Kairouan – once the sacred capital of Tunisia, is located just 60 km from Sousse and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city was founded in 670 by the Arab commander Okba ibn Nafaa in the center of the rich province of Bizacene, through which the most important trade routes in this part of Africa passed. Now in the Muslim hierarchy of especially revered cities, Kairouan is in fourth place after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The sevenfold pilgrimage here is equivalent to the Hajj to Mecca. Check TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA to learn more about Tunisia.
5 things to do in Kairouan
- Bargain the most beautiful knotted carpet in numerous shops-workshops.
- Try honey biscuits “macrud” with dates.
- Sip a glass of green tea at the historic Bir Barut Café.
- Admire the columns from Carthage, now decorating the prayer hall of the Great Mosque.
- Wander the streets of the most authentic medina in Tunisia.
How to get to Kairouan
You can get to Kairouan by land transport – by minibuses-luages or buses. The nearest resorts are Sousse, Monastir and Hammamet. And the nearest airport to the city is in Enfid (about 80 km).
- How to get from Skanes to Kairouan
Most of the hotels in Kairouan are urban, rather primitive and designed for the unpretentious local population. Standing apart is the magnificent five-star La Kasbah, located in close proximity to the medina and the Grand Mosque. This is a classic resort hotel with good service.
Shopping and shops in Kairouan
Kairouan is the center of production of the famous knotted carpets, woolen or silk. They are rated for quality and number of knots per square meter. An ordinary carpet has from 10 to 40 thousand knots, better – 65-90 thousand, the best – from 160 to 500 thousand knots. Bargaining is not only appropriate, but necessary.
Kairouan is the fourth most important city in the Islamic world after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
Even from Kairouan, you can bring the traditional makrud biscuits made from coarse grains, olive oil, honey syrup and dates. There are several “macrude” houses operating in the city, each producing cookies with their own patented logo.
Entertainment and attractions of Kairouan
The main attraction of Kairouan is the Great Mosque (Sidi Okba, named after the founder of the city). Previously, it also served as a fortress in which the inhabitants of the city hid from the attacks of the Byzantines and Berbers. Opening hours: daily, except Fridays and holidays, 7:30-14:00, in summer 8:00-14:30.
In Medina – Bab ash-Shuhada (“Gate of the Martyrs”); the Aghlabid pools, located near the city wall; Mosque of Bardobrey (Abu Jamaa el-Balaui, the personal hairdresser of the Prophet Muhammad, is buried in the tomb). It is worth visiting the small mosque of the Three Doors – a monument of Moorish-Andalusian architecture of the 9th century. Approximately 100 m from the mosque is the cult spring of Bir Barut, where a golden bowl from Mecca was found. There is also a popular cafe, the water for which is extracted by camel traction.
It would be useful to visit the National Museum of Islamic Art, which is located in the suburbs of Kairouan – Raqqada (7 km from the city). One of the most beautiful and valuable collections in North Africa is located in the former palace of President Bourguiba.
The ONTT tourist office is located on avenue de la Republique, next to the Aghlabide pools, opposite the Continental Hotel. Opening hours: daily, 8:00-17:00. Here you can buy a single ticket to visit all the sights of the city worth 8 TND.