The city of Monastir is the birthplace of the first president of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, who ruled the country for 30 years. In the city, almost all the objects are named after him: the airport, the station, the mosque, the mausoleum. There was not only a large full-fledged museum, in 2013 it opened.
The museum was organized on the basis of the summer residence of Habib Bourguiba. In fact, it was his dacha with a garden, a swimming pool, a huge terrace on the fourth floor and a setting from the best French designers of the 60s and 70s. All this can now be viewed by visitors, but everything in order.
Where to find and how to get there
The former summer residence of Habib Bourguiba (now a museum) is located in the Skanes area in the western part of the city of Monastir. The museum is located in the eastern part of the Skanes area in an elite village, something that resembles our Rublevka. This elite area is fenced with a large fence, guards are on duty at the entrance. But they let everyone in, not even the documents ask.
The area of Skanes is big - about 12 kilometers in length. Resort hotels are also located in Skanes, but do not expect to walk from the hotel to the museum on foot. From the nearest hotel to the museum is 2.5 kilometers.
Holidaymakers in Monastir tourists better to go by taxi, the trip will cost from 3 to 10 dinars, depending on the distance. About the prices read in our article " Taxis in Tunisia - how to use and prices ." The current rate of the Tunisian currency can be found in our article " Tunisian Dinar ".
Holidaymakers in Sousse , El Kantaoui and Mahdia are convenient to come to Monastir by train. From the station, take a taxi for 5 dinars. On the train read our article " Subway Sahel ".
Holidaymakers on the island of Djerba and in Zarzis should forget about the trip to the museum of Habib Bourguiba. You can come by yourself, but only theoretically, the trip will take the whole day, you have to go on three trains.
Those in Hammamet and Yasmine Hammamet have a difficult situation. An independent trip is long and tiring - on two trains, to get about 3 hours. The only option is an organized tour.
At the time of publication of this article (2017), no excursion program in Russian does not include a visit to the museum-residence of Habib Bourguiba. We hope that this will change.
It's important how to get out!
Tourists come to the museum by taxi, they look at the exposition. Then they leave the museum, and! There are no taxis or other cars, how to go back, it is not clear. What to do? Where to go?
There are three options. The first is to turn left and walk along the street about 500 meters. There will be a way out of the elite district ( click to view the photo ), after it another 200 meters the road, on which it is already easy to catch a taxi. At the same time, look at the houses of officials and wealthy businessmen. The houses are very modest, it is not accepted to build large palaces here. See the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge.
The second option is to turn right and walk to the cafe in the next building. There, order a cup of coffee and ask the waiter to call a taxi. Usually, they do not refuse.
The third option is to reserve a local SIM-card in advance and record a taxi service number. Call and call yourself a taxi with the phrase "Skanes Habib Bourguiba musi". You should ask the current taxi service phone number at the hotel reception desk. Read our article " Local SIM in Tunisia ".
The entrance costs 9 Tunisian dinars. Permission for photography is 1 dinar. Tickets and permission see the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge.
Every day from 9-00 to 17-00. See the photo .
A bit of history
Habib Bourguiba became president of the country in 1957. He gave Tunisian women the right to vote, abolished polygamy, banned marriages until the age of 17, allowed women to file for divorce and carried out dozens of reforms. He is called the "architect of modern Tunisia".
Habib Bourguiba began to organize his "modest" presidential life. He rebuilt the presidential palace in Carthage, and for the main place of his vacation chose his hometown of Monastir. Here in the Skanes area he built a large residence. The building was completed on August 3, 1962.
This building has many names: Skanes Palace, Marble Palace, Beit Bourguiba.
The architect of the building was Olivier Clement Kakub, who later built the mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba, the Africa Hotel on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the capital, the Palace of the Festival in Cannes, the building of the University of Orléans and the building of Le Ponant de Paris in France.
After Habib Bourguiba left office in 1987, the building was almost never used and was not repaired.
