Ribat of Sousse
Ribat of Sousse is one of the most ancient Arab structures in Tunisia. This is a fortress that has survived since the 9th century without major changes and destruction. Here you can personally see the ancient fortification art and climb the high tower, from which you can see the port and the entire medina of Sousse.
What is a rebate?
Ribat is an Islamic fortress-monastery, they were built in the border areas and on the coast of North Africa. In the ribatas, the service was "murabiruny" - these are monk soldiers who studied the Koran, spiritual practices and war. It was believed that a lifetime Murabirunu guaranteed to hit the paradise.
The word "ribat" comes from the word "rabat", which is translated from Arabic "guarded garrison".
Ribat was not only a fortress, but also a religious center. They held prisoners of war and converted them to Islam, stored sacred texts and relics. Ribata has always been a place of pilgrims' stop. In particular, in Sissa ribs pilgrims stopped and waited for the ships on which they sailed to Egypt, and then traveled by land to Mecca.
Ribata over time lost their importance for defense, but they became centers of education and theology. In particular, the rebound of Soussa became a madrasah.
What do tourists see here?
This is the oldest structure in Sousse. His age is not exactly fixed, but in 821 he was definitely in the current state. Probably some parts of the building are much older. This is one of the most ancient monuments of the Islamic era in Tunisia.
The main value of Ribat Suss - it came to us in its original form, in contrast to Monastir's rebate, which was built and rebuilt many times. Only in 1722 a part of the arcade was restored. Here, as nowhere else, you can look at the walls on which the walls stood and how they defended themselves in those days.
The tower in the eastern corner of the fortress (pictured left, click on the photo to enlarge) is open to visitors, you can see the medina of Sousse from the top and see the houses of the modern city.
Ribat Sussa is a masterpiece of fortification, although the size of the fortress is small. This is an example of how to build an effective protective structure, with a minimum of resources.
And inside there is a clean toilet, and in the medina to find such a problem.
How to get there
Of the hotels in the resorts of El Kantaoui and Sousse, it is most convenient to take a taxi. From El Kantaoui it will cost 6-12 dinars, from Suss hotels - 3-6 dinars. You can see the actual course in our article " Tunisian Dinar ", see the article " Prices for Taxis in Tunisia " for fares . Another option is to get on a minibus for 1 dinar per person, which we wrote about in the article " Marshrunks in Tunisia ".
If you go by taxi, then tell the driver the phrase "Rebate Suss" so that he knows exactly the destination. It is not advisable to say the word "medina", the medina of Sousse is large, the driver will bring to that point where it will be convenient for him.
Find the rebate is very simple, look at its tower, which is clearly visible from everywhere (see the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge).
From the hotels of Mahdia and Skanes (Monastir) it is easy to reach by train to Sousse, read our article " Subway Sahel " about it. After arriving in Sousse, you can take a taxi (instruction above) or walk straight from the station to the medina wall, turn to the right and go along the wall to the entrance to the medina.
From the hotels of Hammamet , Yasmine Hammamet and Nabeul can be reached by bus or train, although this is quite tiring. If you decide, then read our reviews of " Trains in Tunisia " and " Buses in Tunisia ". A simpler version is a sightseeing tour around the city of Sousse, where it is shown by ribat, museums and a mosque.
From the hotels Djerba or Zarzis to get to Sousse yourself is too long and expensive, and excursions are not arranged.
Map of Sousse Medina with the designation of Ribat, other attractions and tourist route, see our article " Medina Sussa ".
The ticket costs 7 dinars. In the photo on the left, click on the photo to enlarge.
Children under 6 years - free of charge.
Permission for photography is 1 dinar.
You can see the current course in our article " Tunisian Dinar ".
Winter season (16.09-31.03): from 8-00 to 17-00.
Summer season (01.04-15.09): from 8-00 to 19-00.
A bit of history
The time of construction of Sousse riba was not established exactly. Here an inscription is written with a Kufic letter telling about the restoration and completion of the tower by the emir Ziyadet Allah I from the Aglabid dynasty in 821. Photo inscriptions, click .
