La Goulette (Tunis),
La Goulette, Tunisia
Tunis is located in northeastern Tunisia at the western end of shallow Lake Tunis, which opens to the Mediterranean Sea at La Goulette. The first of a string of beach suburbs stretching away to the north, La Goulette is the port of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Tunis and the villages of Notre-Dame de Tunis, Ras Tabia, La Rabta, La Kasbah, Montfleury, and La Manoubia are built on a hill slope leading down to Lake Tunis. This coastal area includes the ruins of ancient Carthage to the north of the city, and picturesque suburb of Sidi Bou Said. The city is located at the crossroads of a narrow strip of land between Lake Tunis and Séjoumi. This isthmus is known as the 'Tunis Dome', which includes hills of limestone and sediment that form a natural bridge linking Tunis to the rest of Tunisia and Egypt.
During Tunisia's 3,000-year history, the country has been occupied by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Spanish, and French. During the Punic Wars, Roman occupiers destroyed Tunis and Carthage. Later, in the 7th century, Tunis fell under control of Arab Muslims; the Medina of Tunis dates from this time. Although much of Tunisia was destroyed during the 11th century, the establishment of the Khourassanid Dynasty brought peace and prosperity back to the region. From the 12th-16th centuries, Tunis was considered one of the most important and wealthiest cities in the Arab world, and the Kasbah Fortress was erected in 1535. During the 18th century, the Husainid Dynasty ushered in a period of extended expansion and urban development in Tunis. A constitution, the first in the Arab world, was proclaimed in 1861. A period of French occupation from 1881 to 1956 ushered in a boom of new commercial, industrial and economic activity that expanded Tunis even further, and prompted new boulevards and neighbourhoods. Tunisia finally gained independence from France in 1956. Today, the urban landscape features an eclectic blend of historic landmarks and modern buildings, and an active policy of industrialization and tourism continues to develop the municipal economy.
La Goulette is a vital part of the port system of Tunis. This delightful fishing port features a lovely beach and panoramic beach promenade, and is renowned for having some of the best seafood restaurants in Tunisia. However, La Goulette's proximity to Tunis and accessibility for exploring the rest of the country have made it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Tunis and its environs are home to majestic hills, cliffs and mountains, beautiful lakes and lagoons, miles of picturesque coastline and pristine beaches, abundant farmland, and a myriad of bird species, wildlife and marine life to discover.
The culture, history and architecture of La Goulette, Tunis and its environs can be experienced during visits to a myriad of ancient cities, settlements and landmarks, including the 1st-century Sousse Catacombs, 3rd-century El Jem Amphitheatre, late-7th-century Medina of Tunis, 9th-century Medina of Sousse, 13th-century Kasbah Mosque, early 17th-century Mosque Sidi Youssef, and the Byzantine-era Kelibia Fortress. Must-see archaeological sites include those at Kasserine, Matmata, Bulla Regia, Thuburbo Majus, and Carthage. Tunis is also home to a trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Kairouan, Dougga and the Zitouna Mosque. The Bardo Museum, a lovely 13th-century palace, houses the world's largest collection of Roman mosaics dating from the 1st-4th century A.D.
Indulge your senses with Tunisia's breath-taking inland beauty during outdoor activities such as bird-watching, hiking, Jeep safaris, white-water rafting, hunting, tennis, horseback-riding, mountain-climbing, and golfing at any of several picturesque and challenging golf courses. The inviting waters of La Goulette and Tunis' harbour, bay and beaches are ideally-suited for a wide array of popular water sports, including swimming, jet-skiing, waterskiing, windsurfing, fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
Due to its compact size, La Goulette can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in La Goulette
The ship is scheduled to dock at the port of La Goulette Pier, a 10-minute walk to La Goulette and a nine-mile (5.6-kilometre), 30-minute drive from the city centre of Tunis. Complimentary shuttle bus service to Avenue Bouguiba, a convenient location in Tunis, is offered in the morning and afternoon. Taxis are generally available at the pier. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
The shops in the medina offer a wide range of souvenir items and local crafts, including Berber carpets and jewellery, gold, silver, copper and brassware, leather articles, and traditional red felt hats, or chechia. Popular shopping destinations include: Sidi Bou Said, located 5.6 miles (nine kilometres) from La Goulette, the Medina of Tunis and its souks, located 12.4 miles (20 kilometres) from La Goulette, Le Marche Central de Tunis, Delices & Caprices, and Carrefour Tunisie. On Sundays, most shops are closed in the afternoon. Bargaining is an accepted practice; vendors tend to be very persistent. The local currency is the Dinar.
