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Tunis & around

Set on a picturesque promontory extending out into the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Tunis, Carthage ranks amongst the world’s greatest cities of antiquity. At just 9 miles from central Tunis, Carthage may have almost been absorbed by the capital’s sprawling suburbs but is very much another world. 

As one of the most important archaeological sites ever discovered, Carthage was colonised by Phoenician merchants around 814 BC and fast became a master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. It became the centre of a powerful empire after the fall of its mother-city Tyre in 575.  An almost perennial struggle against the Greeks of Sicily and the Romans led to the First Punic War (264-241; the greatest war in Antiquity) when the Carthaginians lost Sicily to Rome. This led to Carthage’s decline – and not even a second Punic War saved the day. In 146 BC, after a Third Punic War, the Romans sacked Carthage and although they swore never to rebuild the city, they eventually re-founded it - to great prosperity.

Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and since the 19th century, considerable archaeological activity has unearthed some truly spectacular early Punic artefacts and Roman, Byzantine, and Vandal buildings. As the highlight of Tunisia’s many cultural tours, Carthage attracts thousands of tourists and historians with its imposing columns, monuments, intricate mosaics and sculptures. Several important Christian authors lived in Carthage from Tertullian and Cyprian to Donatus, however the most famous in Late Antiquity was Augustine who established a small school in Carthage (376-383).

Other than an enormous wealth of archaeological treasures, Carthage boasts two scenic stone-wall harbours, connected by a narrow canal. The Byrsa Hill - high above the harbours - is the site of a walled citadel that once formed Carthage’s principal military installation. Today it offers jaw-dropping views out across white-washed buildings and tree tops and the turquoise Mediterranean sea beyond.

TUNIS

With its glorious mix of architectural styles, broad boulevards and skinny riddle of alleyways criss-crossed, in part, by tramways Tunis embodies the spirit, verve and heritage of southern and northern Mediterranean. The city’s 9th century Medina no longer has its old, stone walls but the tapered streets, souks, mosques, and historic structures remain as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In sharp contrast to the ancient quarter’s disorientating twist of thin passageways, the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) of Tunis boasts a neat, orderly grid-style layout and colonial elegance built by the French. In the centre of the capital, more-recent revitalisation has brought fresh glamour and renovation to its fine art nouveau theatres, Franco-Arabic market buildings and Colonial cathedrals built in Roman Byzantine style. Now that the area around tree-lined Avenue Bourguiba, which runs from the TGM train station to the main entrance to the medina, is largely pedestrian it boasts the elegance and pizzazz of a café-lined Parisian boulevard. Visitors keen to yield to the glorious hubbub of Tunis can pick up free maps from the Ville Nouvelle tourist office – some with first-class walking itineraries of the chaotic Medina and its bewildering maze of backstreets. To escape the afternoon heat of the city, grab a seat on the shady terrace of the Belvedere Park café terrace or seek out one of Tunis’ well-maintained museums such as the Dar Ben Abdallah, the Musée National du Bardo.

CARTHAGE

Set on a picturesque promontory extending out into the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Tunis, Carthage ranks amongst the world’s greatest cities of antiquity. At just 9 miles from central Tunis, Carthage may have almost been absorbed by the capital’s sprawling suburbs but is very much another world.

As one of the most important archaeological sites ever discovered, Carthage was colonised by Phoenician merchants around 814 BC and fast became a master of the Mediterranean's maritime trade. It became the centre of a powerful empire after the fall of its mother-city Tyre in 575. An almost perennial struggle against the Greeks of Sicily and the Romans led to the First Punic War (264-241; the greatest war in Antiquity) when the Carthaginians lost Sicily to Rome. This led to Carthage’s decline – and not even a second Punic War saved the day. In 146 BC, after a Third Punic War, the Romans sacked Carthage and although they swore never to rebuild the city, they eventually re-founded it - to great prosperity.

Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and since the 19th century, considerable archaeological activity has unearthed some truly spectacular early Punic artefacts and Roman, Byzantine, and Vandal buildings. As the highlight of Tunisia’s many cultural tours, Carthage attracts thousands of tourists and historians with its imposing columns, monuments, intricate mosaics and sculptures. Several important Christian authors lived in Carthage from Tertullian and Cyprian to Donatus, however the most famous in Late Antiquity was Augustine who established a small school in Carthage (376-383).

Other than an enormous wealth of archaeological treasures, Carthage boasts two scenic stone-wall harbours, connected by a narrow canal. The Byrsa Hill - high above the harbours - is the site of a walled citadel that once formed Carthage’s principal military installation. Today it offers jaw-dropping views out across white-washed buildings and tree tops and the turquoise Mediterranean sea beyond.