Thursday, December 04, 2008



Kairouan was founded in 670 (the year 50 according to the Islamic calendar) when the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi selected a site about 160 kilometres south of Tunis as the location of a military post for the conquest of the West. It flourished under the Aghlabid dynasty in the 9th century, and though the political capital was transferred to Tunis in the 12th century, Kairouan remained the Maghreb's principal holy city, ranking after Mecca and Medina as a place of pilgrimage. Also known as The City of the Fifty Mosques, including the rich Great Mosque and the 9th-century Mosque of the Three Gates, Kairouan is the oldest Muslim place of prayer in North Africa, and was included in the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1988.


"GREAT MOSQUE - The wall and Minaret of the Mosque of Uqba seen from the outside, close to the Handicraft Centre. The mosque is spread over an area of 900 square metres and takes the form of an irregular quadrilateral, which is wider on the side of the main entrance (138 metres) than on the opposite side (128 metres) and thinner on the side of the minaret (71 metres) than on the opposite side (77 metres)!"

"GREAT MOSQUE - Though originally built in 670 AD, nothing remains of the original mosque, the current Mosque dating from 863 AD. Actually, the original mosque was torn down and rebuilt in 703, again in 774, and then significantly enlarged in 836 and 863. For many centuries, it has been a pilgrimage destination for those North Africans who couldn't make the trip to Mecca (since, according to popular belief, seven trips to Kairouan were worth one hajj to Mecca). Here we can see the three stories tall Minaret, 31m high by 10m wide, with its lower stories composed of stone blocks taken from classical Roman buildings. This minaret, built from 724 to 728 AD, is the oldest standing minaret in the world"

"THE GREAT MOSQUE - The Great Mosque is approached through a large marble-paved courtyard. The pavement slopes towards a central draining hole, which delivers rainwater into a 9th-century cistern. Its decorations (on the right hand side of the last picture also serve to filter dust from the water"

"THE COLONNADE - The courtyard is surrounded by a wonderful colonnade supported by 400 pillars plundered from many sources"

"DOOR - The massive wooden doors leading into the prayer hall date from 1829 and are beautifully carved"

"INTERIOR - The main aisle leading to the 9th-century tiled mihrab can be seen here. The tiles of the mihrab and the wood for the nearby minbar were imported from Baghdad. The 414 pillars that support the mosque were Roman or Byzantine pieces salvaged from Carthage and Sousse, and are all different from one another"


"WOODEN BALCONIES - One of the most striking features of old town Kairouan are the wooden enclosed balconies of its buildings. Here we may see some of the most beautiful to be found there"

"WINDOWS - Ironwork windows may be found throughout town"










Rakesh Vanamali was so kind to pass me the well deserved Free Spirit and Independent Award he got. He used the kindest words one could think of. I'm honoured and delighted!

Thank you Rakesh!


Anonymous said...

Hi Folks! I’m sorry, I can’t make the tour of your blogs this weekend, but I’ll try it next week! Meanwhile, I leave you in Kairouan, Maghreb’s holy city. Hope you enjoy this new post and have a great weekend! And don’t shop till you drop… ;))

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Hello Gil

Wonderful pictures as always! Your blog is a fabulous stop-over for some of us folks who haven't had an opportunity to travel and experience cultures!

Many Congratulations on the award, once again! You so very much deserve it! I was only a facilitator here, in rolling it over to you!



angela said...

Such amazing photos. I think my favourite was the interior of the dome. I see you're wearing must have been cold..

hpy said...

Décidément, j'ai un faible et pour cette architecture, et pour de beaux tapis.
Sois le bien venu dans l'hiver chez hpy.

Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

Breathtaking photos, Gil! I've always wanted to go to Tunisia. In fact, I already have guidebooks for the country, but haven't found the time (and budget) to go yet. However, I think our family will be heading to Cape Town next year. Any suggestions?
P.S. I like Blogger's "Follow This Blog" function, as it works like an RSS feed, and I get everyone's updates on my Blogger soon as I open it!!
-Jen from Folie a Deux

Anonymous said...

Stunning photos of the mosques. I love their architecture. The walls are terrific, too.


Mariposa said...

