The Great Mosque of Sousse
The Great Sousse Mosque is one of several mosques in Tunisia that non-Muslim tourists can see. Non-Muslims are allowed only into the courtyard, but the prayer hall is perfectly visible through the windows. Tourists rarely find out in this building a mosque, and more often they think that it is a fortress. This is not surprising, because from the very beginning she performed not only religious, but also defense functions.
How to get there
A large mosque is located 70 meters from the ribat , and it is better to focus on the ribat, its tall tower can be seen from afar ( see photo ).
Map of Souss Medina with the designation of the Great Mosque, other sights and a tourist route, see our article " Medina Sussa ".
If you have a rest in the hotels of Sousse or El Kantaoui , it is most convenient to get there by taxi, tell the taxi driver the phrase "rebate", he will understand the destination. From Suss hotels a trip will cost 2-5 dinars, from hotels in El Kantaoui it will cost 6-12 dinars. For the current course see our article " Tunisian Dinar ", for prices, see our article " Taxi in Tunisia ".
We do not advise the driver to say "medina". Medina Sussa is big, the driver will bring it to where it will be convenient, and not where you need it. Always express yourself specifically "rebate" or "archeologic muses."
From the hotels of the resorts of Skanes (Monastir) and Mahdia it is convenient to come by train, read about this our article " Subway Sahel ". In Sousse arrive at the station Bab Jdid, from where you go straight to the wall of the medina, turn right and walk along the wall to the entrance to the medina. Entering the medina, you will see the tower of the ribat and easily find the Great Mosque.
From the hotels in the resorts of Hammamet , Yasmine Hammamet or Nabeul to Sousse, you can take a train or bus, read our articles " Trains in Tunisia " and " Buses in Tunisia ". In our opinion, it is easier to buy a sightseeing tour of Sousse, which will show both the mosque and the rib, and the Sousse Archaeological Museum .
From the hotels of Zarzis and Djerba , or from Gammarth and other capital resorts in Tunisia, we absolutely do not advise you to go - it's long, tedious, expensive
The ticket costs 5 Tunisian dinars. Children are free.
All days except Friday: from 8-00 to 12-00 and from 13-30 to 15-00.
On Friday: from 8-00 to 11-30.
The mosque is not allowed in any clothing, although often the caretaker does not pay attention to it. Shoulders and knees should be closed. The women are given a handkerchief at the entrance, but they can not cover their knees. See the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge.
Conclusions: if gathered in a mosque, men are required trousers, women trousers or a long skirt that closes the knees. Our recommendations for a set of clothes for travel read in the article " What to take in Tunisia ."
A bit of history
The Great Mosque was built in 851 in the reign of the Aghlabid dynasty. A year we know for sure, on one of the parapets the inscription with a Kufic letter was preserved.
The text of this inscription consists almost entirely of the verses of the Koran, only in one place in the text is mentioned the emir who ordered the construction. It was Abu Al-Abbas Mohammed ibn-Al-Aglab - the 6th emir of the Aglabid dynasty, ruled in 841-856. The year 237 of the AH is mentioned, that is, 851 according to the Gregorian calendar.
It is believed that the Great Mosque became the third large building of Sousse after the rebate (built 30 years before the mosque) and prayer Abuftat (built 10 years before the mosque).
From the very beginning, the Great Mosque served as a fortress. It is noticeable, two towers on the east side, battlements with loopholes on the walls, strict forms of the building and almost complete lack of decor.
The position right in front of the medina and next to the ribat indicates a desire to strengthen the defense of the coastal strip. Probably, the defenders feared a direct attack of the ribat.
The Great Sousse Mosque has no minaret and never was. Believing in prayer, the muezzin called from the high tower of the ribat, so it was more convenient. Now the ribat has become a museum, and to call the faithful use one of the towers, you can see a megaphone on it.
As in other Afrikan mosques, there is a large courtyard and a prayer hall. The hall is divided into three parts.
During its existence, the Great Mosque did not change, but only expanded to the south in 883. On the roof (see the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge) you can see two domes at once. Southern (distant) over the current mihrab, and the northern (near) above the place of mihrab until 883.
This is the great historical value of the Great Sousse Mosque, here everything is very ancient, dates back to the 9th century. Some elements of the decor clearly refer to a slightly later era - the Fatimids or Zirides (10-11th centuries).
Small changes occurred in the Ottoman era in 1675, they began opening windows to the prayer room, and along these windows a covered corridor appeared.
What to watch
It is more interesting to watch the Great Sousa Mosque, if you know its history, and understand that all this was built 11 centuries ago. And the walls, arches, towers remained here in their original form, this place breathes the history of Tunisia .
To assess the mosque as a protective structure can not really do it, the passage to the walls and towers is closed by a grate. In the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge.
The mosque consists of a large courtyard and a prayer hall. In the courtyard they pray the same way as in the hall, but only if all the seats in the hall are occupied. Now this happens rarely. In the prayer hall non-Muslims are not allowed to enter, but you can see it through the windows.
To be honest, there is nothing extraordinary inside. You will see the mihrab, a special niche in the wall of Kibla where the Imam prays. In the hall there are several stands for reading the Koran.
Note that the believers take off their shoes before entering the prayer hall. The floor of the hall is traditionally carpeted.
Pay attention to the columns and arches. In the row along the wall of the prayer hall, the columns are thin and graceful, this is the architecture of the 17th century. In the remaining rows they are more coarse, square in cross section, this is the work of the 9th century.
See the small photo gallery below.
The inspection will take no more than 15 minutes. We recommend that you first see the mosque, and then the rebound. From the top of the tower of the ribat can look at the Great Sousa Mosque from a different angle.
Successful excursions in Sousse, and read our interesting articles about Tunisia ( links below ).
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