Museum and city of Guellala (Djerba Island, Tunisia)
Residents of the island of Djerba appreciate their identity and heritage. Not surprisingly, there are three museums here, dedicated to the history of the island and the people's traditions. Recently, we talked in detail about the archaeological museum of Lella Hadriya and Menzel Djerba Heritage , and now we will talk about the ethnographic museum in the city of Guellala.
A little bit about the city of Guellala
Guellala is a small city with a population of only 10,000 people. It is located on the southern coast of the island of Djerba, 20 kilometers from the island's capital city of Houmt Souk and 25 kilometers from Djerba-Zarzis International Airport.
Despite its modest size, the city is famous throughout the country. Since ancient times, the history of Tunisia, he was famous for his potters. Even the very name "Guellala" is translated from the Berber language as "potters".
During the reign of Rome, the city was called "haribus", which is the Romanized Punic (Carthaginian) word "sherry" and is translated as a "clay vessel". Already from these translations of the name, we can conclude that Guellala was an important center of pottery art even during the reign of Carthage in North Africa (6-3 century BC).
This economic specialization of the city of Guellala is not accidental, near the city there are deposits of high quality clay, discovered by Berbers 3,000 years ago.
"Business card" of the city of Guellala are huge vessels for storing oil, you will see them everywhere: in the museum, in pottery workshops and souvenir shops. Such an amphora could be so large that it can hold up to 300 liters of olive oil. An example of such an amphora is shown in the photo above.
Nowadays, pottery in Guellala has survived, although it is on the decline, even despite the demand for Tunisian pottery from tourists. Back in the 1950s, more than 400 masters worked here, now there are about 50 masters. The market is saturated with cheap ceramics from China , hence the decline in production. Guellala is considered one of the two largest pottery centers in Tunisia, the second is the city of Nabeul in the northern part of the country.
Not surprisingly, this is the place chosen for the largest museum on the island, showing visitors the traditions and culture of the inhabitants of the island of Djerba.
About the Guellal Museum
For the museum have chosen a hill height of 54 meters - this is the highest point of the island of Djerba. The main building of the museum was completed in 2001. For its construction, a white stone was used, which was brought here from the mainland.
The building of the museum according to the configuration repeats the classic Djerbian house-houch. A square shape with a large garden in the center is chosen. It is in houses with such a structure on Djerba that they have been living for many centuries. All the halls are located along the perimeter, the visitors pass them clockwise.
In the halls of the figure of people in a natural size show scenes from the life of dzherbiytsy, you can see traditional ceramics and other household items, clothes. In detail about the most interesting moments we will tell in the second part of the article, in fact before to look, it is necessary here somehow to reach.
Where to find and how to get there
The vast majority of tourists come here as part of an organized group. On the island, the "City tour of the island of Djerba" is popular, during which tourists are shown the Roman road, the Pottery workshop in Guellala , the El Griba synagogue and the Guellala museum, and ends this trip by visiting the tourist market in Houmt Souk.
However, you can get there by taxi. Tunisian taxi is inexpensive, a trip from any hotel in the resort zone (highlighted in green on the map to the right) will cost no more than 25 Tunisian dinars . Travel time - no more than 30 minutes. Sit in any taxi, payment is made on the counter, say the word "Guellala", the driver will immediately understand the purpose of the trip.
Prices for tickets and excursions
Participation in the excursion of an adult tourist costs from 20 to 35 dollars. It all depends on the level of greed of the tour vendor. For a child - from 10 to 18 dollars.
The entrance to the museum is free, at least so it was in 2016, when the chief editor of the site chinainfoguide.info was here. Permission for photography is the only thing you will have to pay for, it costs 2 dinars, a small ticket is issued for memory (see photo ). This permit is not included in the price of the tour.
In the winter: from 8:00 to 18:00.
In the summer: from 8:00 to 20:00.
If you are driving alone, we recommend the afternoon. From 9:00 to 12:00, large tourist groups come here, some stands do not get through. After dinner, you will walk around the museum almost all alone.
How much time to plan
The museum has many halls and an interesting souvenir shop. Near the entrance there is a cafe where you can sit over a cup of coffee. If you want to see all the stands at a normal pace, then plan one hour. If you want to walk leisurely, spend time in the garden and sit in a cafe, then count for two hours.
The most interesting scenes and exhibits
A big plus of this museum is the presence of explanatory inscriptions in English. If you do not speak English, use mobile phone applications to read and translate the inscriptions, they are now available in large quantities in the Apple Store and Google Play. With an explanation to watch the museum becomes much more interesting.
At an organized excursion, everything is somewhat simpler, the Russian-speaking guide will tell everything and answer the questions.
Almost half of the stands are devoted to the wedding scenes and preparations for it. The wedding on the island of Djerba has always been an important public event. No one was invited to it, as all residents of the village, town or district of the city were automatically invited.
Celebrated, as they say, "the whole village." Money for the wedding was collected by the whole family, each relative helped with the amount that he could.
In the photo to the left just the bridegroom, bride, groom's mother and bride's sister directly at the moment of marriage. Click on the photo to enlarge. Notice that the groom's face does not glow with joy.
The wedding was an important public event. The life of the islanders did not imply daily communication with people outside their families. The wedding was an occasion to get acquainted with a potential bride or groom, learn the latest news or just chat with new people.
The bride was locked in the room for several weeks before the wedding, her skin became whiter, so it was considered beautiful. Her hair was cooked and clothes were picked. All these procedures are shown on several stands in the museum. See the mini gallery below.
Traditional wedding dress was very expensive pleasure, it was passed on from generation to generation. Even now, the dress costs an average of 10,000 dinars. The Guellala Museum boasts a collection of wedding dresses from different regions of Tunisia. See them in the small gallery below.
Tourists are shown a traditional door with several door knockers. This is very interesting, because there were three on the usual door of the hammers.
Right upper for men, left upper for women and bottom for children. When the guest approached the door, he knocked with the appropriate hammer, the sound of each hammer gave different. The hosts understood who came to them - a man, a woman, a child. Very convenient system.
In these hammers you can knock, at least guides on the excursion do it without hindrance and with pleasure.
Several stands are dedicated to the Jewish community of the island of Djerba. The Djerbians are proud of their tolerance, Muslims and Jews have always lived side by side here. Arabs, Berbers and Jews peacefully coexist here for more than one hundred years. See several photos below.
At the stands in the Guellala Museum you will see medieval fortune-tellers, healers, artisans, officials, revolutionaries and many other characters. See the mini photo gallery below.
Outside the main building, you can see how the dzherbiytsy crushed oil, produced cloth and clothing. There is even a live camel with which tourists are happily photographed.
At the end of the exposition, you can go to the gift shop. In addition to the usual range of souvenirs, large mosaic paintings are sold here - very beautiful, but expensive.
Tips for tourists when visiting the Guellala Museum
- There are a lot of greenery and beautiful flowers on the territory, do not miss the opportunity to make memorable photos.
- The toilet is at the end of the exposition, look for the inscription "WC". In the morning, during the arrival of numerous sightseeing groups, a huge queue is built in the toilet.
- In the cafe near the entrance prices are twice as expensive as in institutions in the city. Soda Bank - 2 dinars. We recommend taking water and snacks with you.
- Climb to the stands and photographed with figures is prohibited, although many tourists do it. If you decide, then be careful - do not break anything.
- At the organized tour guides do not show half of the museum, they have limited time. Do you want to see the whole museum? Then come alone.
- Look around. Near the stands there is also something to see - paintings, ceramic vases, chests and other artifacts.
Have a good walk around the Guellala Museum, and read our other interesting articles about Tunisia ( links below ).
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