GORGEOUS GMG!! =) I love coming to your blog..I see a little bit more of the world here ;)

Pietro Brosio said...

Another great post with wonderful images, Gil!
How beautiful the photo of you and your wife on the marble-paved courtyard in the Great Mosque. I like a lot the Colonnade, the interior and the interesting wooden balconies.
Have a very good weekend!

S-V-H said...

Beautiful photos about the Tunisian charm in architecture, I love it!

Ron said...

Such beautiful pictures yet again. That looks like an amazing place to see. I sure do enjoy the world thru your lens.

Anonymous said...

great architectures. thank you for this trip!!

Maria Verivaki said...

lovely photos once again, blogtrotter!

lyliane six said...

Que de beaux balcons! et tout ce bleu!,j'adore cette couleur.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely city! At least this holy city is open to non-Muslim visitors, unlike Mecca and Medina. :)

Nikon said...

Beautiful shots, Gil.
I love that shot of the colonnade and the series of interior shots that follow it.

Oman said...

its ok gmg. as long as you share to us these wonderful images from your travel, then everything is just fine. you never really fail to impress me everytime i go here. thanks for sharing.

alicesg said...

Very beautiful photos of your travel. I am always fascinated by all these beautiful architectural buildings. The big spaces of the country allowed such big and beautiful magnificient buildings. We wont be able to do that in a small island like ours. Thanks for sharing and have a nice weekend.

MedaM said...

I first enjoyed your Bardo Museum post and admired mosaic artworks very much. Then it was the Blue Village that took my breath away both outside and inside. There are so many fantastic details in one place and so much history through the centuries. Wonderful post of this very interesting and really beautiful country! I am impressed again!Thanks for sharing!

ßrigida ∫chmidt © Copyright said...

Hi Blogtrotter. Which part of the Middle East is MAGHREB? Is it Tunisia? Anyway, your photos are all superb. You and your wife are lovely couple.

Dawning One said...

what a stark country, feels almost devoid of life-joy, some how makes me feel so sad on viewing the photos. it must have been quite an experience for you going there, Gil.

b.c. said...

congratulations on your award! and I loved these photos, my favorite was the colonnades, excellent shot! and the others were very nice. i liked your descriptions too

Anonymous said...

Such an impressive architecture and I adore all those details. Marvelous.

Lakshmi said...

brilliant pics..i like the architecture and colours..thanks for sharing Gil

PeterParis said...

You have been very active during my short absence! I had three posts to read and look at! A great pleasure, as usual... just making me a bit envious!

The Arabian architecture is just fantastic!

Olivier said...

les minarets sont vraiment magnifiques, et le lustre bleu j'adore, c'est magique.

Unknown said...

Agora que descobri este blogue, tenho muito mais com que me entreter, pois aprece que partilhamos o mesmo gosto em conhecer este mundo.
Parabéns pelo que vi até agora! Voltarei em breve.

Unknown said...

Hi Gil, those are amazing pictures esp the first few ones with the blue sky as background. And those is all I can say. tks for sharing :D

My Unfinished Life said...

loved the blue sky and the clouds.....and liked the mosque too...though am not such a lover of islamic art and culture!!!

Shionge said...

So awe-inspiring to be there Gil absolutely stunning :)

eye in the sky said...

magnificent details in "doors"...

Tawnya Shields said...

The artwork in the dome is just amazing. Congrats on the award!

Cutie said...

The architecture is beautiful...

Wendy said...

I love Islamic architecture. Thanks for the tour.

lyliane six said...

Toujours dans la chaleur de la Tunisie, à Paris il a neigé hier, mais ça a fondu tout de suite, en Normandie, pas un flocon!!

Nomadic Matt said...

I think the blue dome is my favorite photo. Islamic architecture is so pretty. very geometric and colorful

lv2scpbk said...

I love the photo of "THE COLONNADE". I like looking around to see what new adventures you come up with.

~vagabond~ said...

What a wonderful location to travel to. And the photos are spectacular. Do keep posting so that we may travel vicariously through you. :D

Dsole said...

Hi Gil!!
WHat a nice report you have made!!
I really love those balconies, I think they're fabulous!!
Have a nice week! Ciaoo

Joy said...

