GR Travels

Bardo Museum

This is the oldest and the most important of Tunisian museums. Over a century ago, it was established in the premises of a Beylical palace, for the most part built in the mid XIXth century, and which has retained all the features of a princely residence. It underwent several refurbishments to adapt to the expanding collections and to the ever increasing flows of visitors, but today it is undergoing a huge restructuring plan to improve its visibility and legibility. Thousands of objects originating from excavations carried out all over the country during the XIXth and XXth centuries are on display. These are divided into departments between fifty or so rooms and galleries, illustrating the various stages of Tunisias history, from prehistory to the middle of the last century, which in chronological order are prehistory, the PunicLibyic period, the Roman and early Christian periods, with the Vandal and Byzantine eras, and finally, the Islamic period running to contemporary times. Thanks to its collection of mosaics, the Bardo museum has gained an international reputation for the richest, the most varied and the most refined collection. Amongst the finest pieces it holds are the representation of Virgil surrounded by muses, or the pavement of Dionysos giving Ikarios the gift of the vine, or another celebrating the triumph of Neptune, to mention only a few of the key exhibits. But these are not the museums only assets. Amongst the Bardos major exhibits is the hermaion, an altar dating to the Mousterian period (40 000 years ) considered as one of the very earliest forms of human spiritual expression: a conical shaped pile 75cm high and 1.50 m wide , composed of more than 4000 pieces of flint, bones and limestone balls. From the Punic period there is a superb solid gold armor belonging to a Campanian warrior, jewellery, the stele of a priest carrying a child for sacrifice as well as many refined funerary furnishings originating from various Mediterranean countries belonging to the Museums Greek and Egyptian collection. The Greek collection was providentially enriched by underwater excavations carried out during the 40s off the town of Mahdia, in the wreak of a ship that sank during a storm around the first century and that was carrying furniture and architectural elements for a Hellenistic era patrician dwelling. Amongst the masterpieces retrieved from the seabed is a superb 1,20m high bronze Agon. The Roman period has provided the Bardo with most of its collections: mosaics, of course, but also statues, pottery, jewellery, coins, religious objects, utilitarian objects etc. The Islamic department, housed in an ArabIslamic setting, encloses objects from various periods, manuscripts, jewellery, carved stone and wood, utilitarian objects. Two small rooms, around an elegant patio, enclose objects that once belonged to the reigning family and a third room contains Jewish religious objects.      Book Now



Catacombs

The Catacombs of Sousse is a necropolis of underground passages, chambers and tombs was believed to be created towards the end of the first century by Christians to bury their dead during periods of persecution .Les Catacombes du Bon Pasteur or Good Shepherd Catacombs are located in the western part of the city not that far from Souk LAhad about 1 km west of the Medina (off rue Abdou Hamed el Ghazali). Only a small section of catacombs is open to the public. They were discovered in 1888 by Colonel Vincent and are said to be better preserved than the catacombs of Rome. The actual entrance itself is artless, just a little modest doorway. This necropolis of underground passages, chambers and tombs hewn from the local soft rock, probably on the site of an earlier pagan necropolis, was believed to be created towards the end of the first century by Christians to bury their dead during periods of persecution. Considered a threat to the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted, and it is believed that they were not allowed to bury their dead in cemeteries, thus they took to creating the catacombs. The Sousse catacombs are formed of a complex of 240 galleries stretching over 5 kilometers and containing an estimated 15.000 burial chambers, with 6,000 tombs; late third century), of Hermes (2,500 tombs; third century) and Severus (5,000 tombs; early fourth century).The Catacombs were used not only as a clandestine cemetery but also as a place of worship and a refuge for the first Christian faithful until the end of the IVth century. Of the four main shafts three have been excavated. They also contained many sacred arte facts that are now displayed in the Sousse Archaeological Museum: epitaphs, marble carved with sacred symbols (fish, doves, the Good Shepherd etc.)As you can see from the map, only a small section of the catacombs, (about 100 m) - the roofs of which have to be supported on props because of the danger of collapse - is open to the public. Les Catacombes du Bon Pasteur, named after an engraving of the bon pasteur (good shepherd) was found inside. Most of the graves have been bricked in; a few have glass fronts, revealing skeletal remains.      Book Now



