Tunisia - Carthage, Romans and Vandals (and Doha to start)

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RooFlyer

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(This may seem familiar to some; I started a similar thread some time ago but stopped after a few posts when there was a terrorist attack on Tunis - thought it was time to start again, as I don't think there is another TR on Tunisia.)

A few years back I was doing some work in Morocco and stopped over in Tunis on my way over to check out the local attitude to mining and exploration. At the time, people pursed their lips a bit at the thought of my going to Tunisia - its bordered by Algeria to the west and SW and Libya to the east and SE and had suffered a terrorist attack a few years previously (and a prominent one since. But I did some research, found it hard to resist.

Tunisia was where the 'Arab spring' started. Its a reasonably liberal Islamic country.

I went across on QR J. Itwas a night flight and the bed was comfortable and the service OK. I flew QR321 MEL to Doha. There was an unavoidable 19 hour stop-over in Doha until the QT flight to Tunis, from about 06:00 to 01:45. QR at the time had a stopover deal on offer:

You may be eligible for transit hotel accommodation in Doha, if you meet the following criteria:
* Are travelling with Qatar Airways,
* There are no Qatar Airways flights with immediate connection (for the required date of travel date of travel irrespective of fare level or availability,
* You have a transit time of between 8 and 24 hours at Doha International Airport
* The type and level of airfare that you pay will govern whether you will receive the service free of charge (complimentary) or if you must pay to receive this service.

'May' turned out to be the operative word. Flights ex Australia didn't qualify. Not happy, Jan!

In the end I bought a day at the 4* Oryx Rotana hotel, including lunch and dinner, visas and transfers for US$125, through the airline. Still not a bad deal, but ...

At DOH airport, I was met pre immigration and offered a cool drink while we did paperwork. Then a young lady escorted me through immigration and customs and took me to the Merc which then took me to the hotel. All very easy. At the hotel I was given vouchers for lunch and dinner (I was entitled to 2 meals and specified the ones I wanted).

Freshened up ... now what? I hadn't planned anything, but a hotel car was available for a couple of hours at b-all cost, so I got the guy to drive me round a bit. Doha is a bit like Dubai, with its show-off architecture, but much smaller (or so it appeared to me).

This is the museum of Islamic Art (very cubic...) and the view to the city from it. It was a searing hot and humid day, so I didn't spend much time out of the aircon car.

Doha downtown from museum 5.jpg

Doha downtown from Corniche and dhows.jpg


One of the main mosques:

Doha mosque spire.jpg

Public art space:

Doha Realize.jpg


Downtown. I found it quite uninteresting:

Doha downtown 7.jpg

Doha downtown 6.jpg

Doha downtown 4.jpg

Doha downtown 1.jpg

Dhoa downtown.jpg
 
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RooFlyer

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So onto Tunis. I had a morning of meetings (it was part of a work trip), then I was at leisure.

I was staying at the Tunis Sheraton, which was notable to me for the fact that they allowed smoking everywhere. And it seemed everyone took advantage of this.

Its just a little out of the city, on a bit of a hill. This is the view (panorama) from the hotel. Port out to the left, then downtown.

Tunis panorama from hotel 2.jpg

There's that impressive big white building, and I discover that its the TV station.

Tunis and TV building from hotel 4.jpg


I look more closely and ... aren't those army trucks at the gate? And are they barricading the gate? Oooooops? Maybe this visit was a mistake?

Tunis TV station under guard.jpg

Nothing eventuated, and at least the telly would be OK.:cool:

I took a taxi for a look around. There's the Cathedral

Tunis cathedral (2).jpg

The old Medina:

Tunis edge of Medina 2.jpg

Most of downtown is bustling and cosmopolitan-looking. Its a former French colony, so French is the second language, but also a strong Italian influence, reflecting its neighbour to the north. This is the Place de La France.

Tunis main boulevard 2.jpg

Tunis Place de la France 4.jpg

The Tunis theatre and a café. The ladies were dressed much like in Morocco - a mix of traditional to relatively modern, with most in between. I was quite happy walking around the downtown streets and there appeared to be a fair few tourists - mainly French from what I could tell.

