We went to Tunisia with a friend ve has lived there for over 25 years and now lives in Spain. His family lives in Monastir, so we chose this town to make our start. His family was amabilissima and they treated us like kings, they had a fleet of taxis and the family was dedicated to it. The first day we spent at Monastir, for its souk, by the port, we smoked shisha at a café and had tea. And then we went to visit the Ribat. It's great. Next door is the cemetery of Monastir, where the father of our friend happens to be buried. We went to visit his grave. Most are made of tiles, or sometimes just a pile of sand. We saw a funeral, and there was a line of people waiting for the dead relatives to give them bread. We were told by our friend that was a tradition. Then we entered the Ribat, with amazing views of the city and the ocean. It was constructed in the year 796. You can access everything. We climbed up the highest tower, Nador and the views were amazing. One could see the immensity of the ocean, the promenade next to the cemetery and the mausoleum of Bughiba, a type of mini Taj Mahal, which was constructed in Bourguiba for burial. It is worth a visit, and my friend told me that was the scene from Life of Brian.
The Bourguiba family mausoleum is one of the main attractions of Monastir. It was built in 1963 and later expanded. The former Tunisian president and his family rest here. This huge and beautiful marble building with a gold dome has two 20 metre tall minarets flanking its sides. But the most striking is the wide promenade that leads to the mausoleum, which is lined with Tunisian flags. Do not miss it.
The town of Monastir has several interesting mosques, oftentimes very modern. Undoubtedly, the most important is the Great Mosque. I was particularly struck by the great "Tower of Faith," the Islamic tower that calls the people to prayer. It is difficult to go beyond the main courtyard, but it costs nothing to try ....
Bab Brikcha (also known as Bab Briqcha) is the name of one of the gates in the Monastir city wall that leads into the ancient Medina. It was built by the Ottomans in the 17th century under the reign of Bey Aliand and was restored in the year 1875. It is worth stopping for a good look at the geometric and animal figures carved in bas-relief. It has been very well preserved over the years.
Like any other tourist destination in Tunisia, Monastir hustles with a market and business negotiations. That is, this is not a quiet town, especially because it is the preferred destination for Europeans who want to bask in the sun on the beaches while staying in a cheap hotel. We went during Easter, and although the beaches were not at their best, we could walk along them pretty quietly. You will see posters and interesting expressions, though it is less wild than other small towns in the area, like Sousse.
Hergla is a small fishing village 20km from the main tourist town, Sousse. It's a place decorated in white and blue that combines modernity with tradition. Ideal for family holidays. It has a beach, restaurants and it's well connected. It's extremely peaceful. The views over the sea, blue sky, walks Floresy full of palm trees is beautiful. Ideal for family, friends, couples or single.
Located on a small street in Mahdia, you'll find this little fabric shop that specializes in making suits for grooms and brides. Making a wedding dress is a very extensive and detailed task that requires months of work to complete. The sewers do not hesitate to get down to work. We took a souvenir photo of ourselves, as if we had gotten married in Tunisia!
Habib Bourguiba International Airport is located about 9km west of the city of Monastir. A taxi ride from the city center costs about 5 DNT and takes about 20 minutes, or you can take a train (the station is about 200 meters from the terminal). It is an international airport and offers no domestic flights. Companies that operate here include Tunisair, Karthago Airlines, Nouvelair Tunisia, Air Berlin, and Transavia, and destinations include Paris, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Munich, Bilbao, Madrid, Milan, and Amsterdam.
Keep an eye out for the porters, who will "help" you with your bags without asking, before asking for a substantial tip (they wanted 10 DNT from us!). There are a number of shops where you can do some last-minute shopping to try to get rid of your dinars before leaving the country; these are souvenir shops with the same merchandise you can find in any souk in the country, but at higher prices. After the police check in the departure terminal, you'll find the duty free shops which have everything (alcoholic beverages, tobacco, perfumes, chocolate) and international brands. There is also a café, where smoking is still allowed, a relief for smokers.
