Villa Sebastian in Hammamet
Villa Sebastian is a house with a garden in Hammamet . This attraction we can safely assign the first prize in the nomination "The most not understood by the Russians sight-seeing of Tunisia". If you ask the Russian tourists who have visited here about their impressions, then in 9 cases out of 10 you will hear: "The house, the garden, it's beautiful, but nothing special".
If you read English-speaking, French or German websites, you will find whole ode describing the splendor of this place. Europeans Villa Sebastian sincerely admire. Why such a difference in perception? We will answer this question and tell you about this place in detail.
A bit of history
Gheorghe Sebastian (room) or Georges Sebastian (fr.) - a millionaire of Romanian origin, in the photo on the right in the center you can see his bust. He lived in Paris, but when he got to Hammamet, he was fascinated by the city, bought a piece of land and built his dream villa.
Gheorghe Sebastian himself was a very mysterious person. It is known that he was a sociable person, in the circle of his acquaintances were politicians, businessmen and artists.
The villa was built by his friend - the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. After the completion of the construction, the architect said: "This is the most beautiful house of all that I knew."
Frequent guests in these walls were artists and designers. During the Second World War, Marshal Rommel's headquarters were here, then Marshal Montgomery's headquarters, Sebastian's guest was Winston Churchill. About the guests of the house we will talk a little later in the second part of this article.
In 1962, the villa becomes the property of the Government of Tunisia, the Cultural Center of Hammamet is organized here. In 1964, the theater is being built in the garden and here they begin to hold the annual International Festival in Hammamet, the second most important cultural event in Tunisia after the Festival in Carthage.
Why does Villa so delight European tourists?
It's no secret that the British, French and Germans dream of spending old age somewhere in the southern countries in a cozy little house on the coast. And some of this dream is realized. Quite a few French pensioners migrate to Morocco or Tunisia, some Germans leave for Turkey, the British for Cyprus.
In fact, very few of the elderly European pensioners can afford old age in a beautiful house on the coast. For them, Villa Sebastian is their dream in reality, it is their dream, which they see with their own eyes here and now. Hence their admiration. The photo on the left shows the interior of the villa Sebastian.
It was Gheorghe Sebastian who started this fashion in his time at the winter houses in Tunisia. He was the first who settled in Hammamet, followed by other rich Frenchmen, and then other Europeans. Of course, in the 1920s the French were already living here, but for an ordinary Frenchman the move to Tunisia was more of a punishment or a forced measure. Sebastian introduced the fashion to voluntarily settle here.
And is there any sense to go here for the Russians?
Russians have their dreams of quiet old age, but in such a dream of the average Russian there is neither Tunisia nor Hammamet. Enthusiasm of Europeans to our tourists are not clear.
But visiting Villa Sebastian has its big pluses: it's beautiful, interesting and cheap. In addition, the house is located within the city of Hammamet, here it is quick and easy to get to.
How to get there
The easiest way to get there by taxi is a taxi in Tunisia is inexpensive. A trip from any of the hotels in the resorts of Hammamet or Yasmine Hammamet will cost within 10 Tunisian dinars .
From the hotels of the resort of Nabeul is also close - within 20 dinars and up to one hour drive. Mutual location of the villa and nearby resorts, see the map on the right, click on the map to enlarge.
There are no organized tours here (note: this review was written in 2016), but no one hinders hiring a private guide, who himself will bring and show all the interesting.
An important point! Arriving at the site, you will not find a sign "Dan Sebastian" ("Sebastian's House"), look for a sign "Hammamet Cultural Center" ("Cultural Center of Hammamet").
The entrance to the villa costs 5 Tunisian dinars. In the holiday season near you can find a guide who for 10-20 dinars will make a short excursion. Or rather, they will find and torture themselves with their proposals, you will still wave away.
Every day from 8-00 to 18-00.
How much time to plan
The total area of Villa Sebastian is 17 hectares. If you want to see the whole garden, admire the view of the sea and carefully inspect the house, then plan two hours. For a quick survey, count for one hour.
Value for tourists is a place of rest for historical personalities
In different years dozens of politicians, famous military men and artists have visited here. We list only the most famous.
Sir Winston Churchill loved to rest in Hammamet and, of course, was at Villa Sebastian. German commanders Hans-Jurgen von Arnim and Erwin Rommel, nicknamed "the fox of the desert." British and American commanders in World War II, Bernard Lowe Montgomery and Dwight Eisenhower, who later became president of the United States. King of Great Britain George VI.
Artists were even more frequent guests. Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti, German artist Paul Klee, French writer André Gide, fashion designer Coco Chanel and Italian actress Sophia Loren. And this is not a complete list.
Do not miss the chance to stroll around the garden, where all these outstanding personalities of our era rested.
Garden, house and theater
In the garden of Villa Sebastian it is nice to sit and relax from the stress of the streets of the city and the hustle and bustle. Here planted a lot of plants brought from all over the Mediterranean. The garden does not look very well maintained, but this is not an omission of the administration, but rather a style of decoration of the villa.
In the house you will find some very interesting places. The pool with arches in the 20's looked like the top of luxury, then only very rich people could afford it. This pool can be seen in the photo above in the background.
The bathroom is made in the form of a cross, and it is not accidental (see the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge). Such a bathroom for 4 people imitates a bathhouse from the times of ancient Carthage , such a bath was found during excavations of the Punic city of Kerkuan in Tunisia.
The interior of the house was designed by the famous designer Jean-Michel Frank, famous as one of the masters of minimalism in interior design. The house has a lot of works of art, because Sebastian was a collector. Also inside you can find several paintings and bas-reliefs depicting Sebastian himself.
Outwardly, the house is a mixture of classic Arabian, Andalusian styles of architecture with "notes" of European style. During the construction the house was rebuilt several times, to which Gheorghe Sebastian did not spare money. Then in Hammamet even began to spread the saying: "Build and demolish as Sebastian."
The theater was built after the transfer of the house to the ownership of the Tunisian government. This imitation of the classical Greek amphitheater was built by the famous French architect Paul Shemetov.
We recommend visiting Villa Sebastian, it's beautiful, interesting and inexpensive. In Tunisia, many interesting attractions, read about them and the country on our website ( links below ).
Read about Tunisia on our website