Tunisian cuisine consists of a unique blend of European, African, Mediterranean, International, and local flavours. Popular dishes include couscous with fish, lamb or chicken, brik with tuna and egg, and tajine au thon. Tunisia is also renowned for its pastries, mint tea, dates, citrus, apricots, almonds, olives, olive oil, and a large selection of local wines; Magon is among Tunisia's finest wineries. Popular restaurants in-and-around La Goulette include Mamie Lily, La Spigola in La Goulette, Le Cafe Vert, Monte Carlo, La Victoire, and La Petite Etoile. In Tunis, try Dar El Jeld, L'Astraguale, L'Olivio, El Ali, Al Pachino, El Walima, Dar Slah, Fondouk El Attarine, Il Ritrovo Degli Artisti, La Salle a Manger, La Closerie, Calcutta, La Parenthese, L'Astragale, Origami, Milton, and Le Baroque. Additional restaurants worthy of a visit include Dar Zarrouk in Sidi Bou Said, and the Grand Bleu and Residence Hotel restaurants in Gammarth.
The Medina of Tunis, built on a gentle hill slope on the way down to Tunis Lake, is the historical heart of the city and home to many monuments, including palaces, such as the Dar Ben Abdallah and Dar Hussein, the mausoleum of Tourbet El Bey, and mosques such as Zitouna Mosque. East of the original nucleus, beginning with the construction of the French Consulate, the modern city was built gradually on open land between the city and Tunis Lake in the late-19th century. The axis to the structure of this part of the city is the upscale Avenue Habib Bourguiba, which features cafes, major hotels, shops and cultural venues.
Medina of Tunis
Located in a fertile plain region of northeastern Tunisia, the Medina of Tunis is one of the first Arabo-Muslim towns of the Maghreb. Tunis' Old Quarter spans an area covering approximately 692 acres (about 280 hectares). It is comprised of the 8th-century central Medina, and 13th-century suburbs to the north and south. Of the 700 historic monuments distributed in seven areas, the most notable include the Zitouna Mosque, Kasbah Mosque, Youssef Dey Mosque, Bab Jedid Gate, Bab Bhar Gate, the Souq el-Attarine, the Dar el-Bey, Souqs ech-Chaouachia, and the Tourbet Cemetery el Bey. Noble houses include Dar Hussein, Dar Ben Abdallah, Dar Lasram, Medrasa Es-Slimanya and El-Mouradia, El Attarine Military Barracks, and the Zaouia of Sidi Mehrez.
Medina of Sousse
Sousse was an important commercial and military port during the Aghlabid period (800 A.D.-909 A.D.) and is a typical example of a town dating from the first centuries of Islam. The Medina of Sousse features several monuments reflecting the area's ancient military coastal architecture, including the Ribat, Great Mosque, Bou Ftata Mosque, Kasbah and ramparts.
An UNESCO World Heritage Site founded by Arabs around 670 A.D., the Kairouan is the fourth most holy city of the Muslim faith, and a major pilgrimage destination. Renowned local landmarks worthy of a visit include the Medina, or Old Quarter, Mosque of the Three Doors and Great Mosque, which is surrounded by the Medina and many small shops.
Located in west-central Tunisia approximately 180 miles (246 kilometres) southwest of Tunis, the ancient city of Kasserine was once a Roman colony. The city's classical antiquity can be explored during a visit to the archaeological ruins of mausoleums, triumphal arches, thermae, a theatre, and Christian basilica.
This ancient village in southern Tunisia is famous for its troglodyte cave dwellings, but even more renowned as the setting for scenes from a number of Star Wars movies that were filmed here. Sites to be seen during your visit include the cave dwellings, still inhabited by local families to this day, along with a small museum, the Sidi Driss hotel and stone village of Tamezret.
Bulla Regia is an archaeological site in northwestern Tunisia, a former Roman city near modern Jendouba. It is renowned for its Domus artchitecture, Hadrianic-era semi-subterranean housing and mosaic floors, widely acknowledged as the finest in North Africa. Explore these ancient relics during visits to the ruins of houses, the Basilica, or 'House of the Hunt', and the House of Amphritrite, which displays a stunning mosaic of a haloed Amphitrite.
Thuburbo Majus is a large Roman archaeological site that is located in northern Tunisia, and offers a unique insight into daily life in ancient Rome. This town does not have fully restored buildings, but there are remains of a forum, amphitheatre, temples, baths, houses, and other sites. Mosaics unearthed in the town date from the late-4th century. These mosaics depict items from nature, like a still-life arrangement of food items and young people fishing from boats. Another mosaic represents a nude Venus riding a chariot, and surrounded by plant-life.
