Central Tunisia

KAIROUAN

As Tunisia’s most religious city, Kairouan is bestowed with numerous mosques and is a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of the oldest places of Muslim worship in the world.

Located to the northwest of the Sebkhel de Sidi El Hani, south of Sousse, Kairouan is renowned throughout the Islamic world as the home of the Great Mosque of Kairouan (also known as the Mosque of Uqba): a vast edifice with exquisite marble and gilding topped by an unusual box-shaped minaret. Characterised by luxuriant gardens and ancient olive groves, Kairouan was founded around the year 670 and was once the scene of great power battles between warring tribes. The city was all but destroyed by a violent incursion in the 11th century, taking two long centuries to recover. Under the Husainid Dynasty, Kairouan established its status throughout the Islamic world. In 1881, Kairouan was taken by the French, after which non-Muslims were allowed access to the city and today visitors from all around the world arrive to people-watch, shop for vases and eat sugary local pastries in the cafes of the buzzing Medina quarter.

KASSERINE

Tucked under the mighty crags of Tunisia's highest mountain Jebel Chambi, Kasserine is a bustling farming town, wedged between the olive groves, esparto grass fields and forests of the country’s undulating west-central region.

Famous for its rare slender-horned gazelle, striped hyena, wild boar, fox, hare, falcons, partridge, eagle and hawk, the National Park of Chambi lies 13 miles to the east. Characterised by 1,500-metre snow-capped peaks looped by scenic walking trails, it is an UNESCO-listed Bio-Reserve. To the north-west, historic Kasserine Pass was the scene of a decisive battle in 1943 that compounded the collapse of German resistance in northern Africa as part of the Tunisia’s World War II campaign. Today, the Roman-era town draws crop-growers and agro-merchants from miles around to its jam-packed agricultural auctions and Tuesday markets. Proud, loyal and nationalistic, the population of Kasserine are renowned nation-wide for their strong principals and firebrand character. Visitors can browse crumbling Roman ruins, stroll around neat, paved palm-planted squares, or enjoy challenging treks through pine, cedar and oak forests in the formidable Aures Mountains.