The Ultimate Guide To 13 Unusual Highlights In Tunisia – Mediterranean Sea Chronicles 2
Port of Bizerte, Tunisia
Strategically located at the center of Mediterranean Sea is Tunisia’s Port of Bizerte. It plays a very important role in the social, economic and cultural life of the city of Bizerte here in Tunisia. Because of its auspicious location on the Gibraltar-Suez trade route, it is a very convenient port of call for ships going to Southern Europe. This harbor exports fish, phosphates, iron ore, and cereals. An oil refinery opened in 1964 and is the main industry of Bizerte, Tunisia.
Republic of Tunisia is Africa’s northernmost country. It is bordered by Algeria, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. Of all the countries in the Atlas Mountain range, Tunisia is the smallest. The capital city is Tunis. And because of its accessibility to the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia has attracted numerous conquerors throughout the ages. Its link to the great Sahara Desert has brought the Berbers to settle in the region. The Phoenicians began to arrive in 12 B.C. and they founded the city of Carthage. This city rose into a trading power during the ancient times, which competed with the Roman Empire. They fought in 3 Punic (Phoenician)Wars with Rome finally defeating Carthage and occupied Tunisia for 800 years. In 697 B.C. the Ottoman Empire invaded the country and introduced Islam. France colonized Tunisia in 1881 until the country gained independence in 1954. Both Arabic and French are used as languages but the locals understand and speak basic English as well.
While I was under contract with M/T Adafera in 2012 we traveled to Tunisia for 2 times discharging oil at their refinery. This country produces 41,634 barrels of crude oil a day, ranking 68th among the OPEC nations. Adafera crude carrier has been chartered by V. Ships Norway, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines. Tunisia belongs to the Maghreb states with Libya, Algeria and Morocco. And like Morocco, it is also a tolerant Arab country. It stabilizes traditional Islamic culture with contemporary influences. One of the most famous destinations of North Africa, Tunisia offers a diverse scale of experiences to appreciate. However, since it is a Muslim country, tourists especially women are expected to dress and behave conservatively in respect to their religion. The use of ¨monsieur¨ and ¨madame¨ are recommended to be used in conversations with the locals. Haggling is alright in souks (markets) but expect shorter store hours during the Ramadan. Most eating is done by hand in restaurants but use only your right hand . There are fascinating facts about this North African country as tackled in the ultimate guide to 13 unusual highlights in Tunisia.
Carthage, Once a Great City of Seafaring Phoenicians is Now a Part of Tunis, Tunisia.
To the Greeks, she was Dido (also called Alyssa), the exiled princess from the ancient city of Tyre and founded Carthage. Under her reign, it grew as a major commercial and maritime power. A great city of seafaring Phoenicians along the Mediterranean Sea in 814 B.C.E. (before the common era). In its heyday, Carthage rivaled Rome in all its glory. The Romans razed it to the ground after 3 bloody Punic (Phoenician) Wars. The remnants of this once powerful ancient city are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site found on the outskirts of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, this sophisticated civilization introduced the writing system and republic form of government into the world.
“Inshah-Allah” Is A Part of Everyday Life Here In Tunisia
Allah provides, Allah wills. Insha-Allah, an ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia is an awesome reminder that tomorrow is not promised and whatever comes along you have to face and accept it. Inshah-Allah, a part of daily life in Tunisia. Is the souk open on Monday, the first day of Ramadan? Maybe yes, maybe no, Inshah-Allah. If you do not know the answer, here in Tunisia they place the fate on Allah (God). He knows, you don’t. Inshah-Allah, a cue of how fragile life is. An acknowledgement of how small we are through the eyes of our Creator. Inshah-Allah, perhaps the most valiant words in all the languages. Inshah-Allah.
El Djem Amphitheatre is The 3rd Largest Roman Ruin in The World.
It is the country’s biggest attraction and considered as one of the most magnificent example of Roman architecture in North Africa. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia. Located at El Djem City, this amphitheatre was once the center stage of bloody fights among lions and prisoners during the Roman times. Built in 238 A.D. it is actually the 3rd largest Roman ruin in the world after Colloseum and the ruined theater of Capua in Italy. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site it is also nicknamed the “African Coliseum.” El Djem was once a Roman settlement called Thysdrus, next to Carthage. They built the amphitheatre under Emperor Godius for gladiator shows and chariot races. With a seating capacity of 35,000 spectators cheering on lions and brave men meeting their fate, most of its parts are still intact today. This structure is a sample of the grandeur and scope of the Roman Empire during the ancient times. It was used for filming some of the fighting scenes from the Oscar winning movie Gladiators and as a location for the Nike ad in 1996.
The Widow Wears Red, The Color of Mourning in Tunisia
Colors have strong impact on our emotions. They serve as a means of communication to deliver important messages. In the other parts of the world, red may signify love, power and passion. In Asia for example, it is the color of good luck, happiness and good fortune. But here in North Africa, it means death and mourning. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, red represents bloodshed and struggle. If a love one dies, red symbolizes grief in this side of the world.
