Medina of Tunisia
In the country of Tunisia, almost every major city has its own medina, but in the city of Tunisia, the medina is not like any other, which makes it an attractive place for excursions.
Medina is an old Arab city surrounded by a fortress wall around the perimeter. There are no walls in the medina of the city of Tunisia, they were demolished as unnecessary during the last 200 years. There were only four gates left.
The main entrance is called "Bab Bhar", from the Arab "Gate to the Sea", look at the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge. In them, tourists come in from the Avenue de Franz. Another three surviving gates: Bab Jedid, Bab Saadun and Bab al-Khadra.
Now historians are still arguing: how many were all the gates to Medina? At least 10, but most researchers in the history of Tunisia call the number 14. Another 6 gates that are not preserved: Bab Aliowa, Bab Laasal, Bab El-Jazeera, Bab Mnara, Bab Sowika and Bab Lakouas.
The second distinctive feature is the round shape. Recall that the classical medina has the shape of a rectangle. The round shape was the result of repeated and unmanageable expansion of the medina during the last 800 years. To be more precise, it is approximately oval in shape 500 meters wide (from east to west) and 1000 meters long (from south to north).
The third feature is the buildings inside, which represent different epochs and styles. The first houses, of course, were in the North African Arabic style. Its architectural style was added by refugees from Andalusia (Spain), who arrived in all countries of the Maghreb. With the advent of the power of the Ottoman Empire, rich and noble Turks settled in the medina, bringing here Turkish and Persian styles.
It is this mixture of styles that makes the medina of the city of Tunis unique. In 1979, this place was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Inside, there are many interesting places - palaces, mosques, markets, but tourists will not see this on an organized excursion.
How is the tour going?
Visiting the city of Tunis and the medina is part of several excursions, but only as a secondary direction. The most popular such excursion is " Carthage - Sidi Bou Said - Tunisia", such a trip can be found in the price list of most Russian and foreign tour operators. Coral Travel and Pegas Touristik definitely have it.
Tourists are brought to the city of Tunisia on the "Square January 14, 2011" to Tunisian Big Ben (pictured left), then the group arranges in an organized manner along Habib Bourguiba Avenue , stopping at Independence Square.
The guide shows the local largest supermarket Monoprix, the gate Bab Bhar in the medina and says: "Olive oil in the supermarket, souvenirs behind the gates in the medina, in an hour I wait for everyone in the bus on the street to the right of Big Ben." After the guide is removed for his own business. Of course, there are also responsible guides who drive tourists along the medina and show the most interesting buildings on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, but such quality guides are rare.
There is no time for tourists to visit the medina in the medina, only the Bab Bhar Gate remains in memory.
How to come alone
If you have a rest in the hotel resort Gammarth or other resorts near the capital, then the easiest way to get there by taxi .
The resorts of Nabeul , Hammamet and Yasmine Hammamet are located near the city of Tunis, it is most convenient to come by bus .
The resorts of Sousse and El Kantaoui are further away, the easiest way to get to the capital is by train . From Mahdia and Skanes (Monastir) can also be reached by train, but you will have to make one change in Sousse.
From the bus or train station to get to the center of Tunisia is the easiest way by taxi.
Holidaymakers in Southern Tunisia - in Zarzis or on the island of Djerba to visit the capital should not think. In the capital either have to fly by plane, which is expensive, or go by bus for 8 hours, which is very tiring.
Features of a self visit to the medina
To be honest, in visiting the medina of the city of Tunisia there are bright negatives. The first 150 meters of the main street is occupied by the tourist market with all its worst attributes: importunate traders, lack of price tags, attempts to sell cheap Chinese handicrafts at exorbitant prices and barkers, impudently telling that they are cooks or waiters from your hotel. How to behave with these people, we described in detail in the article " How to buy souvenirs in Tunisia ."
If you go through the tourist market, the traders and barkers do not disappear at all, they just get smaller. Their constant presence "flaunts" tourists nerves and spoils impressions.
The second negative point - in the medina is very difficult to navigate, even the map does not always help. By the way, it is highly recommended to buy a card from the merchants at the entrance. All of the medina consists of intertwined narrow streets without any logic of organization. Plaques with street names or house numbers are rare, even with a map it can be difficult to understand where you are now.
It is strongly recommended to determine in advance the list of objects you want to visit, otherwise you can wander here all day.
What to see in the medina of Tunisia
The word "souk" is translated from Arabic as "bazaar" or "market". Not all markets in the medina of the city of Tunisia have survived to this day. The local market is not some kind of a separate building, more often it's just a street with benches on the ground floors or a group of buildings. If the street is part-time and the market, then it is called respectively, for example, "Souk El-attarine" or "Souk Ech-chaouchiya".
Souk El-Attarin is located in the northern part of the medina. They sell cosmetics, aromatic oils, hookah tobacco and everything related to perfume. See the photo on the right.
Souk El Coomach is located to the west of the Great Mosque. Here they sell fabrics and clothes. This market is difficult with something to mix up, it consists of three parallel roads, separated by rows of columns.
Souk Ech-Sheshsia is an amazing market where they sell all possible variations of the Tunisian national headgear - sheshshiya. Also here you can see and buy other clothes.
Sook El Burke. The name is literally translated as "slave market". Once here slaves were sold, now it is a place of trade in silver and gold ornaments.
In the medina of Tunisia, there are many more markets, most of which already can not be called "the market" - a couple of shops that we will not talk about in detail.
The main mosque of the medina and the whole city of Tunis is the Great Mosque of Zitoun (or Zitauna).
This mosque was built by Hassan ibn Numan - an Arab military leader in the late 7th century, who defeated the armies of Byzantines and Berbers, conquered Tunisia, founded the city of Tunis and the new capital - the city of Kairouan. Personality in the Arab world is legendary.
It is important to understand that it was not the Zitoun mosque that was built in the city of Tunisia, but the city of Tunisia arose around the Zitoun mosque.
One of the most beautiful in Tunisia is the mosque of Hamud Pasha. Built in 1664, it became part of the architectural ensemble of the Bei Palace - governors of the Ottoman Empire in Tunisia.
The Yusuf Day Mosque is another example of the Turkish style of architecture. It was built in 1615. Its feature is an octagonal minaret.
Palaces and mansions
Some houses in the medina of Tunisia are open to tourists, now these are museums. The names of such houses begin with the Arabic word "gift", which translates as "house."
The most famous such houses are Dar Hussein, where immediately after the conquest of the country by the French, the headquarters of the colonial troops was stationed, Dar Lasram - the chic villa of the rich landowner, Dar Romhan Bay.
In addition, in the medina there are several interesting squares, kasba, several museums.
Successful and interesting walks on the medina of the city of Tunisia, and read other interesting articles about the sights of Tunisia on our website JJ-Tours.ru ( list of links below ).
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