Tunisia Landmarks and Monuments

(Tunisia, TN, North Africa)

Tunisia's long and rich history has left behind some monumental gems and important ancient landmarks, from Roman amphitheatres to Punic ruins.

Whilst this is also true of many other cities in the world, what makes these Tunisian versions stand out so distinctively is that they are often surrounded by little more than sand dunes or a small village. Most are best viewed at sunset, when the fading light makes for a good photo opportunity.

For a relatively small country, there are more than enough historic sites and monuments to see during the course of a holiday. However, some of Tunisia's most popular landmarks can become very busy during the peak tourist season. If you have the transport and means to head off the beaten track, you are more likely to find sites that are much less crowded.

Amphitheatre of El Jem

Address: Avenue Farhat Hached, El Jem, Tunisia, Africa
The sight of this ruined amphitheatre is an impressive one, standing proud against the backdrop of the dusty, small village of El Jem, known by the Romans as Thysdrus. It is believed to be one of the biggest amphitheatres in the Roman world, similar in status to the great Coliseum in Rome, and certainly the largest to be built in Africa. Dating back to the early 3rd century AD, what is perhaps most amazing is that this complex architectural construction, complete with underground passageways for the movement of animals and gladiators, was built without any foundations. The monument was made a World Heritage Site in 1979 and was subsequently used during the filming of 'Gladiator' in 1999, starring Russell Crowe.
Open hours: daily, April to October - closes at 19:00; November to March - closes at 17:30
Admission: charge

Necropolis of Kerkouane

Address: Kerkouane, Kelibia, Tunisia, Africa
These landmarks are reputed to rank amongst the finest Punic ruins in Tunisia. Discovered in 1929 by a school teacher, who proceeded to plunder the tombs, they were rediscovered in the 1950s. The later excavations revealed finds of less significance. Nevertheless, they did give archaeologists a chance to see what a fortified Punic city would have looked like, with its paved streets and large open squares. Of note, the site is perched high above the sea.
Open hours: daily, April to October - 08:00 to 19:30; November to March - 09:30 to 16:30
Admission: charge

Archaeological Site of Carthage

Address: Avenue 7 Novembre, Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia, Africa
This ancient city is situated to the east of Lake Tunis. Founded in 9th century BC by Phoenician traders, it was to become an important civilization in its own right. Indeed, Carthage was quickly recognised to be of great strategic importance by the Phoenicians, Punics and Romans who occupied the city. Roman forces established a second Carthage - a Roman version, on the site of the earlier ruins, spread out over a fairly large area. Highlights include the Roman Antoine Baths - built in the mid-2nd century, the Roman Amphitheatre and theatre, and the Sanctuary of Tophet, used in Punic times as a place of human sacrifice.
Open hours: daily, April to October - 08:30 to 19:00; November to March - 08:30 to 17:00 (general opening hours within the Carthage Archaeological Site; note that individual attractions' opening hours may differ)
Admission: charge

Dougga Archaeological Site

Address: Rue de Dougga, Dougga, Tunisia, Africa
Dougga was occupied by Roman forces from the 2nd century AD. When the Roman Empire later declined, many vestiges of this ancient civilisation were left behind. The ruins at Dougga are particularly well preserved. Indeed, the site has been named as a World Heritage Site. There are almost too many ruins to list them comprehensively. Worthy of a mention, though, are two fine arches - the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Severus Alexander. Both were built in the 3rd century AD. Other notable landmarks and examples of Roman architecture include the Baths of Licinius and the Baths of the Cyclopes, the Capitol building, forum, circus, market and mausoleum.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Sbeitla Archaeological Site

Address: Sbeitla / Subaytilah, Kasserine, Tunisia, Africa
The ancient city of Sbeitla is home to some of the best preserved Roman ruins to be found in the world. These include the forum, the remains of three Roman Temples - dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and the Triumphal Arch. Several ruined Byzantine churches can also be seen here.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge

Roman Ruins of Pupput

Address: Hammamet, Tunisia, Africa
Pupput offers visitors a chance to glimpse what it must have been like to live in Hammamet in the 4th century AD. Whilst the archaeological site is more modestly sized than many others in Tunisia, it is well-known for its vast collection of Byzantine mosaics. Perhaps the most interesting of the ruins found here is the House of Figured Peristyle. In terms of its structure, only a few columns have survived the test of time. However, many of the floors still have fairly intact mosaics. Byzantine tomb mosaics can also be seen.
Open hours: daily, April to October - 08:00 to 19:00; November to March - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge