Not to be missed are the Tunis Medina with its bustling souks, the ancient city of Carthage and the stunning mosaics in the Bardo Museum, the world’s third largest colosseum, and the underground villas of Bulla Regia.
Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
1. Amphitheatre of El Jem
The power and glory of Imperial Rome can be easily seen in the small village of El Jem, where the impressive ruins of the largest colosseum in North Africa can be found. This huge 3rd century amphitheatre once held up to 35,000 spectators, and still attracts and amazes thousands of people today.
2. Medina of Tunis
From the 12th to the 16th century, Tunis was hailed as one of the Islamic world’s most important and prosperous cities. Today, as witness to its impressive past, it boasts around 700 ancient monuments, including mosques, mausoleums, madrasas, palaces and fountains.
3. Site of Carthage
Carthage, founded in 814BC, became the home of an extraordinary civilisation and trading empire throughout the Mediterranean. In 146BC, the original Carthage was destroyed by the Romans who established a second namesake city, Roman Carthage, on the ruins of the first.
4. Ichkeul National Park
This World Heritage-listed national park is 30km (18 miles) southwest of Bizerte, encompassing Lake Ichkeul and adjoining Jebel Ichkeul mountain. An important bird sanctuary, 200,000 waterfowl such as geese, storks and flamingoes migrate here every year to escape the harsh European winters. Fauna include mongoose, porcupines, jackals, wild boar and water buffalo (the descendents of just one pair given to Ahmed Bey in 1840!). To help you find your way around and get the most our of your visit, there’s also an information centre, picnic tables, marked hiking routes and a car park.
5. Punic Town of Kerkouane, and its Necropolis
The remains of this Phoenician city, abandoned during the First Punic War (c. 250BC) are the only surviving remains of a Phoenicio-Punic city, and reveal some astonishingly sophisticated town planning ideas.
Founded in 670, Kairouan is a principal holy city of Islam. Its rich architectural heritage includes the Great Mosque and the Mosque of the Three Gates that date back to the 9th century.
7. Medina of Sousse
Sousse was an important commercial and military port, and typical of a town dating from the early centuries of Islam. With its kasbah, ramparts, medina (with Sousse’s Great Mosque), Bou Ftata Mosque and typical ribat, Sousse shows itself to have been a hugely important part of Tunisia’s coastal defense system in previous eras.
8. Dougga / Thugga
The town of Thugga was the capital of an important Libyco-Punic state that flourished under Roman and Byzantine rule, but declined in the Islamic period. The impressive ruins that are still visible today give some idea of the resources of a small Roman town on the fringes of the empire.
Other historic sites worth a visit include Chemtou, Thuburbo Majus, Maktar, Monastir, Chenini, Utique and Jugurtha’s Table.
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