Excursions in Tunis

Excursions in Tunis during a Mediterranean cruise

Carthage and Sidi Bou Said Tour

from €165 per unit

According to legend, Carthage was founded by the Phoenician Queen Elissa (better known as Dido) sometime around 813 BCE. The city (in modern-day Tunisia, North Africa) was originally known as Kart-hadasht (new city) to distinguish it from the older Phoenician city of Utica nearby. The Greeks called the city Karchedon and the Romans turned this name into Carthago. Originally a small port on the coast, established only as a stop for Phoenician traders to re-supply or repair their ships, Carthage grew to become the most powerful city in the Mediterranean before the rise of Rome.

After the fall of the great Phoenician city of Tyre to Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, those Tyrians who were able to escape fled to Carthage with whatever wealth they had. Since many whom Alexander spared were those rich enough to buy their lives, these refugees landed in the city with considerable means and established Carthage as the new centre of Phoenician trade. The Carthaginians then drove the native Africans from the area, enslaved many of them, and exacted tribute from the rest. From a small town on the coast, the city grew in size and grandeur with enormous estates covering miles of acreage. Not even one hundred years passed before Carthage was the richest city in the Mediterranean. The aristocrats lived in palaces, the less affluent in modest but attractive homes, while tribute and tariffs regularly increased the city’s wealth on top of the lucrative business in trade. The harbour was immense, with 220 docks, gleaming columns which rose around it in a half-circle, and was ornamented with Greek sculpture. The Carthaginian trading ships sailed daily to ports all around the Mediterranean Sea while their navy, supreme in the region, kept them safe and, also, opened new territories for trade and resources through conquest.

Sidi Bou Said is a village of international fame. It is known to be a world-wide heritage of the UNESCO. It is situated on the gulf of Tunis. Sidi Bou Saïd is a place that reflects the delicacy of its inhabitants due to its architecture.
The village steeped in an almost perfect harmony with it two symbolic colors: blue and white, which are imposed by the famous Baron Rodolphed’ Erlanger. The latter, encouraged the Bey to promulgate a law in order to protect the country, in 1915.
The small Bordj, that sheltered the Mourabitounes in the 9th century, stretched over the centuries to be transformed into a village sheltering the noblemen of Tunis. This expansion began in the beginning of the 17th century, after the Bey Hussien Ben Ali constructed a mosque whose monumental entry represents the current “Cafe des Nattes”. Then, Mahmoud Bey built his summer residence there, and new houses began to form the new village.
From the second half of the 20th century, a picturesque image stuck to Sidi Bou Saïd: The zaouïa of Sidi Chabâane was transformed into a Moorish coffee, some houses became luxury restaurants, like Dar Zarrouk, and the Souks became Bzzars. The “Kharja” of Sidi Bou Said celebrated every year, which became a kind of attraction for the tourists.

TUNIS MEDINA (OLD CITY)

from €165 per unit

Tunis (Arabic: تونس‎ Tūnis; Amazigh: Tunes) is the capital of Tunisia. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 651,183 as of 2013. The greater metropolitan area holds some 2,300,000 inhabitants.

Situated on a large Mediterranean Sea gulf (the Gulf of Tunis), behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette (Halq al Wadi), the city extends along the coastal plain and the hills that surround it. At the centre of more modern development (from the colonial era and later) lies the old medina. Beyond this district lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, and Sidi Bou Said.

The medina is found at the centre of the city: a dense agglomeration of alleys and covered passages, full of intense scents and colours, boisterous and active trade, and a surfeit of goods on offer ranging from leather to plastic, tin to the finest filigree, tourist souvenirs to the works of tiny crafts shops.

Just through the Sea Gate (also known as the Bab el Bahr and the Porte de France) begins the modern city, or Ville Nouvelle, transversed by the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba (often referred to by popular press and travel guides as "the Tunisian Champs-Élysées"), where the colonial-era buildings provide a clear contrast to smaller, older structures. As the capital city of the country, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life; it is also the centre of the country's commercial activity. The expansion of the Tunisian economy in recent decades is reflected in the booming development of the outer city where one can see clearly the social challenges brought about by rapid modernization in Tunisia.