Tunis is the capital of Tunisia, where Eastern and Western influences collide to create one of the region’s most interesting cities. The medina’s tangled streets are crammed with people buying and selling goods, and the air is thick with the scent of exotic spices. The infectious chaos of the city is meant to be savored, and most visitors leave reluctantly, longing for more of the atmospheric and enchanting capital.
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit is the springtime, particularly from April to June, when the fields in the north are a picture of blooming poppies and the apricot season is at its height.
Top Places to Visit Tunis
1. Zaytouna Mosque
All roads in the medina lead to the Zaytouna or Zaytuna Mosque. The name means “olive tree,” and legend says that the mosque’s founder, Hassan Ibn Noonan, taught lessons under a tree on the site. After browsing the busy souqs of the medina, it is impossible to not feel awed by the tranquility of the mosque’s open spaces. The remarkably harmonious building shows influences from the Aghlabids, Romans, Europeans and the Byzantines, bringing together each style with grace. The entire exterior stuns, from the red and white dome to the marble floors.
2. Sidi Mahrez
The Mosque of Sidi Mahres is one of the finest in Tunis. Built in 1692 and named for the city’s patron saint, the mosque is one of the world’s most stunning examples of Ottoman architecture. Although the minaret was never completed, the mosque’s cluster of white domes is breathtaking.
3. Dar Ben Abdallah Museum
To catch a glimpse at how some of the medina’s wealthiest residents once lived, visit the Dar Ben Abdallah Museum. A high-ranking officer once called the palace home in the late 18th century, and the rooms recreate scenes of bourgeois life, including lavish wedding preparations and tea drinking.
4. Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
An eye-catching mishmash of Moorish, Gothic and Byzantine elements located in the New City. The custard-colored building was constructed in 1883 and continues to offer regular masses in Italian and French.
5. Sahib Hammam
The medina is also home to the oldest public bath houses in the country, and you have not really experienced the capital until you have been scrubbed down by one of the elderly masseurs. The atmospheric Sahib Hammam has been keeping residents cleaned and steamed for centuries. The red and green candy-striped doorways invited visitors into the sensual, exotic and relaxing experience that has not changed for hundreds of years.