Archaeological Museum of Sousse
The archaeological museum of the city of Sousse boasts the second largest collection of mosaics of the Roman era, second only to the Bardo Museum in the capital. Here you can find all the most interesting finds of archaeologists from all over the Sahel region.
The museum is small, but very interesting, there are dozens of shelves with small pieces of ceramics, only large exhibits are exhibited. In addition, the museum is located in the cusp (fortress) of the city of Sousse, here you can walk along ancient bastions and climb the observation tower - the highest point of Sousse and the best viewpoint over the city. This is a "three in one" landmark, but everything is in order.
Visiting the archaeological museum is included in all sightseeing tours around the city of Sousse, because this is the main attraction of the city. During the excursion for the inspection, they give about 30 minutes, which is quite enough to see all the mosaics, statues and other exhibits.
For an ordinary tourist such an excursion is even preferable to an independent trip. The tour costs 35-45 dollars, lasts half a day.
Where to find and how to get there by yourself
The museum is located in the south-west corner of the medina (old town) of Sousse in kasb (fortress). Rather, it is under the kasbah, because the halls with the exhibits are located underground.
Getting from the resorts of Sousse and El Kantaoui is the easiest way by taxi. Tell the taxi driver the phrase "Sous archeologicical museum", he will understand the destination. A trip from the hotels of Suss will cost within 5 Tunisian dinars, from the hotels of El Kantaoui - from 5 to 10 dinars. The current exchange rate of the Tunisian currency can be found in our article " Tunisian Dinar ". For more information on Tunisia taxis read in our review " Taxis in Tunisia ".
Another cheaper way to get there is by local minibuses. But you need to go to the medina of Sousse, and then walk for about 10 minutes, go strictly along the wall of the medina, do not go wrong. Not every minibus rides to the medina, you need to "vote" and ask the driver the phrase "medina Suss". If he responds positively, then go, travel costs 1 dinar per person.
From the hotels of the resorts of Monastir and Mahdia it is convenient to reach Sousse by train on the Sakhel Metro line for only 1 dinar. Further to the museum it is better to go by taxi, so as not to get lost and save energy.
Of the hotels in Nabeul , Hammamet or Yasmine Hammamet, we do not recommend going alone, it's expensive and tedious, it's better to pay for an organized tour.
If you have a rest in Zarzis or on the island of Djerba , then it's better to forget about visiting the Sousse museum altogether. You can get there, but in theory, and excursions to Suss from here do not suit.
Map of Sousse Medina with the designation of the Archaeological Museum, other attractions and the tourist route, see our article " Medina Sussa ".
Ticket price - 9 Tunisian dinars (in the photo on the left, click on the photo to enlarge). Children are free. Permission for photography is 1 dinar. On the ticket you can see all the halls of the museum and a thematic exhibition (if at that moment it will pass), inspect the kazbu and climb the tower.
If you visit the Sousse Museum during an organized excursion, then the ticket is included in the price of the excursion, and permission to take photographs should be purchased separately.
In the period from May 1 to September 15 - from 9-00 to 19-00.
In the period from September 16 to April 30 - from 9-00 to 17-00.
The museum works 7 days a week, without days off. In Ramadan, the time of work does not change.
How much time to plan
To inspect all the exhibits is enough for 30 minutes. If you still climb the bastion and the top platform of the tower, then add another 30 minutes. Total: about one hour will be enough.
At the ticket office you can take for free a small guidebook with information about the museum in Russian and a scheme of halls. Translation into Russian is terrible, although everything is clear. The scheme is useful not to miss any important exhibit.
A bit of history
Archaeological excavations in Tunisia began the French immediately after the establishment of the protectorate in 1882. For a large number of finds, there was a place for storage. In 1897, a museum was established in Sousse, but it was a warehouse, not an exposition. In 1902 the Society of Archeology of Sousse was founded.
In 1952 the exhibition opened, and in its present form the museum was opened only on June 9, 2012. The large stained-glass window (pictured on the right, click to enlarge) became the visiting card of the museum. Here you can find excavations in Sousse and surrounding areas: El Jem, Anfida, Moknin, El-Aliya, Temetra, Uzitu.
The exhibits are exhibited in several halls on the themes: Christian funerary hall, Roman funeral hall, Punic funeral hall, Great Hall.
We will tell in detail about the most interesting parts of the museum, kasbe and exhibits.
Kasbah and the Tower
Medina is a walled part of an Arab city, and kasba is a fortress located in one of the corners of the medina. The Kasb in Sousse is at the highest point of the medina. The Kasbah Sussa is one of the largest not only in Tunisia, but also in the entire Maghreb. Kasbah was rebuilt several times from the 11th to the 15th centuries.
In a large courtyard now a magnificent garden is broken, visitors can climb the stairs to one of the bastions. The entrance to the walls for visitors is closed, as there are no fences at the top. See below a small photo gallery of Sousse's kusby.
The last photo disheartens, wishing to scribble their name on the UNESCO World Heritage site is among the Russians.
The most interesting thing for tourists is to climb the Aleppo tower built in 859 and serving as an observation post and a lighthouse. This is the highest point of the city of Sousse, from the top of the tower can be seen all the medina "as in the palm of your hand."
