Introduction to Tunis

Tunis on a mapTunisia is known for its beach resorts, and for its desert vistas which make breathtaking film sets. It is less well-known for its Roman remains, for its orchards and vineyards, and for its delightful capital, Tunis.

Over 3000 years old, Tunis today is the nation’s focal point yet remains a surprisingly small and relaxed city with more the feel – and size — of a large town. The pulsing heart of the town is the walled medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the sounds and smells of the Arabic souks mingle with the cries of souvenir sellers as visitors brave the maze of streets.

Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul, Tunis
Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul,

Step out of the medina, though, and you are in a city where Africa meets Europe, and Tunis’s French heritage is evident in the wide main street, the colonial architecture, the patisseries and the restaurant menus. Many people speak French, and the city is a blend of European sophistication with Arabic exuberance. As the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer in one of the city’s many mosques, and tourists wonder whether they really do want to buy a carpet, young football fans make their cheerful way through the city, and business men relax in cafés with the latest editions of French, British and German newspapers.

Tunis also offers visitors its wonderful Roman heritage, with the remains of Carthage, the astonishing beauty of the Roman mosaics in the Bardo Museum and the easy opportunity to visit the Roman ruins at places such as Thuburbo Majus, Utica and most wonderful of all, Dougga. Only 110kms from Tunis, this beautifully-preserved Roman city is a captivating place and yet another aspect of this part of North Africa.

When sated with culture, the visitor has another option: to relax on the beach. Easily reached by train or taxi from central Tunis, beach resort suburbs such as Gammarth and La Marsa have modern 5-star hotels and long stretches of golden sand. They are yet another piece in the mosaic that makes up the surprising city of Tunis.

For a free online guide to Tunis in one page visit the Focus Guides website.