After the revolution in 2011, the new authorities carried out a large-scale reconstruction of the building, brought Habib Bourguiba's personal belongings from the palace in Carthage and arranged a museum.
The project cost Tunisia significant (by Tunisian standards) amount - 3.2 million dollars. It is a pity that they did not allocate funds for the reconstruction of the fountain in front of the museum, it still looks awful. In the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge.
The total area of the museum is 500 square meters on four floors of the summer palace building.
The grand opening was held on April 6, 2013 - the 13th anniversary of the death of Habib Bourguiba. At the opening was a real sold-out, lined up huge lines.
On the occasion of the opening on April 10, 2013, even great news came from the Reuters news agency, full of admiration for the event and with a few brief interviews with officials and first visitors.
We want to cite an excerpt from this interview. Says Hisah Mimash, an official of the Ministry of Justice: "The museum gives people a chance to look at Habib Bourguiba's personal life. We did not have a chance to see him personally and see how he lived. We came to look at his personal life. "
The words of this official show us the attitude of many Tunisians towards Habib Bourguiba. They perceive him as a celestial, dream of touching his personal life. For them, all of his furniture and portraits in the museum have a sacred value. Russian tourists of such great value in his furniture and personal belongings do not see. But, the museum is still interesting.
There is an opinion of some political scientists that the whole project was a political action. The new authorities thus wanted to publicly show continuity from Habib Bourguiba. They wanted to say: "These are the direct receivers of Habib Bourguiba, and former President Ben Ali is a dead end of Tunisia's development, and we overthrew him correctly." It is difficult to comment on such views, politics is a delicate matter.
What to watch
The museum contains 1340 pieces of furniture, photographs and sound recordings, statues, paintings and tapestries, gifts that once belonged to Habib Bourguiba.
Immediately at the entrance visitors see the chic Mercedes limousine, in which Habib Bourguiba moved around the country. This Grosser Mercedes 600, such cars were produced from 1963 to 1981. Specifically, this model is called "long 4-door landaulet", all of them were released in the world of 59 copies.
However, among the world leaders of that time such a car was not considered as a chic. Similar Mercedes cars were from Leonid Brezhnev, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and many others.
Photos on the background of this limousine do necessarily!
Elephants tusks and other gifts
In the first room you can see the beautiful marble bust of Habib and the picture, where he is shown as a schoolboy. Recall that Habib Bourguiba was a very educated man, he studied at the University in Paris. Click to view the photo of this picture .
Here you can see gifts, which the leaders of different countries made Habib Bourguibe.
Tourists are most attracted by two huge tusks, which Habib Bourguibe was brought from Côte d'Ivoire. In the photo on the right and left, click on the photo to enlarge.
In the same room a collection of photos is exhibited. On some photos you can see Habib Bourguibou with leaders of different countries (see photo1 and photo2 ). Some are well recognizable if you know the history. This is a photo of Saddam Hussein , this is a photo of Gamal Abdel Nasser .
Interiors of the palaces in Skanes and Carthage were engaged in Kamsim Old, Andre Leleu and Rafael - all in the lists of the best interior designers of the 20th century. Their furniture can now seem archaic, but the style and color solutions even nowadays cause only positive emotions.
The museum displays the furnishings of the main rooms of the Carthaginian palace, the private rooms of Habib, his wife Vasilla Bin Ammar and the adoptive daughter of Harger.
There is no sense in telling about furniture, it is necessary to see it. See the small photo gallery below. Click on the photo to enlarge.
Yard, garden, pool and roof
In the courtyard of the residence was broken garden, built a large swimming pool. The yard is not allowed visitors, look at the windows. The pool does not make a strong impression on the modern tourist, in most hotels the pools are much larger. But in the 60's such a pool was considered very large.
Before, you could sunbathe on the roof-terrace and hold meetings outdoors. Part of it was covered by a roof in case of rain, part of it completely open. On this roof, visitors are also not allowed, look at the windows.
We wish you an interesting walk through the Habib Bourguiba museum, and read our interesting articles about Tunisia ( links below ).