The entrance to the museum is immediately after entering the kazbu, and many tourists immediately go to the museum, and just do not know what the fortress can be like. We recommend that you first see the kasbah and then descend to the museum. This way one can "touch" both the Roman and the Arabian epochs of the history of Tunisia .
This mosaic is also called "The Head of Medusa". This is the main "pearl" of the collection of the archaeological museum of Sousse.
The mosaic depicts the head of the Medusa Gargona, who with one glance turned living beings into stone. Around the image of the head is an ornament that should enhance the impression of the monster's head.
The mosaic is quite large, and above it is a mirror, so that visitors can better view the central image of the head of Medusa Gargona. How it's organized, look at the photo on the left, click on the photo to enlarge.
Mosaic "Medusa" dates from about 2 century AD. She was found in a tepidarium (a warm part of the Roman baths) in one of the villas near the town of Sousse.
Mosaic "Triumph of Bacchus"
Still this mosaic is called "Triumph of Dionysus". Bacchus - the god of wine and winemaking from the Romans, the Greeks call him Dionysus. This mosaic is considered the most beautiful in the museum of Sousse. Click here to view the photo .
God Bacchus is depicted on a two-wheeled chariot drawn by four tigers. Bacchus is surrounded by satyrs and Bacchante. It is believed that this scene of triumphant return of Bacchus from a successful campaign to India, although this version is not proven.
The mosaic is very large - 4 x 4.5 meters. It dates back to around 3 century, was found in the residential part of one of the villas in Sousse.
Mosaic "Zeus abducts Ganymede"
According to the legends, Ganymede was a very handsome youth, whom the god Jupiter (Zeus) kidnapped and made his cupbearer on Mount Olympus. This mosaic shows exactly the moment of abduction, when Ganymede picks up the eagle into which Jupiter turned. Click here to view the photo .
This mosaic was found in Sousse, it dates back to the 2nd century.
Mosaic "Theatrical masks"
At first glance this mosaic causes tourists some shock, because it seems that the main character holds a severed head in his hands. In fact, there are theatrical masks (in the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge).
The second name of this mosaic is "The Poet". Pay attention to a small bag near the feet of the poet, where the scrolls are clearly visible, such a bag was called "volumen"
Mosaic "Seasons and months"
This is a mosaic from the city of Tizdra (now El Jem ). It shows 4 seasons, from autumn to winter. Seasons are shown in the left column. Click here to view the photo .
Each cell represents a certain month and a small scene from everyday life this month. The Latin names of the months are very similar to the modern ones.
In the collection of the Sousse Museum more than 20 large mosaics. There is no point in talking about everyone in detail, but they should be admired. Below, see the small photo gallery.
Here are collected stells and urns from the sanctuary of the god Baal-Hammon. This is the richest found collection of Punic artifacts. The items date from 7-2 centuries BC. The sanctuary was unearthed by the famous French archaeologist Pierre Cintas.
Here sacrificial animals were buried in urns. Also in the urns are found the remains of the bones of children. Did the children sacrifice or bury the dead? This question among historians remains open. When the entire area of the burial was filled, a layer of earth was piled on top and the urns were placed already in this new layer. There were six such layers in the sanctuary in Sousse.
On several stands a collection of Punic pottery from the sanctuary is collected, only well-preserved specimens are exhibited. Punic pottery is easy to recognize by the black color of the varnish.
See the small photo gallery below.
The statue of the god Priapus
Priapus is the god of fertility and vitality. He also was responsible for the male power, that is, for sexual potency.
His statue immediately strikes, because Priap was depicted with sexual organs of hypertrophied dimensions and always in an excited state. Not all parts of this statue of Priap remained intact, the photo on the left, click on the photo to enlarge.
Statues and images of Priap are rare, he was never considered an important deity of the Greeks and Romans.
Other statues and ceramics
In the halls of the museum are exhibited two dozen sculptures, including: the gods Jupiter, Apollo and Artemis, the emperors of Troyan and Adrian, the Empress Sabina and Fulvia Platilla, the sculptures "black child" and "cupid on the hunt."
Near the hall of Punic pottery, you can find a selection of dishes and ceramic figurines of the Roman era. This ceramics is easy to recognize by the red color of the varnish.
Another interesting exhibit is a Christian baptistery, similar to Punic and Roman baths. In such bathing baptized children. You can see the collection of tiles and mosaics of the Christian era.
See another photo gallery below.
Tips for tourists
"There are two stairs down in the courtyard of the kasba." These are not the entrances to the museum, but fire exits. Do not try to enter them, they are closed.
- The museum has a toilet upstairs next to the ticket offices, and there are two toilets downstairs. Use the bottom, they are cleaner and more convenient.
- In the hot months, do not forget about the headdresses and suitable clothes. On the wardrobe on a trip to Tunisia, we said in the article " What to take with you to Tunisia ."
- There is a small exhibition on the premises of the kasba, dedicated to the finds in the catacombs of Sousse. Do not miss.
- There is a wooden door above the large glass stained glass window. This is office space, the passage is closed.
- There are a small shop near the cash desks where you can buy books with photos of mosaics and small souvenirs. Do not be lazy to look, these gifts from Tunisia can only be bought here.
An interesting visit to the museum of the city of Sousse, and read our interesting articles about Tunisia ( links below ).
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