At the western edge of the Medina, the 13th-century Kasbah Mosque stands majestically on an enormous open square beautifully paved with local granite. This large, modern square is beautifully paved with local granite and was the location of the city's Kasbah, which was destroyed by the French in 1883. All that remains is the Kasbah Mosque, National Monument, Prime Ministry of Tunisia, and the city's Municipal Buildings.
Souks are traditional markets typically consisting of enclosed, bustling shopping areas with hundreds of shop bursting with bright colours, throngs of people and wonderful aromas. Some of Tunis' most renowned souks can be found in the Medina of Tunis, and include the Souk el Chaouachine, Souk el Nhas, Souk el Birka, Souk el Attarine, and Souk el Leffa, among others.
Sidi Bou Said
This lovely countryside village with whitewashed houses, blue shutters and cascading flowers is a must-see during your visit to La Goulette. The quaint, cobbled streets of Sidi Bou Said are lined with souvenir shops, cafés and art shops, and ideal for browsing. Other highlights include the Roman ruins of Carthage, local market, or souk, the remains of a huge Roman aqueduct system, and an expensive district with upscale restaurants, ships and hotels.
Bardo National Museum
Tunisia's most renowned museum, the Bardo National Museum, houses the world's largest collection of Roman mosaics dating from the 1st-4th century A.D. These ancient mosaics were assembled from all over Tunisia, Italy and North Africa, then cut up into large pieces and moved to the museum. They are all remarkably well preserved and beautifully presented in a 13th-century palace; all of the ceilings in the palace have been restored, so be sure to look up in the various exhibit rooms. The museum also houses an impressive display of artefacts spanning the Carthaginian, Roman, Paleo-Christian and Arab-Islamic eras.
Located inside the Medina, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest mosques in the world. Marvel at the stunning Islamic architecture with fantastic minaret that was the reference model for other African mosques in Africa. The Zitouna Mosque also houses the Zitouna Library, a quiet corner of medieval Arabic learning.
The American Cemetery a memorial built by the Tunisia government to honour those Americans who lost their lives in World War II fighting to free North Africa. This cemetery is beautiful and well-maintained, with flowers decorating the surrounding area, and includes a Chapel, mosaic battle map, and a small Information Centre where you can sign the visitor's log. The names of those buried here are inscribed on the cross headstones.
Located on Rue Sidi ben Arous upon entering the Medina, the Espace Diwan is a small shop and library of art and heritage. Here, you can browse paintings, postcards, old photos and books highlighting the art, history, and literature of Tunis, Tunisia and the Maghreb.
Zaouia of Sidi Kassem Jelizi
Located inside the Medina is the Zaouia of Sidi Kassem Jelizi. This beautiful home features a selection of antique tiles to explore, along with a thriving ceramic college.
Mosque Sidi Youssef
Located in Rue Sidi Ben Ziyad, just in front of the Government Palace, is another beautiful mosque in the Medina of Tunis, the early 17th-century Mosque Sidi Youssef. This mosque is highlighted by a beautiful courtyard, and a terrace with an octagonal minaret topped by a tiny pyramid covered in green tiles. The mosque's lovely interior features a prayer hall with arched galleries and the mausoleum of its builder, Youssef Dey.
A visit to the ancient Kelibia Fortress is a great way to soak in the sights, scents and sounds of ordinary Tunisian living. This impressive Byzantine fortress, along with the market, queues of food stalls and harbour, is a popular night-time attraction.
Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
Located in downtown Tunis on Habib Bou Rkeba Street, the huge, well-maintained Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is over 100 years old, and just (109 yards) 100 metres from the Medina entrance.
A splendid mansion built in the Middle Ages, Dar Lasram is the home of the Agence Sauvegarde de la Medina. Adorned with beautiful interiors and stucco, this cultural space is located within the Medina, an ancient Tunisian house-turned-cultural centre with Turkish and Andalusian architecture, walls, ceramics, marble floors, and brightly-coloured roofs.
Dar Bach Hamba
Immerse yourself in ancient Tunis during a visit to this beautiful old building, the classic home of noble Tunisian families. Highlights include the spectacular path with central fountain, and an Ethnographic Museum displaying valuable collection of ceramics, costumes, puppets, paper figures, and more.
Cimetiere Militaire Francais
Located in Takrouna, the sombre-but-beautiful Cimetiere Militaire Francais is the permanent resting-place for hundreds of young French soldiers who died fighting for their country in World War II.
