Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Our fist stop after Tozeur was 330 km (205 miles) later at Sbeitla.
Sbeitla is a small town in north-central Tunisia. Nearby are the Roman ruins of Sufetula, containing the best preserved Forum temples in Tunisia. More of Sbeitla here

The ruins were amazingly well preserved if you consider that they date from the year 300 !

The top of a column

and the remains of a baptismal font.

I noticed that wherever I go the Romains have been there before, even when I was on holidays in Egypt

We continued our trip direction Kairouan, the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia. Referred to as the Islamic Cultural Capital, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded by the Arabs around 670.  it became an important centre for Islamic and Quranic learning, and thus attracting a large number of Muslims from various parts of the world, next only to Mecca and Medina. The holy Mosque of Uqba is situated in the city. It is considered by many Muslims to be Islam's fourth holiest city. The holy Mosque of Uqba is situated in the city.  (more about history here)

We just could take a glimpse inside, I didn't want to take pictures of the people who prayed. I don't like unrespectful tourists.

Again some of us were not dressed to visit a mosque which is also a church. They were asked to cover their shoulders and those in shorts had to wear a kaftan or a large scarf.

which gave this amazing fashion show.

After this short visit, of course in the afternoon heat, as our guide had mixed up the visits, we finally visited the the Barber's mosque which is a veneration place for a companion of the prophet Mohamed, who, according to a legend, had saved for himself three hairs of Mohamed's beard, hence the edifice's name. The sepulture place is accessed from a cloister-like court with richly decorated ceramics and stuccoes. History here Barbers Mosque

The inside court

with beautiful tiles and mosaics

The guardians room

and the room where the 3 beard hairs are kept. No guarantee, because our rather ignorant guide told us this.

I discovered a wedding in a corner of the enormous court yard and asked if I could take some pictures. The women were very friendly and invited me to take as many pictures as I wanted. The bride was surrounded by the female family members and friends,

Her head was covered, but that didn't bother the others, they just lifted the hood to give her a kiss. And I could take a picture of the bride. They even asked me to stay after the ceremony for the wedding feast !  Unfortunately I had to follow my group, to watch a boring carpet presentation !

While the bride waited, the notary prepared the wedding contract together with the family males, fathers, brothers and the groom ! It all was very relax !

We finished our visits with the Aghlabid Basins, that means we just jumped out of the bus to take pictures, and read later what it was. Because of the heat, our catastrophe guide was "out of work" forgot to explain and slept the rest of the trip peacefully with the microphone as pacifier in his mouth. The Tunisian Travel Service had made a big deal with him.

We saw the two basins called the Aghlabid Basins which were restored in 1969. These two pools (originally there were more) stored water for the Aghlabid palace which occupied the site of the present-day cemetery which we haven't seen. The water was brought by an aqueduct 36km/ 22mi away. The smaller basin was a settling tank, from which the water flowed into the larger one, which had a capacity of 50,000cu.m/11 million gallons. I don't know for what it is used now, as I suppose a cimetary doesn't need so much water.

Before we finally arrived exhausted in our hotel, we had to visit again a carpet shop (business is business) , which fortunately was very beautiful and I admired more the architecture than the carpets. Here again, we were offered tea and air conditionning !

The day ended with a nice supper in a beautiful hotel.


Linens and Royals said...

Amazing tour, you are a very interesting tour guide, thank you. I wish the Romans had visited here and left behind such interesting ruins.
Love the bride and hope she can see through her veil. I think she is not too much different to western brides. I had a veil over my face when I married, so did Cathrerine when she married William.

Chrissy Brand said...

What a wonderful post- thanmks so much- looks like a place I must visit. Lovely photos.

Unknown said...

Great tour!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

LindyLouMac said...

An interesting virtual tour as always Gattina and I love the photo of the oleander next to the ruins.

Unknown said...

I've never gone South of Spain:) Great and interesting pics of the culture there, Gattina! Thanks for sharing:)

Joyful said...

An interesting tour!

Farida said...

Wow, these photos are great! I only see them in books or magazines. Thank you for sharing this part of the world to us.

I'd love to get to know you more through your future posts. Would you like us to follow each other? Take care :D


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I love writing, traveling and photography. . I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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