Medina and Kasbah of Hammamet
Medina is the center of the Arab city within the city walls. Almost every Tunisian big city has its own medina, and Hammamet is no exception.
Medina Hammamet can not be called a "grandiose landmark," but this is an opportunity to see the ancient Arab fortress and mosque, admire the beautiful surf and traditional Tunisian architecture, buy some trinkets for memory. And the main advantage - all this can be seen for free, except for the fortress, the entrance to which costs only 7 dinars.
We want to emphasize that there are two medines in Hammamet. The first is the ancient real medina, which will be discussed in this article. The second is the New Medina Yasmine Hammamet , which is a modern reconstruction with shops and amusement parks. Do not confuse these two objects.
What to watch and why go
Medina - surrounded by massive walls of the city quarter will give an idea of the Arab cities in North Africa. Here, little has changed over the past 500 years, the same traditional houses with white walls, blue wooden doors with door knockers, narrow streets. Read more in detail in this article.
Kasbah Fort in the western corner of the medina is now a museum in the open. Here you can walk along the walls, enjoy the view of Hammamet, see the bastions and cannons that once protected the bay. The details are below in one of the sections of this article.
In the medina of Hammamet there are two mosques, which are rare in other Tunisian cities. In addition, there are several "business cards" of Hammamet and a large market. About everything in order.
How to get there
The way to the medina in all cases is easier to do by taxi - quickly and conveniently, and a taxi in Tunisia is cheap. From hotels in the resort of Hammamet, the trip will cost around 8 Tunisian dinars , it takes up to 10 minutes.
From the hotels of the resort Yasmine Hammamet trip will cost up to 10 dinars, travel time - up to 15 minutes.
From the hotels of the resort of Nabeul can be reached for 15-20 dinars for 20-30 minutes. On the map on the left, see the relative position of these three resorts and medina.
At the moment (note: the article was published in 2016), organized excursions to the medina of Hammamet do not suit. If necessary, you can hire a private guide, for 20-30 dinars, he will show all the fun.
The access to the medina is free, as it is a residential quarter of the city. The mosques can be viewed for free, but only outside, non-Muslims are not allowed inside.
Visiting kasba (fortress) costs 7 dinars. Children under 6 years old are free of charge. If you have an international student ID card, you do not need to pay either.
Separately, you need to buy permission to shoot photos and videos, which costs another 1 dinar. In the photo on the right you see tickets to the kazbu and permission to the photo.
Buy a permit for a photo you need only for semi-professional and professional equipment. Photographing on the phone or "soap box" is possible without permission, at least, no one claims.
In the medina there is a private museum, the entrance to it is 2 dinars.
Medina is open around the clock. Kasba works from April 1 to September 15 - from 8:00 to 19:00; from September 16 to March 31 - from 8:30 to 18:00. July and August - from 8:00 to 20:00.
How much time to plan
To see all the objects without haste, two hours are enough, one hour is enough for a quick inspection. If you want to sit in a cafe or bargain with local traders, you can spend more time here.
Around the medina
The main attraction is the sculptural composition "Mermaids with jasmine flowers", which is located on the embankment. Mermaids symbolize the sea, jasmine - the national flower of Tunisia, and the ceramic pots near the pedestal symbolize the pottery art of Tunisians. All the main symbols of the country are collected.
This is the "calling card" of the city of Hammamet. Most tourists consider it a duty to be photographed with these sculptures, see them in the photo on the left.
In 2016 they looked so that they caused strong urges to go to the nearest hardware store, buy blue paint and a brush and paint them. We hope that they will be painted for your visit to Hammamet.
If you go from the sea, then go out into a small square with a miniature of the Eiffel Tower. To be honest, it does not look like the original. Then you will see the monument "Martyrs in the struggle for the independence of Tunisia".
Near the composition with the mermaids is a large cafe, called Sidi Bakhdid, which is considered legendary, it is written about all the guides. In fact, in this cafe there is nothing special, except for high prices and a weak assortment.
The first thing to look at is the walls of the medina. About the city at this place is mentioned in the sources of the 10th century, but then the walls were more modest and the space inside the walls is much smaller. In the 15th century these walls were built, see the small gallery below.
To sea water did not wash away the walls during the storms, from the south of the medina, they built breakwaters. The spectacle rolling on wavebreaker waves fascinates. See the mini photo gallery below.
Near the sculptures of mermaids you will see the main entrance, it is called "Bab Bhar". Look to the north, from here begin two main streets of the city, the so-called "Hammamet Axis". A little to the left of Avenue Habib Bourguiba, to the right Avenue of the Republic. If you want to walk around the city, it is better to walk along one of these streets, along them many shops and cafes. A little further down the street you will see Generale Magazin - the only chain of stores selling alcohol in Tunisia .
It is small - 200 to 150 meters. Hammamet has never been a major port or an important center of crafts or agriculture, the medina here is modest in size. The city became famous only in the 20th century as a resort.