The Punic Town of Kerkouane And it’s Necropolis
Located in northeastern Tunisia near Cape Bon is the ancient Punic (Phoenician) city of Kerkouane. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, this town has been abandoned during the 1st Punic War (250 B.C.E.) and was never rebuilt by the Romans. Excavations in later centuries reveal a necropolis. This is an ancient cemetery used by the Phoenician settlers in Kerkouane. The necropolis makes up of a series of vaults built on a seaside hill. Discovered were also large storage of buried possessions in the tombs. The necropolis bears invaluable testimony to Phoenicians’ burial structures of the period. These tombs are scattered throughout the hills at the tip of Cape Bon in Tunisia.
Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back) Featured The Ghorfas of Matmata
Matmata, it is one of Tunisia’s most weird landscapes. This is an area of underground houses dug into the rock. If you are a Star Wars fan, you have seen Matmata several times. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, one of the houses was used as Luke Skywalker’s home in the films. These Berber underground dwellings in the country’s Djebel Duhar region were built centuries ago to store grain. The Berbers were nomadic tribes and they built underground shelters to protect their food. The ghorfas are created by digging deep into the rock walls and connected to each other by passageways. Famous as a tourist spot and made more popular by Star Wars, the underground houses of Matmata stand witness to the rich culture of the Berber people.
The Town of Tataouine Was the Model of Star Wars’ Planet Tataoine.
In Berber language, it means “mouth of the springs.” A film maker’s (and of course also a tourist destination) in southern Tunisia, Tataouine town has been the model of Star Wars’ planet Tataoine. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, it served as an inspiration to American film director and producer George Lucas in creating Tataoine. This is the fictional home planet of Anakin Skywalker and his son, Luke in the Star Wars. The windswept buildings were built by the Berbers for protection from raids along the Sahara Desert. Then during the French colonization, Tataouine was used a penal military unit from 1892-1951.
The Seaside Town of Bizerte Was The Last French Citadel When Tunisia Won Independence in 1956.
A coastal gem of Tunisia‘s north end, Bizerte was the last bastion of French power when the country gained independence in 1956. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, this city has preserved many architectural and artistic elements of its former imperialist. Bizerte is the least Tunisian and most French city in this country. One of the architectural delights of Bizerte is the kasbah (fort) which (pictured above) guards entry to the old port of the city.
Have a Good Time, Have a Fricasse Donut
C’est si bon. Oui en effet. Tunisia has a lot to offer especially if you are a foodie. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia. fricasse is a savory fried donut stuffed with tuna, potatoes, harissa (a spicy sauce), olives and eggs. Sometimes preserved lemon (citron beldi) is added. Have a good time, have a fricasse donut.
In the Island of Djerba, Muslims And Jews Can Proudly Say The World Is One
In Homer’s Odyssey Djerba was mentioned as the island of the “lotus eaters.” An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, Djerba is actually the island where Jewish settlements stand side by side with Muslim quarters. It ranks 4th among the fastest growing attraction in the world. Not only that, it also known as one of the best ecological destinations and bustling with cultural opulence. Home to both the Jewish El Ghriba synagogue (about 20 centuries old) and the Ibadi Muslims who are regarded as the most tolerant to other religions. The port of Ajim in the southwest corner of the island was used for filming of Star Wars (again) Obi-Wan Kenobi’s house.
The Colors of Chott El Djerid
Also known as the “lagoon of the land of palms” Chott El Djerid is a salt lake in southern Tunisia with many colors. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia this lake near the city of Douz is described as mysteriously alluring. Located at the middle of an unforgiving desert, the extensive salt plain of Chott El Djerid hides the source of underground water and most of the year it is dry. The area has a different range of dreamy colors due to the high iron content of the lake. In winter it floods with rainwater. Chott El Djerid is like a landscape from another world. It is the gateway to the Sahara Desert and also known for its pink flamingo population.
The Classical Blue And White Town of Sidi Bou Said
A visit to Tunisia is not complete without a look at the blue and white doors of Sidi Bou Said. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, this charming village has white buildings with blue doors and lattice windows. The French artist, Rodolph d’ Erlanger introduced the theme when he settled here in the 1920s. Known as an artist hub, Sidi Bou Said is impeccably picturesque. It is a favorite getaway destination for locals and visitors alike.
It is Where the Addax Antelope and Gazelles Play at Bou-Hedma National Park.
Situated 85 km east of Gafsa along the Tunisian mountain ranges of the Sahara Atlas is Bou-Hedma National Park. It is the home of the rare addax antelope and gazelles. An ultimate guide to an unusual highlight in Tunisia, this national park is also an important archeological heritage site. It has ancient remains of Roman villages and the Roman bridge of Wadi Bautista. Endangered species of flora and fauna are well preserved in the site.
From fascinating seaside towns to grand ancient ruins and rolling sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, Tunisia indeed has it all of North Africa’s beauty. When the world is ready to explore again, it will be the right time to plan your trip to Tunisia as well. Insha-Allah. Bonne chance pour votre voyage.