El Haouaria

El Haouaria lies at the tip of the Cap Bon Peninsula, 110 kms (69 miles) from Tunis. Its main attraction, the Roman quarry caves, are dramatically set at the ocean’s edge. Across the water is the mountainous island of Zembra, and its tiny off-shoot, Zembretta. There are said to be up to 100 caves, with 19 accessible to the public. The caves were first quarried by the Carthaginians in the 6C BC using an estimated 30,000 manacled black slaves from southern Africa, many of whom died and were buried here. The soft orange limestone was highly prized for carved decoration in Roman and Byzantine buildings, and used in Carthage, for the Roman amphitheatre at El Djem and other places. The largest cave is Ghar el Kebir, where a camel has been carved out of the rock at the entrance. The caves are a couple of kilometres beyond the town; follow signs for Grottes Romaines.

The village of El Haouaria is known for its falconry. Young peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks are caught on the cliffs during their migration in March and April and trained by the villagers to catch partridge and quail during the annual competitions in June. They are released after the event, which takes place around the Grottes Romaines.