The Koubba Sidi el Mezeri Cemetery is one of the most striking spots in Monastir and is located next to the Citadel on a small plateau above the Mediterranean Sea. One of the things that draws your attention is the fact that the graves are all white and perfectly aligned. This is because Muslims must always be buried facing Mecca. Among all the identical graves there is one exception: the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba (former president of the country), a grand marble building inspired by the Taj Mahal.
Monastir is a nice coastal town bathed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Located in the Gulf of Hammamet, it is one of Tunisia's main tourist resorts for both Tunisians and foreign tourists. One of the most beautiful places in Monastir is the marina filled with luxurious yachts and boats. There surrounding neighborhood also has a lots of elegant houses decorated in white and blue. I felt more like I was in the south of Spain than in Tunisia!
The Monastir Museum of Islamic Art is located inside the prayer hall of the Ribat of Harthema. It was opened in 1958 and houses a collection of over 300 pieces related to Islamic culture exhibited in 16 showcases. There are tombstones, gold and silver objects, old Arabic ceramics, textiles from ancient Egypt, perfume bottles, oil lamps, astrology and navigational instrument and even an Ottoman marriage contract! There is also an old map of the Medina before independence and old photographs of the city. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
The Medina of Monastir is within a walled enclosure. Even today much of the original walls remain intact, especially on the western side (opposite the public gardens), and in the vicinity of the Ribat of Harthama. The Aghlabids started building it in the ninth century and it was completed in the eleventh century. Several renovations including the addition of octagonal corner towers were made in the seventeenth century. Some of the doors in the walls have also been conserved (Bab el-Gharbi, Bab Tunis, Bab el-Kram and Bab Briqcha) and enter to the medina.
The Place du Gouvernorat is a large square is located between the Medina and the Route de la Corniche. This is where you can find the National Palace, though be careful not to take photos as you can have serious problems with the armed soldiers on guard. There are other official buildings like the congress building. But the most striking feature of the square is the gold statue of Habib Bourguiba in the center. There's also a garden area and a large ornamental fountain.
The Medina of Monastir is the area located within the historic city walls. It's an area of cobblestone streets lined with historic homes, mosques, tea houses and tourist shops. The most characteristic spot is the souk where you can find a wide variety of objects like wicker baskets, leather bags, dresses, woolen blankets, carpets, shirts, and ceramic bowls. The medina isn't too large, so you won't feel quite as overwhelmed as you might in the medina of Tunis. Like any other souk in the country, you'll have to haggle if you want to buy anything. There are also some larger department stores where you can buy things without haggling.
It was a sunny day, so I left the hotel and headed to the coast to see the sea. Monastir has a beautiful seaside promenade known as the Corniche that runs high along the beach until the old port. It's a wide avenue lined with palm trees that has spectacular views of the Mediterranean, as well as the island of El-Kebira, which has now been joined to the mainland.
The Ribat de Sidi Dhuib is located between the [poi = 152921] Bourguiba [/ poi] and [poi = 153052] Saida [/ poi] mosques, close to [poi = 153081] Plaza November 7 [/ poi]. Its origins date back to the 9th century when it functioned as a military base, although it was never as big or as famous as the Ribat of Harthama. Its structure is quite austere and devoid of decoration. It's rectangular, and the linearity of its thick stone walls is broken only by the presence of a series of semicircular towers. It is currently being restored so it is closed to the public.
The Saida Mosque is located between the Ribats of Harthama and Sidi Dhuibh. It was built in the 9th century and is rather austere in terms of decoration, except for the gallery of horseshoe-shaped arches located on the northern side. The Roman columns that support the prayer room were recycled from the ruins of the ancient city of Ruspina. You can only visit the outside.
Opposite the National Palace is the Habib Bourguiba statue, which will catch your eye with its gold covering. The statue is of a child and stands on the site of the old school attended by the former Tunisian president, Habib Bourguiba. Of course, the presence of Bourguiba is evident throughout his hometown and there are streets and mosques named in his honor, as well as the extravagant mausoleum where he is buried.