Probably, the fortress existed up to this point. The place was very important for the Arabs, because there is a convenient harbor, and from here only 60 kilometers to the first Arabian capital of Tunis, the city of Kairouan.
In the pre-Islamic era of the history of Tunisia in this place was the Byzantine (formerly Roman) city of Hadrumet, in its place the Arabs built the city of Sousse. Most likely, the rebate was not built from scratch. Historians disagree. Some believe that it was completed from a Byzantine fortress, some say that there used to be a Christian basilica here.
A very widespread version that the rebate was started by the governor of the Abbasid dynasty, Yazid ibn-Hatim Al-Muhallabi, in 771-778.
Building materials for the fortress were taken in the ruins of the city of Hadrumet. In the same way were built the Great Mosque , the walls and houses of Sousse Medina.
Ribat was part of the coastal defense system that protected the young still city of Sousse from the attacks of the Byzantine fleet. Also emirs of the Aghlabid dynasty used Sousse to prepare for the invasion of Sicily, which took place in 827.
Already in a few centuries, rebate gave way to the leading role in the defense of kasb (fortress in the corner of the medina, now the Sousse Archaeological Museum ). Massive walls of Sousse Medina made riabat almost useless for military needs.
Ribat did not rebuild under the new realities of coastal combat, but remained a religious center. That is why it was preserved in its original form. Details of the military everyday life in the ribat are unknown to us, numerous sources tell only about the saints who lived here, but not about military operations.
In 1722, the rebate underwent a small reconstruction and became a madrasah (a religious college). After the establishment of the protectorate in 1881, it becomes a place for detention under quarantine. After the declaration of independence, Tunisia becomes an open-air museum.
What to watch
Interesting begins already at the entrance to the rebate. Pay attention to the very narrow and high gate, in which barely enter two enemy soldiers. The gate is made of Roman columns, taken obviously from the ruins of Hadrumet.
Behind the gate is a small hall, where the defenders met the enemy's gate that had broken through, guaranteeing a numerical advantage. Now there is a metal detector frame, cash registers and a small souvenir shop. See the small photo gallery below.
Ribat Sousse square with a length of each wall 38 meters. This form of fortress is found everywhere in Tunisia, probably borrowed from the Byzantines.
After passing through the hall, you will enter the central courtyard. On the perimeter of the yard there is an arcade, and behind it there is a corridor. Along the corridor are the entrances to the cell, where the murabiruns lived and warehouses were located. You can see firsthand the very ascetic conditions in which the murabiruns lived.
The second floor is arranged similarly, but there are no cells on the south side, there was a prayer hall here. In the center of the hall in the wall, find a semicircular depression - this is the mihrab, where the imam prayed. Like the gate, the mihrab is surrounded by columns of clearly Roman origin.
In some cells there are stone tablets with inscriptions. Naturally, only massive objects are shown, so that they are not taken away by visitors.
On the roof (considered the third floor) are the entrance to the tower and seven bastions. Throwing guns were installed here. Be attentive on the roof, here are low fences.
The tower is the main entertainment for tourists. Outwardly it resembles the minarets of Abbasid mosques, this style was popular in North Africa from the end of the 8th century. Such towers were called "Nodar", they served simultaneously as observation posts, and beacons, and signal towers. Nador ribata Sussa also served as the minaret of the neighboring Great Mosque.
Upward there are 76 steps. The passage is very narrow, two people can disperse in it, but only if they are not very complex. There is not much space on the site, we recommend not to hurry. If you see at the top of another person or hear a voice, it is better to wait until he comes down again.
On the upper platform are very low flanks. Be extremely careful, high tourists we advise you to move in single file. At the top look from the heights to the medina of Sousse and other parts of the city. You can try to see your hotel, many tourists do it.
At this visit of the ribbon comes to an end, there is nothing to watch here. Successful excursions in Tunisia, and read our other interesting articles about this country ( links below ).
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