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The Medina of Tunis

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

Located in a fertile region, northeast of Tunisia and a few kilometers from the sea, the Medina of Tunis is one of the first Arab-Muslim cities of the Maghreb.

Founded in 698 around the initial core of the Zitouna Mosque, it develops throughout the Middle Ages, northerly and south, dividing in a main Medina and two suburbs: north (Bab Souika) and South (Bab El Jazira).

On 12th century, the Medina became the capital of the powerful Hafside kingdom, a religious and intellectual home and large economic center open to the Middle East, the North of Africa and Europe.

The Medina has many monuments where the ifriqiya styles mingle with Andalusian and Turkish and Persian influences, but also borrow some of architectural elements of the Carthaginian, Romaine and Byzantine area.

Under the Hafsides, from 13th to16th century, la Medina of Tunis was considered one of the most important and richest cities in the Arab world. There are many testimonials from this period and earlier periods.

Between the 16th and the 19th century, the new powers enriched the architectural and cultural heritage of the Medina with many palaces, Mansions, large mosques, Zaouias kind of Mausoleum and Medersas (schools)..

There are 700 historical monuments, divided into seven areas, among which the most remarkable are the mosque of the Zitouna, the mosque of the Casbah, the mosque of Youssef dey, the door of Bab Jedid, the door of Bab Bhar, the souk El-Atremine, Dar El-Bey, Souk Ech-Chaouachia, Tourbet (Mausoli of Beys), patrician mansions such as Dar Hussein, Dar Ben Abdallah, Dar Lasram, Medrasa Esters Slimanya and El-Mouradia, the EL ATTARINE CASEER AND ZAOUIA SIDI MEHREZ.

By its souks, its urban set, its residential quarters, its monuments and its doors, the Medina is among the best preserved Medina's in the Islamic world. It is both a homogeneous urban set and a juxtaposition of subsets. The urbanism of the Medina has the particularity of not obeying geometric plots or formal compositions (grid, alignments, etc.). The complex organization of the urban set has fueled a whole colonial literature where the dangerous, anarchic and chaotic Medina seemed the territory of labyrinth.

However, studies started in the 1930s with the arrival of the first ethnologists have shown that the articulation of the areas of the Medina is not random: the houses revolve in a sociocultural manner, codified according to the complex types of Human relations. Many publications detailed the model of development of the Medina and the system of prioritization of collective and private spaces, residential and commercial, sacred and secular.

The notion of public space is ambiguous in the case of the Medina where the streets are considered the extension of houses and subject to social tags.

The terraces of the Medina are also an important place of social life, illustrated by the Film Halfaouine, the child of the terraces of Férid Boughedir. Rituals and times of attendance ensure informal diversity.

Today, every district of the Medina retains its culture and rivalries can be strong. Thus, the North Faubourg supports the Football Club of Sportive Espérance of Tunis while, at the other end, it is the district of the Grand Club Rival of Club Africain.

The Medina also knows a social distribution: the district of Tourbet El Bey and the district of Kasbah are the two aristocratic districts, with a population of judges and politicians, while the rue du Pacha is that of the military and the bourgeois (traders) and notable ). Revisited article Source: Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0)

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