Travelling in Tunisia presents an opportunity to experience a rich, diverse history, culture and people.
Crossing the country from east to west you can experience olive groves, the Red Mountains of Temerza, the golden dunes of the Sahara and the beautiful coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Tunis, the capital of Tunisia with a population of 1.2 million, lies on the coast, and enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters.
The city stretches for kilometres along the coast, and in the middle lies the old city (medina) with its obligatory souk (partially covered bazaar) offering leather goods, plastic gadgets of all sorts, tin products, filigree jewellery, carpets, food and tourist souvenirs.
is the industrial and commercial heart of the country, although industry’s role is decreasing. Presently, textile, carpet weaving, olive oil and food processing, and financial industries dominate, with tourism playing a supporting role.
The French have been influencing Tunisia and Tunis culturally for some time; churches and commercial buildings show French influence in design and appearance.
In the medina the Great-, Aghlabid Ez Zitouna (built in the eight century) Mosques, Dar al Bey Palace, and the Bardo Museum are well worth visiting. These visits could take two to three days pending on interest level. The souk on the other hand requires a full day, especially for those who like to shop for exotic jewellery and carpets.
has a few synagogues, and there are several large parks on the outskirts. The zoo grounds located in one of the parks also contains the Museum of Modern Art.
The most interesting sight to visit is Carthage, a short drive from Tunis.
A Phoenician princess founded Carthage in the second millennium B C. Phoenicians at the time were the dominant trading power around the Mediterranean Sea. Later, Berber tribes and others occupied the city.
The Roman Empire tried several tied several times to capture this commercially important harbour, and the Roman senator Marcus Portius Cato is known to have concluded each of his frequent speeches at the senate with the following sentence: “And by the way Carthage must be destroyed”.
Finally in 146 B C Roman soldier and navy sailors occupied and destroyed the city. During the Roman occupation of Tunisia many amphitheatres were build some of which are still being used as open air theatres today.
Islam arrived in the seventh century through Ghassanid general Hassan ibn Numan, his army and followers.
From the 12th to 16th centuries Carthage was controlled by Almadiad and Hafis Berber dynasties during which time the city became the richest and greatest in the Arab world with a population of 100 000. In comparison London had a population of 35 000 in 1577.
Carthage enthrals history buffs. You can easily spend at least a full day visiting the different and partially restored ruins, and if you are interested in history, several days.
Tunis offers accommodation at several levels from Bed and Breakfast, to luxury hotels, and everything in between.
Many western hotel chains either managed locally owned hotels, or have their own establishments.
The best months to visit Tunis are September to May.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.