After seeing the beautiful great mosque of Kairouan and the impressive amphitheater in El Jem, my mini journey from Tunis ended with a stay in Sousse. This is a seaside city with a fortified old town sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name is from ancient Berber origins and it was founded by the Phoenicians in 11th BC. Historically, the city was allies with the Romans which meant little damage during the Punic wars. The fortified structures are still really prominent and well maintained to this day. Since then, the city has gone through periods of the Arab conquest (7th century) and even short periods of occupation by the Normans of Sicily (12th century) and the Spanish (18th Century). Now, Sousse is a peaceful town with lots of beach resorts and an incredible Medina with lots of history!
After a long day of sitting in louanges and meandering around the Northern part of the country from Tunis, I was lucky enough to find an incredible Airbnb in the outskirts of town. I managed to get a cab to the address and found a beautiful house and the most hospitable host ever. Rabaa lives in her house alone since her children are now grown up and rents out rooms to visitors and students alike. She has one of the best ratings on the site and I could see why! The whole place was so comfortable and relaxing and she offered to cook me a local meal for a small cost - which was well worth it as it was a delicious meal of fresh seafood and vegetables. A perfect evening after a long day!
The old medina is literally perched next to the blue waters and the walls around it really adds to this ideal military position of the town. Walking into town and you will see the great walls and gate entrance, a bit like the one in Dubrovnik. The feeling about this city is that there seems to be more tourists here than in Tunis. I guess it is a perfect match between beach resorts combining with the experience of an old Medina!
Just like most medinas, there is a beautiful mosque right in the middle of town. The great mosque of Sousse started construction in 851 and is an active mosque with a beautiful courtyard and really nice arches. There were a lot of people there who were all students of the Qur'an, learning and studying.
Right next to the mosque is the Sousse Ribat, built in the 8th century. This fort is a secure structure that once had rooms for guards to live in with bathrooms facilities. On entrance, you will see an opened up courtyard with stairs going up to the different levels.
Head to the top of the tower for some of the best views in town. You can see the waters and definitely any enemies coming towards the city. You can also see the mosque from above.
Museum Dar Essid
Next, head back towards the main gate and stop by at this private museum. It is in an old home with 19th century decorations and very lavish interiors. You will see rooms and courtyards filled with old looking possessions, such as beds, perfume bottles and even old school tiles!
The best part of the house is at roof where you will again get an unbelievable view of town. With the city slightly higher on the right and the waters on the left, you can really see the city all spread out. A really nice sight!
Sousse Archaeological Museum
It is a bit confusing trying to get inside this museum as you can only enter from the outside of the walls. Once inside, you will be faced with artifacts dating all the way back to the 7th century. The collection here is not as big as the one at the Bardo Museum but it is still pretty impressive. The museum is housed in a Kasbah, which is basically a fortress, which makes it quite a nice building to walk around the grounds of. Once again great views here too of the waters and the town below.
Restaurant du peuple
For a lunch break between the museums, forts and medina walking, head to this popular joint for some nice local dishes. The salads and fish were incredible and make sure to order the mechouia, a nice dip like texture of blended tomatoes and peppers.
It was by pure chance that I stopped at one of the side cafes for a bit of coffee. Right next to the mosque, in an alleyway is this cute little road side cafe. I ordered a nice espresso and just chilled on the side road. A very relaxing and chilled vibe to this city.
All in All
This is the end of my series on my travels to the totally incredible Tunisia. Sousse is a great way to end this mini trip with its medina, forts and museums. The journey has been great and I cannot wait to go back to check out some of the more southern parts of the country, especially the dessert areas of some Star Wars film locations!