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Tunis



Tunis
Introduction

1. In the suuq

2. Zitouna - the Great mosque

3. Café M'Rabet

4. Bab el Bahr

5. Government quarters

6. Halfaouine

7. Bab Souika

8. Place Halfaouine

9. Bab el Khadra

10. Doors

11. Colonial houses

12. Cathedral

13. Modern town

14. At night

15. Bardo museum

Practicalities




















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TUNIS
In the suuq


'Suuq' is the Arabic name for market, 'medina' is the Arabic name for town. In Tunis today, the suuq is also called medina. And there is a good reason: most of what once was Tunis is today like one enormous shopping centre and handicrafts factory.
Today, the medina is still inhabited, but only a small percentage of the total population of Tunis lives in these quarters.
The suuq is far from randomly arranged. There are areas for goldsmiths, for metal workers, for fabrics etc. And then there is the areas for touristic items. This is of course the area you won't have to search to find. Just start at the Bab el Bahr, take the left entrance to the suuq, and enjoy.
Just remember: there is nothing you find here, that isn't available in other tourist centres. And prices are generally higher here, too.

Tunis, Tunisia





The arrangement of the suuqs are traditional for Muslim cities: the clean professions had their suuqs near the main mosque, the Zitouna, while the unclean professions like dyeing and crude metal works were placed further away. It might be strange to us now that the slave suuq, active until 1846, was placed just 100-150 metres away from the main mosque and the palace of the bey (ruler).
Even if much has disappeared from the suuq of the weavers, the Souk de la Laine, you still have good chances of actually seeing the weaving process by hand looms. The fabrics made like this are expensive and only intended for well-off clients and special occasions.
Just a few streets up from the main mosque, you will come to the gold jewellers' suuq, the Souk des Orfèvres, where gold of high carats is sold (Tunisians think of gold of European style (9 and 14 carat) as junk). The style isn't always very advanced, but in general you won't have to pay through your nose for the work either. Beyond the products, look out for the security measures here: very small shops often just 1,5 metre facing the street, and very narrow alleys, that often are packed.




By Tore Kjeilen