Thursday, March 28, 2013


The hometown of the first Tunisian president, Habib Bourguiba, was going to be the capital of Tunisia in the 1970 and 1980′s. Bourguiba built a summer presidential palace here that was completely abandoned after his overthrow in 1987. Nowadays Monastir is a destination point for foreign visitors thanks to its airport built in the 1980s. In the summer time aircraft belonging to big tour operators can be seen landing and taking off.
Monastir Ribat, view of the watchtower
Monastir is derived from the Latin term Monasterium, monastery in modern day English.  The Mausoleum of Sidi Ghdemsi and other ruins are visible from Monastir’s marina.  Arab invaders built a monastery-fortress referred to as a Ribat on top of the ruins of christian monastery. The Arab ribat is known as the Ibn Jaad ribat.

The main attraction of Monastir is the ribat built at the end of the eighth century when the governor of Ifriqiya (the name of Tunisia during the middle ages) was named by the Abbasid (a monarchy that ruled a large part of the Islamic world) from Baghdad. It was a part of numerous fortresses that line the North African coast from Alexandria to Tangier. They used to communicate with one another using fire signals lit from their respective towers. The ribat was inhabited by Muslim warrior monks and served as a refuge for the town population during the Byzantine assaults. When the Mediterranean Sea fell under the control of the Arab Navy, the role of the Ribat  was limited to religious and educational purposes, but starting in the sixteenth century the ribat regained its military use when the rulers modified the structure with canons, some of which are still present today.
Jewellery from Ribat Museum

The prayer hall in the first floor of the Ribat houses the museum of Islamic Arts “Ali Bourguiba Museum” and exhibits collections of Egyptian and Tunisian religious manuscripts as well as funeral stelaes from Monastir with Kufic inscriptions and ancient jewelry.
Cost of a visit is: 5 TND for an entrance ticket and 1 TND for a camera ticket.
Some 40 meters from the ribat, a large monument, the Bourguiba Mausoleum was built in 1963 in the western corner of the official cemetery of Monastir. It’s topped with a gilded dome surrounded by two green domes. Two minarets were raised at the entrance both 25 meters long. The mausoleum houses the tomb of the first Tunisian president in the central room with marble graves and his family members are buried in the adjoining rooms. On display in a small museum close by, are many of the belongings of Tunisia’s founding President. Visiting the mausoleum is free of charge for Tunisians and foreigners.
The main entrance of Bourguiba Mausoleum

Bourguiba died in April 2000, two days later he was buried in his hometown and many presidents attended his funeral including the then French President Jaques Chirac and the then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafet.
For  ten years popular celebrations of Bourguiba’s death were banned by the Ben Ali regime. As a result of last year’s uprising Monastirians were able to commemorate the anniversary of his death for the first time. Statues of Bourguiba are scattered throughout the city.
Statue of Bourguiba as a child in downtown Monastir

Unfortunately, the old town of Monastir was demolished in the 1960′s when Bourguiba decided to modernize the country.  Subsequently the Medina lost its old authenticity and charm.
Just off the coast lies one of the most beautiful islands in all of Tunisia, Kuriat. In the summer local travel agencies organize small cruises to the island. Kuriat is quite rocky and covered by sand. It plays an important role in the conservation of the ecosystem. It’s an important stop for migrant birds, such as the slender billed gull. In addition it’s a good area for several breeds of sea turtles to nest, among others being the loggerhead sea turtle. To visit the island you can contact a local travel agency or the reception of any hotel.
The hotels of Monastir are quite large and luxurious but far from the town and attractions. Supermarkets and coffee shops are rare. Locals think that tourists don’t contribute to the economic growth of the town because a large amount of the visitors stay exclusively in the hotels especially after the introduction of the “all inclusive” hotel.
After the catastrophic season of 2011, estimates for this season are optimistic, said Mr Hichem Nouira , a native of Monastir and hotel manager. He also said that the new government decided to make the old Presidential Palace a museum for Bourguiba to contribute to the development of tourism in Monastir.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Funs And Memories At Happy Land Dah Dah

Are you searching for a place in Tunis where you can have fun with your kids? Or do you want to have fun like you were a kid again?
Happy Land DahDah gives you the opportunity to spend a lovely time with the whole family. Since its opening in 1995, many families have visited the fun park to spend an afternoon or evening relaxing and enjoying the rides. School holidays and Eid Alfitr (the day that marks the end of Ramadan) mark the highest number of visitors.
The Entrance of DahDah
Tunisia Live recently went to the fun park to enjoy the rides and talk to locals and visitors about why they liked going there.
Anis, a local resident, said that he has liked Dah Dah “since the park’s opening.”
“I often used to come and spend hours with my friends. Now I’m 35-years-old and I come with my wife and my son,” he said.
For Mr. and Mrs. Ben Arbia, a Tunisian couple living in Paris and on holidays in Tunis, visiting Dah Dah brought back happy memories. “We still remember the first time we met here, fourteen years ago when we were in high school,” said Mr Ben Arbia. “Now we live in France but when we visit Tunisia we come to the park and relive the best moments of our lives.”
Although entry to the park is free, tickets must be purchased to enjoy the many games and rides scattered throughout the park. The price of one ticket is one dinar while a booklet of twelve tickets is ten dinars. Each game and ride costs from one to three tickets.
Roller Coaster Dah Dah
Among the most magnificent rides is the Ferris Wheel- worth three tickets. It gives you the opportunity to see the whole city of Tunis including the airport, the mountains, the hills and its huge lake with the islet of Chickly in the middle.
Other rides allow you to live amazing adventures like the dream boat and the roller coaster. They cost between two and three tickets.
Kids have also are able to enjoy the experience. To the left of the entrance is a space dedicated to children. Bouncing games, trampolines and mini bumper car games are available. Some of these games are located in a covered hall, while others are outside.
Restaurants and shops are also available. You can find them in the entrance of the park, and the price of food and drinks is reasonable. For example a cafĂ© direct – a coffee with milk – costs no more than two dinars. Billiards and bowling are also nearby.
Happy Land Dah Dah is situated in the main street of Berges Du Lac and can be reached by taxi that costs around six dinars (from Tunis downtown) or by bus number 28 that drops you off in front of the entrance.
The park is open from 2pm until 10pm and until midnight on Saturdays and during summer.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ahmed Jaouadi: Rome Never Dies; From Thysdrus To El jem

Ahmed Jaouadi: Rome Never Dies; From Thysdrus To El jem: In the small village of El jem, which has only 18,000 inhabitants, a monument stands to recall its old glory when it was the Roman town ...

Ahmed Jaouadi: The Rise Of Islamic Art in Tunisia (Part1)

Ahmed Jaouadi: The Rise Of Islamic Art in Tunisia (Part1): The rise of Islam in the seventh century as a new faith has shaped the universal history since Arab-Muslims for more than five centuries b...