This underground necropolis was created towards the end of the 1st century by Christians to bury their dead during periods of persecution. The Sousse Catacombs are formed by galleries stretching over 3.1 miles (five kilometres), and contained no less than 15,000 graves dug into the walls of the galleries on two or three levels. The Catacombs also contained many sacred artefacts now displayed in the Sousse Museum, including epitaphs and marble carved with sacred symbols (fish, doves, the Good Shepherd, etc.).
El Jem Amphitheatre
One of the largest amphitheatres of the ancient world and largest coliseums in North Africa, the El Jem Amphitheatre is located in the small village of El Jem. The impressive ruins of this huge, 3rd-century monument, which held up to 35,000 spectators, illustrates the grandeur and excess of Imperial Rome.
Located south of Tunisia, Chaambi Mountain rises spectacularly into the blue African sky. At over 5,000 feet (1,544 metres) Chaambi Mountain is Tunisia's highest mountain, and offers visitors ample hiking and climbing opportunities.
The world's largest desert, the Sahara, is an amazing sight to behold. The sand is so fine and soft that you could easily sleep on it without discomfort. A camel ride across the rolling hills of sand offers breath-taking panoramic views and amazing photo opportunities of the animals that live in the desert.
Located just a short drive from the pier, Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century B.C., destroyed by the Romans after three wars and rebuilt to become one of Rome's most intriguing provincial capitals. The ruins are scattered and a modern, upscale residential neighborhood has been built over most of this lovely area. Roman sites include the Antonin Baths, the largest Roman baths outside of Rome, Amphitheatre, remains of Roman houses, columns, and water cisterns alongside a small section of an ancient Roman aqueduct. On the same site, you can explore the archaeological site of Byrsa Hill, Acropolium Cathedral and some of Carthage's Punic remains, including a kiln and cemetery. Other artefacts of Roman and Punic Carthage can be found in the Carthage Museum, as well as the remains of a Punic-era street, sculptures, mosaics and other exhibits.
An UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient city and its ruins offers a unique opportunity to explore the best-preserved Roman small town in North Africa. Nestled in the middle of the countryside, this 161-acre (65-hectare) site has been protected from the encroachment of modern urbanisation. Dougga's well-preserved monuments are an exceptional tribute to its rich Numidian-Berber, Punic, ancient Roman and Byzantine history. Amongst the most famous monuments at the site are a Punic-Libyan Mausoleum, the Capitol, Theatre, and temples of Saturn and Juno Caelestis.
The Berber village of Takrouna was built on fossilized rock covered with cactus from the 22-million-year-old Tertiary era, at an altitude of 656 feet (200 meters). This strategic location overlooks the Gulf of Hammamet, Hergla, Sousse, jbel Zaghouan and Kairouan, and was the setting for several World War II battles. The village consists of stone houses whose architecture reflects the Berber construction methods; a small inner-courtyard surrounded by vaulted rooms. During your visit, observe the local lifestyle of the Berber people and marvel at the natural beauty of your surrounds.
Located 6.2 miles (10 kilometres) from Tunis City, the exclusive residential suburb of La Marsa features a beautiful beach, and a host of upscale cafés and restaurants.
Tunis hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year. The Festival of Music is held at the open-air Hammamet Theatre of Carthage in July/August, the Festival of the Sahara at Douz from December 25th-30th, and the Festival of Classical Music at the Acropolium from October 1st-25th.
Explore Tunisian art and culture during visits to Tunis' splendid museums. Included are the Museum of Traditional and Popular Arts in Dar Ben Abdallah, Military Museum of La Rose at La Manouba, Museum Maison El Haddad with its traditional costumes, and the Museum of the Cinema in La Kasbah.
Tunis is home to a delightful selection of beautiful, white-sand beaches, including Gammarth, Amilcar, La Goulette, La Marsa, Raf Raf, Tabarka, Hammamet, Monastir, Mahdia, Djerba, Le Mediterranee, Nabeul, and El Haouaria.
Indulge your senses with Tunisia's breath-taking natural beauty during outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain-climbing on Chaambi Mountain, jet-skiing, waterskiing, windsurfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, tennis, and horseback-riding at the Gammarth Resort, located 15.5 miles (25 kilometres) from La Goulette. Alternatively, you can enjoy a relaxing round of golf at the picturesque and challenging Tozeur Golf Course, Flamingo Golf Course, Palm Links Golf Course, El Kantaoui Golf Course, or La Soukra Golf Course, located 12.4 miles (20 kilometres) from La Goulette. Additional fun-filled excursions for outdoor enthusiasts include scenic and exciting Jeep safaris and white-water rafting, along with hunting, swimming, fishing, boating and sailing.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.