Tunis Place de la France 1.jpg

Tunis Place de la France 3.jpg
 

RooFlyer

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Carthage is part of Tunis, and we'll get to that fabled place next, but on a point at the edge of the city is Sidi Bou Said, a bit of an 'exclusive' enclave with views out to the Mediterranean Sea to die for.

Tunis Sidi Bou Said view Cap Bon and Marina panorama.jpg

Its very blue-and-white everywhere:

Tunis Sidi Bou Said building.jpg

Tunis Sidi Bou Said street.jpg


I haven't been to Santorini, but this scene made me thought I had:

Tunis Sidi Bou Said view 1.jpg

Tunis Sidi Bou Said view 2.jpg

More views. The marina on the left, and the President's palace right (Tunisia is a republic and gained independence from France in 1956). Carthage is just around the corner of the Palace.

Tunis Sidi Bou Said view marina.jpg

Tunis Sidi Bou Said view Presidential Palace.jpg
 
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Reading with interest. We were to visit Carthage and the Bardo Museum some years back when we were on a cruise but unfortunately it turned out we were in Tunis on the day Ramadan ended so they were closed. We ended up visiting Sidi Bou Said and part of the Medina which was open. We did pick up a (very) small silk rug which we still have.​
 
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RooFlyer

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A highlight of any trip to Tunisia would have to be a visit to the Bardo museum in Tunis where many mosaics and other artefacts from Roman occupation have been housed. It was undergoing renovation when I visited, so some parts were closed off, but still ample there to be amazed by.

This will be mainly a presentation of pics, which happily do the talking!

Something many AFFers can relate to:

Tunis Bardo mosaic wine bottle and vessel.jpg

A very large depiction of Neptune:

Tunis Bardo mosaic Neptune and horses 2.jpg

Peacock and other birds:

Tunis Bardo mosaic peacock.jpg

Detail of the peacock:
Tunis Bardo mosaic peacock detail.jpg

Naval scene:
Tunis bardo mosaic boats and fishermen.jpg

Detail from above:
Tunis Bardo mosaic fishermen detail.jpg

More detail - - now that's a crayfish!
Tunis Bardo mosaic man with crayfish.jpg

A scene from the renovated museum

Tunis Bardo mosiac gallery 1.jpg

Tunis Bardo mosaic gallery.jpg
 
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A highlight of any trip to Tunisia would have to be a visit to the Bardo museum in Tunis where many mosaics and other artefacts from Roman occupation have been housed. It was undergoing renovation when I visited, so some parts were closed off, but still ample there to be amazed by.

This will be mainly a presentation of pics, which happily do the talking!

Something many AFFers can relate to:

View attachment 107885

A very large depiction of Neptune:

View attachment 107886

Peacock and other birds:

View attachment 107887

Detail of the peacock:
View attachment 107888

Naval scene:
View attachment 107889

Detail from above:
View attachment 107890

More detail - - now that's a crayfish!
View attachment 107891

A scene from the renovated museum

View attachment 107892

View attachment 107893
Sigh :(
 

casanovawa

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Hmmm, looks interesting... S'pose i better chuck it on the to-do list... :)
 

RooFlyer

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I admit it. I was fairly drooling at the opportunity to visit Carthage (part of the Phoenician empire). Remember Hannibal? He with the elephants? He was a Carthaginian general who took his army and elephants across the Iberian Peninsula, across the alps and into Italy from the north (second Punic War c200 BC – Punici was the Roman word for Carthage). He occupied parts of Italy for 15 years but couldn’t get into Rome.

You knew you were going to get some history when you started to read this TR, didn't you? :rolleyes: Here's Hannibal’s invasion route, and return to Carthage (from Wikipedia). Now that's a Trip Report I'd like to see :cool:.

Hannibal.JPG

Hannibal and the Carthaginians were eventually defeated by the Romans and Carthage came under Roman control.

In the Third Punic War, about 150BC, after a three year siege, the Romans totally destroyed Carthage and Julius Caesar built a city on top of it about 100 years later, and it became a major Roman centre.

So, what you see at Carthage – which is essentially a sea-side suburb of Tunis – are Roman ruins, with some Carthaginian (Punic) ruins underneath. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The panorama from the Roman floor level:
Carthage Roman foundation panorama.jpg

Down the hill a bit, under the Roman foundations you see the Punic ruins

Carthage punic ruins 8.jpg

Carthage punic ruins and bay.jpg

The most significant Roman ruins are the Baths of Antonius – some of the largest baths built anywhere in the Roman Empire – and built about 150 AD.

