Very close to the capital, a prestigious site with striking panoramas: such as les Côtes de Carthage, named after one of the most glorious ancient cities of the Mediterranean. Founded by the Phoenicians, destroyed and then rebuilt by the Romans, Carthage is a fashionable city today. Nearby, Sidi Bou Saïd is a refined village whose white and blue houses jostle on the hillside facing the sea. Near these inspired places stretch the beaches of Gammarth and La Marsa.
HISTORY AND POETRY
The site of Carthage is certainly one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Even today, we remain fascinated by the bay with its turquoise reflections, the white houses surrounded by cypresses, and in the distance the silhouette of Mount Boukornine which stands out in the mist. Discover fragments of history at random from the streets of modern Carthage: the remains of the Saint-Cyprian basilica overlooking the sea, the Carthaginian houses of the Magon district, the Punic Ports where an astonishing serenity reigns … Then go up the cobbled streets of the famous neighboring village, Sidi Bou Saïd, between blue moucharabiehs, pink bougainvilleas and wrought iron volutes. Take a break at Café des Nattes for its traditional atmosphere. Contemplate the wonderful seascape from the Sidi Chabaane café, the lighthouse or the old cemetery. Many artists have chosen to live in this inspired village. Nearby, La Marsa and its seafront as well as Gammarth and its long beaches attract the inhabitants of Tunis in search of places of relaxation.
CULTURE AND NIGHTLIFE
The Carthage site is inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List and deserves a long visit. The accumulation of remains over an immense area makes it possible to imagine the ancient city: water tanks with a capacity of 60 million liters, gigantic Roman baths, refined lifestyle. At the Archaeological Museum, you will discover the art and religious rites of Punic Carthage. Today, Carthage and the neighboring towns remain centers of culture with numerous art galleries. Shows and concerts are given at the Acropolium (old cathedral), at the medieval Abdelliya palace, in the house of Baron d’Erlanger. The region is also dedicated to leisure: seaside hotels, water sports, thalassotherapy centers, two golf courses, marina in Sidi Bou Saïd. Nightlife is rich there: restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, jazz festivals (Jazz in Carthage) and classical music (October musical). In summer, the ancient theater hosts international performances during the Carthage International Festival.
Former resort of the bourgeois of Tunis and the Beylical family, the Côtes de Carthage are one of the most famous regions of Tunisia for gastronomy. The authentic culinary tradition of the capital remains in the spotlight here. Taste for example the kabkabou, simmered fish with olives and candied lemon. As a starter, taste the Tunisian tagine – thick omelet with vegetables and cheese, similar to the Spanish tortilla – and the mechouia salad – grilled and crushed tomatoes and peppers. In Sidi Bou Saïd, Carthage or La Marsa, the choice of restaurants is wide. You can taste traditional Tunisian recipes in an Ottoman palace decor, inventive Mediterranean cuisine in a chic restaurant overlooking the sea, snacks accompanied by cocktails in a trendy bar or good Italian dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. While visiting Sidi Bou Saïd, treat yourself to a bambalouni, a large hot donut in the shape of a ring, then drink mint and pine nut tea at the famous Café des Nattes.
CARTHAGE, LIGHTHOUSE CITY OF ANTIQUITY
Carthage was founded by the Phoenician queen Elyssa, also known as Dido. One of the most powerful metropolises of antiquity, it extended its hold to Sardinia and Spain. Long rivals of the Greeks, the Carthaginians (also known as Punics) were excellent navigators, traders, and shrewd farmers. But despite the victories of the famous General Hannibal, the Romans conquered Carthage and made it one of the most sumptuous cities of their empire. Later, Saint Augustine, one of the fathers of the Western Church, studied there. At the Carthage museum, you will get to know the Punic civilization: statuette of the god Baal seated on his throne, terracotta masks, engraved stelae bearing the mysterious “sign of Tanit”. On the site itself you will see the ancient Punic inland ports, remains of houses and the shrine called Tophet. As for the numerous Roman remains, they testify to an exceptional refinement.
HOUSES AND PALACE OF SIDI BOU SAÏD
In Sidi Bou Saïd, the doors are the smile of the houses. Painted in blue or bright yellow, arched or rectangular, framed in sculpted stone, ceramic or white and black marble… each has its own style. The most beautiful are decorated with large black nails skillfully arranged in stars, rosettes, in the shape of cypress or fish. During your walk, don’t hesitate to leave the main street to explore the alleys: with every step, a new door will surprise you. Sidi Bou Saïd was once the favorite vacation spot for privileged families in Tunis. By the sea, they reconstructed their refined way of life under the protection of the tomb of Sidi Abou Saïd, a holy man of the 13th century. Behind the simply whitewashed walls sometimes hide veritable palaces. One of them was built by a European who fell in love with the village in 1912, Baron Rodolphe d´Erlanger; transformed into a museum, it now hosts concerts. Other houses have become art galleries or guesthouses.
Texte : © « Carthage et Sidi Bou Saïd », discovertunisia.com