Tunis

Welcome to Tunis

Tunisia’s capital is one of North Africa’s most easygoing cities, yet still full of exotic appeal. It’s this laid back approach that makes Tunis the perfect introduction to the region. Most of the main sightseeing is in the Medina (Old Town), which is a tourist attraction in itself. Here the alleyways wind in higgledy-piggledy routes. Once amid the high walls you’re bound to get lost.

Outside of this charming labyrinth, though, is the European-style of the Ville Nouvelle (New Town), where French café culture sets the speed of the day and sumptuous belle époque architecture lines the ordered streets. Outside of the centre are the city’s two most important sights. The fabulous mosaic collection of the world-famous Bardo Museum and the remnants of once glorious Carthage are must-dos on every visitor’s travel agenda.

Top Tunis Attractions

Vist the Bardo National Museum The world’s most renowned mosaic collection resides in this opulent palace in Tunis. Along with Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, The Bardo is one of North Africa’s two top museum experiences. Inside, room after room exhibits gloriously intricate and still vibrantly fresh examples of mosaic art that have been unearthed from sites across the entirety of Tunisia. The Sousse Room, Odysseus Room and Dougga Room have particularly impressive exhibits of this art form, but the entire collection is a treasury and is well worth an entire afternoon of browsing. The ground floor of the building holds some interesting non-mosaic exhibits with displays of the neo-Punic, Christian, and Islamic eras.

The Medina District Chock-a-block full of crumbling buildings found by weaving your way through a procession of ever-skinnier alleyways, the Medina (Old Town) district is Tunis’ historic heart and is brimming with sightseeing potential. The main entrance gate, marking the end of the new city and beginning of the old is known as Bab el Bahr (Sea Gate). Built in 1848, it was known as Porte de France during the colonial period. The old town walls of the Hafsid period may have long ago disappeared but once inside mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and mausoleums boasting opulent tile work and splendid Fatimid and Ottoman architecture line the twisting streets. Getting lost while meandering and stumbling onto some fabulous monumental relic is half the fun.

Shoppers should head to Souk des Chechias, where the makers of Tunisia’s traditional woollen hats have had their workshops for centuries. The area between Rue Djemma ez Zaitouna and Rue Kasbah is where most of the souvenir stalls congregate.

Visit the New Town (Ville Nouvelle) Architecture fans should check out the wonderful mix of colonial and post-colonial buildings along Avenue Habib Bourguiba, from the modernist inverted pyramid of Hotel du Lac to the more genteel and grand European-style of the government buildings. At the intersection with Avenue Mohammed V, Place d’Afrique has a clock monument symbolising Tunisia’s modern era.

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