Medina

The Medina of Tunis, the historic quarter of the capital of Tunisia, is a labyrinth of some seven hundred monuments and buildings, many dating to the period between the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries. The Medina of Tunis was founded in the seventh century following the fall of Carthage, but flourished in the twelfth century under the rule of the Almohad Dynasty and then under the Hafsid Dynasty up to the sixteenth century, both being Berber dynasties. During this time, Tunis was a thriving centre of commerce and culture, the result today being an impressive collection of surviving mosques, palaces and monuments. The oldest mosque in the Medina of Tunis is the AlZaytuna Mosque or Mosque of Olives, which is thought to date back to the seventh or eighth century. The Sidi Mehrez Mosque in the Souk Ejjadid, with its distinctive white domes, is one of the most noticeable in the Medina of Tunis, it dating back to 1675. Today, visitors enter the Medina of Tunis via the Bab el Bahr, a gateway also known as the Porte de France, a reminder of Tunis time under French rule (18811956). It was also under the French that the importance of the Tunis of Medina declined as the city expanded. There is a map of the Tunis of Medina next to the gate, allowing visitors to get their bearings and orange signs can be found throughout pointing to various sites. The Medina of Tunis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of our Top 10 Tunisian Tourist Attractions.      Book Now



North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial

At the 27-acre North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia rest 2841 of our military dead, their headstones set in straight lines subdivided into nine rectangular plots by wide paths, with decorative pools at their intersections. Along the southeast edge of the burial area, bordering the tree-lined terrace leading to the memorial is the Wall of the Missing. On this wall 3,724 names are engraved. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most honored here lost their lives in World War II in military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. The chapel and the memorial court, which contain large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting the operations and supply activities of American forces across Africa to the Persian Gulf, were designed to harmonize with local architecture. The chapel interior is decorated with polished marble, flags and sculpture. Headstones are set in straight lines subdivided into 9 rectangular plots by wide paths, with decorative pools at their intersections. Along the southeast edge of the burial area, bordering the tree-lined terrace leading to the memorial is the Wall of the Missing. On this wall 3,724 names are engraved. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. The chapel and the memorial court, which contains large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting the operations and supply activities of American forces across Africa to the Persian Gulf, were designed to harmonize with local architecture. The chapel interior is decorated with polished marble, flags and sculpture. The cemetery is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays except Tunisian Public holidays and December 25 and January 1. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is usually on duty in the Visitor Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.      Book Now



Zaytuna-Mosque

The mosque is the oldest in the Capital of Tunisia and covers an area of 5,000 square meters (1.2 acres) with nine entrances. It has 160 authentic columns brought originally from the ruins of the old city of Carthage. The mosque is known to host one of the first and greatest universities in the history of Islam. Many Muslim scholars were graduated from the AlZaytuna for over a thousand years. From Ibn Arafa, one of the greatest scholars of Islam, Imam Mazari, the great traditionalist and jurist to the famous Tunisian poet AboulQacem Echebbi and countless others all taught there. AlZaytuna was the second mosque to be built in Ifriqiya and the Maghreb region after the Mosque of Uqba in AlKairouan. The exact date of building varies according to source. Ibn Khaldun and AlBakri wrote that it was built in 116 Hijri (731 C.E.) by ObeidAllah Ibn AlHabhab. A second source states that the Umayyad Hisham Ibn AbdelMalek ordered the building; however, Ahmed In Abu Diyaf and Ibn Abi Dinar attributed the order to Hassan IbnuNoauman who led the conquest of Tunis and Carthage. Most scholars agreed that the third possibility is the strongest by evidence as it is unlikely that the city of Tunis remained a long time without a mosque, after its conquest in 79 Hijri. Thus the closest date is 84 Hijri (703 CE), and what AlHabhab did was in fact enlarge the mosque and improve its architecture. It was used as a place of prayer by the Muslim conqueror Hassan Ibn anNo man.;      Book Now


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