Carthage Antoine baths panorama.jpg

Carthage Antoine baths 1.jpg

The white wall is the Presidential Palace. You can see how extensive the baths complex was by this map:

Carthage Antoine baths layout 1.jpg

The Carthage site is quite extensive (there are houses etc in and around the various ruin sites) and difficult to see it all on foot. A nice shady grove is up the hill a bit, and I discovered that soldiers with lots of guns (guarding the Presidential Palace) also like nice shady spots!! They were friendly enough but ‘discouraged’ photographs near the Palace.

Carthage Antoine baths upper avenue.jpg

There’s a museum near the main Carthage site with some mosaics (but nothing compared to the Bardo Museum) and some statues etc.

Carthage museum mosaic.jpg

Then came the Vandals; you can imagine what they did to the place! The Vandals apparently originated as a people in Scandinavia, before migrating down to the modern-day Germany/Poland area. Around 400 they were pushed by the Huns towards what is now France and Spain. Then along came the Visigoths and the Vandals crossed to northern Africa and made their way to Roman Carthage, which they sacked and occupied. Not long after that they sacked Rome itself.

(Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Huns and Carthage, all in one paragraph :) :cool: )

The final invaders were the French, who built a church on top of the lot!

Carthage french basilica.jpg
 

RooFlyer

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I organised a couple of free days, so arranged a driver and headed out of Tunis for Dougga, a well preserved Roman Town a few hours away::

Dougga map.JPG

The situation is stunning. Dougga sits atop a small hill amongst olive groves and has never been over-built:

Dougga from road.jpg


Dougga from road 3.jpg

Dougga was established 6th century BC, with Greek and Phoenician (Carthaginian/Punic) origins. Excavations have revealed structures dating from these times.

But what there is seen today is overwhelmingly Roman. Streets:

Dougga street.jpg

and theatres:

Dougga House of Omnia maybe.jpg


Dougga theatre and Capitol.jpg
 

OZDUCK

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Looks fascinating - I did note that the street was not rutted like Pompeii. And no-one else in sight!

Did you have some type of guide book to interpret the site or was your own expertise enough?
 

RooFlyer

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I claim no expertise :). I think I had a Lonely Planet and purchased a guiding pamphlet at the entrance.

This trip was in 2012 and I recall it was one of several trips that year that turned my eyes - and future trips - away from Western Europe (the other was to the Czech Republic and Morocco. Since then I've been trending further and further east.
 

OZDUCK

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I claim no expertise :). I think I had a Lonely Planet and purchased a guiding pamphlet at the entrance.

This trip was in 2012 and I recall it was one of several trips that year that turned my eyes - and future trips - away from Western Europe (the other was to the Czech Republic and Morocco. Since then I've been trending further and further east.

Thanks for that.
 

RooFlyer

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Oudna (or Uthina) was settled by the Romans about 50 BC and is easily accessible from Tunis. The Zaghouan aqueduct has a well preserved section just outside it. The aqueduct at 132km long was one of the longest in the roman empire, and supplied the coastal settlement (at old Carthage) with water.

Near Oudna aqueduct 4.jpg

One of the main features at Oudna is its amphitheatre; abt 115x90m

Oudna theatre 1.jpg

Oudna theatre 2.jpg

This is the Capitol, a temple of sorts:

Oudna Capitol 1.jpg

Oudna Capitol looking towards farmhouse.jpg

Views of the countryside:

Oudna Capitol looking towards theatre.jpg
 
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RooFlyer

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Finishing off ...

We got stuck behind some hay trucks, which provided some entertainment as long as we didn't get too close! (Check the guy up ahead...)

leaning.JPG





Hay truck 2.JPG

You can see the structure of the aqueduct here ... fully enclosed.

Aqueduct.JPG


Aqueduct 1.JPG

Back to Tunis; its a busy, but not oppressive city like many in Africa (Cairo, Casablanca). I liked it and would love to go back for another visit.

Tunis Place de la France 2.jpg

Tunis at sundown from hotel 2.jpg

... and that's all on this one.
 
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