German avant-garde artist Paul Klee wrote here in 1918 his famous work "Hammamet with his mosque." Paul liked to come to Hammamet and was a frequent visitor to Villa Sebastian . Look at the picture on the right and try to find out the medina of Hammamet.
The walls were tested more than once, the city was constantly suffering from raids by pirates and fleets of European powers.
In 1601 the Spaniards successfully sacked Hammamet, taking more than 700 people into slavery. In 1605 their next attempt ended in a fiasco. This time the Spaniards climbed to the walls and even opened the gate, but suddenly the horn sounded to the retreat. Chaotic retreating Spaniards lost a lot of people. These stories about the wars in Tunisia we learn not from Arabic sources, but from the memoirs of the Spanish sailor Alonso de Contreras.
The streets inside the medina are organized chaotically, there is a whole labyrinth of passages, where one can easily get lost. On the square next to the miniature of the Eiffel Tower, find an information stand on which there is a map of Medina.
It is highly recommended to take a picture of the map on the phone and orient yourself in this way, see the map in the photo on the left. Do not rely on navigators or google maps, on the medina streets of Hammamet these methods will not help.
Despite the narrowness of the streets, Tunisians are chasing the medina on scooters. We encourage tourists to be cautious, look around.
In the medina, look at houses, white walls and blue doors - elements of the traditional style of houses in Tunisia. Blue windows like Sidi-bu-Said , gratings of beautiful embossing, ornaments on walls and doors.
On the door, electric calls are still not used, and preference is given to door knockers. Note that there are two or three hammers on each door, this is not an accident. In the right men knock on the left woman, and the bottom (if it is) is designed for children. The sound of each hammer is different and the owner knows who came to him - a man, a woman or a child.
See the photo gallery of the medina of Hammamet below:
In the medina dozens of souvenir shops, but buying something here is not recommended. Traders use a common set of methods for "fooling" tourists, which we wrote in detail in the article " How to buy in Tunisia, " here are the fake cooks from your hotel, and the phrase "how much does it cost in Russia?" Or "as it is called in Russian ? ", And the initial overstatement of the price several times. There are several Fix Price stores, but the prices are more expensive than the average for Hammamet.
The assortment is standard - magnets, plates, leather and olive wood products, cheap costume jewelry, butter, dates and clothes, simulating the traditional. Almost the whole assortment of "made in China", you will not find something exclusive in the shops of medina.
The word "kasba" is translated as "fortress", "fort" or "citadel". The fortress was built here in the 10th century, rebuilt many times, the last time in the 19th century, walls and bastions were expanded to install new artillery guns.
To get into the kazbu, enter the main gate of the medina and turn right to the stairs, at the top there will be an entrance to the kazbu.
In the courtyard you will see a small mausoleum, Sidi Bou Ali Mohammed is resting here, who dedicated his life to religious devotion and prayers, he participated in the Holy War in the 15th century. Another hero, whose grave is in kazba - Day Ali Laz, executed in 1673, a participant in the uprising against the power of the Turks. This mausoleum was formerly used by the Turks as a prayer hall.
The garrison of the fortress was small. During the Turkish rule - 60 janissaries, the French held here up to 100 soldiers from the Foreign Legion.
In the courtyard you can see guns that used to stand on walls and bastions, ceramics and other archeological artifacts. In the courtyard there is a toilet, the cleanest of all public toilets that we saw in Tunisia. See the photo gallery below.
From the yard you can go to the rooms, where the stands tell about the history of Hammamet, the medina and the fort. Unfortunately, the inscriptions are made only in Arabic and French. Even with the knowledge of English you can only watch pictures. Several of these stands are shown in the photo below.
In kasb there is a souvenir shop, here you can find items of really handmade work.
After examining the yard, you can climb the walls. Attention! In many places on the walls there are no fences , and on the stairs there are none at all. Be very careful not to fall, and the more closely you look after the children.
From the walls and from the bastions you can see the city. There is no point in commenting on something, see the photo below.
You can also look at the roofs of houses in the medina. It is very interesting that Tunisians use the roofs as a place of storage of unnecessary trash, which is a pity to throw. Russians use balconies and dachas for this purpose, Tunisians dump it all on the roofs. See the photo below.
The massive massive walls are from 4 to 6 meters in thickness and 12.5 meters in height. This size will envy even the Great Wall of China .
There are two mosques on the territory of the medina. The first - the Great Mosque existed since the 10th century, in the 15th century it was rebuilt, in 1972 there was the last major repair. Its square minaret is one of the symbols of Hammamet.
The second "Sidi Abdel Qader Mosque" was built in 1798, now it functions as a madrasah (an educational religious institution in Islam). Entrance is allowed only to Muslims.
Successful trips to the sights of Hammamet, and read other interesting pages about Tunisia on our website ( links below ).
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