While traveling through Tunisia, we managed to check out Tunis, Sidi Bou Said, Teboulba, Kairouan, Sousse, Monastir and Mahdia. And, then there was Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage listed city which deserves at least a full day to enjoy its charms.
Some people try to hit Carthage and Sidi Bou Said in one day but I’d suggest dedicating more time to Carthage and its scattered Roman ruin interspersed with Mosques and modern day culture.
Carthage was first founded by the Phoenician princess Elyssa-Dido and it brought African to the forefront of history at the time. The Punic Carthage of Hannon was queen of the seas and Hannibal’s Carthage ruled the world during its shining hour of glory before it vanished. It was Augustus who built Roman Carthage as the capital of Proconsular Africa.
After the Roman era, Carthage was conquered by the Arabs, who eventually decided to ditch it in favour of setting up a city in Tunis. Carthage was left in ruins but it always remained an important watch post for Tunisia given its supreme location on the coast, on the edge of a peninsula.
Carthage is an old Roman City, yet has modern Tunisian buildings and inhabitants surrounding the ancient ruins. The trains to get to Carthage are slow, hot, packed and not very reliable. You should be able to get a ticket from Tunis Nord/Marine to Carthage Hannibal and it takes about 5 stops to get to Carthage.
Mount Byrsa — from here on this hill in the middle of the town you can see the old church, the museum and the viewpoint.
Cathedral — in a Muslim country, it is an extreme surprise to see such a well maintained, striking and magnificent Cathedral. Here at Mount Byrsa the Cathedral is part of Carthage’s Christian history.
Carthage Museum is worth a stop – it gives you full access to the museum and grounds. Once inside the museum, check out the relics before heading to admire the marvellous views all the way back to Tunis.
Touring the museum at Carthage
The Roman Ampitheatre is an old roman ruins with a pool of water in the middle. The condition is poor but you get an idea of what was once here. Then, head to the Carthage Seafront, where there are lovely views and beaches. Gaze out at the Mediterranean and take it all in.
Roman Villas — you can walk through the ruins of the Roman Villas – they might check you have the 10 Denar ticket at the entrance though (they didn’t check mine). It’s like a lost city on the hills and inside the grounds, there is also a tunnel full of relics and mosaics.
Roman Villa ruins at Carthage
Quartier Magon — probably the least impressive Roman Ruins of this top 11, is the Quartier Magon down by the sea.
Theatre Romain — the ampitheatre on the edge of town was the crap one – this one is closer to the town centre. Don’t let the name fool you – the Roman Theatre is much grander, bigger, well maintained and cooler.
Parc Archeologique — down by the seafront is a park and more scattered Roman Ruins.
Carthage Mosque — bring yourself back to reality and up to date by checking out the Mosque in Carthage. It’s up the hill from the Roman Villas and sits clean and pristine high above the ruins. You can also view the Minaret of the Mosque from the top of Byrsa Hill.
Thermes D’Antonin is a series of Roman Ruins which were once bathing quarters by the Mediterranean Sea.