also recommend a visit to the Bardo museum , in which tourists do not carry tourists at all.
Successful and sunny days on the Tunisian resorts, and read our interesting articles about this country on the site JJ-Tours.ru ( list of links below ).
Read about Tunisia on our website