Hey Gil! Your photos really tell a story. Tunisia makes me think of other places with Muslim influences and there are so many similarities among them.

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comments.

A Pinay In England
Your Love Coach
I, Woman

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

Tu as bien servi ce très beau pays.

Anonymous said...

The mosque is a stunning example of Islamic architecture. I like the colonnade, and the wooden enclosed balconies are very interesting.

 gmirage said...

I always wonder why Greek restaurants are painted, sky blue?

I do enjoy looking at these lovely photos! But I'd surely enjoy looking at them in person! WOW!

NormanTheDoxie said...

Looks like a beautiful place to visit....who knew?

Gattina said...

When I saw your pictures first, I thought I have seen this already ! and yes of course I made twice a round trip through Tunesia and visited all these places, lol !

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Thanks for your continuous support, even when I’m not in a position to pay back… Hard times, too busy… :-(
I’m no good at inventing or delivering awards. Otherwise, I would surely create something excellent for my blog friends who never let a single post without a comment; but I would also love to create something (not so excellent, probably) for those from whom a comment seems the most difficult thing to get on earth; I do know some… ;-)).

Thanks again for being the facilitator for that amazing cup! My pleasure to show some of the places I’ve been to, even if some of the pictures are a bit lousy… ;)

It was a bit cold and wet; actually the temperature didn’t get to more than 12º Celsius…

Bon, les tapis sont magnifiques! J’essayerai de voir ton hiver pendant cette semaine… ;)

If you have the guides already, you’re not that far from the country… ;)
Now seriously; Tunisia is a nice place to go, but if you’re moving to Cape Town, you’ll be living in my favourite African town (must confess however that Africa is my least visited continent…).

True that the walls are always amazing in Islamic Art!

It’s a great pleasure to read you here. ALWAYS!!

The Great Mosque of Kairouan is a beautiful monument. But unlike the mosques in Turkey, non-Muslims aren’t allowed inside the building!

Tunisian charm is a nice way of describing those buildings!

My pleasure to show these places here!

Great, indeed!

Great, and not far from where you’re living… ;)

Nous sommes déjà deux à adorer les bleus… ;)
Neige à Paris, pas de neige en Normandie? Ils sont fous ces gens de la météo… ;))

The city is open, but non-Muslim visitors are not allowed inside the buildings of the mosques; just at the patio…

The colonnade, made out of columns brought from everywhere, is amazing!!

My pleasure to show the places and to read you here… Would love to have some more time to travel these days, but unfortunately have no chance to control my time… ;)

Alice SG,
It’s true that space isn’t probably at a premium in Tunisia, but the most of it (in the >South) is already the Sahara desert… Anyhow, you have managed to build in altitude, so the area of your buildings is also quite impressive. Wasn’t it for the weather (one of the most awful I know, sorry…), and Singapore would be a wonderful destination. Even so I love to get there… ;))

I think you got three fabulous places united on this page: the Bardo Museum is absolutely stunning, and though praised in the guides, it’s much better than announced; Sidi Bou Said is a wonderful village, and Kairouan an amazing city! So, you were lucky to drop by at this occasion! ;)

Maghreb is the north-western part of Africa, just south of the Mediterranean Sea and east of the Atlantic Ocean: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Lybia. Nothing to do with Middle East!
Thanks for the compliment; we’re flattered…

Dawning One,
Stark country, devoid of life-joy? It must have been a different country you’re referring to… and I’m not talking about the several Club Med villages you may find there… ;))

Thanks! Those colonnades are impressive; much more than what we may see in the pictures…

I wouldn’t say it’s Granada, but it also has some beautiful buildings…


See that you survived the Aqua Alta! I managed to get some free time to try to keep my delay in posting in only twelve months… ;) Glad that you enjoyed!

Le dôme du lustre bleu est vraiment superbe!

Obrigado! Se se trata de conhecer o mundo, estou pronto, embora cada vez com menos tempo… E são sempre bem vindos os comentários!

The colonnades seem to have been a hit on this post; quite deservedly… ;)

Shooting Star,
Have you ever been to Granada, Spain? I think it would probably change your opinion on Islamic Art… ;)

So great to see you back! I was wondering why you did block us from your blogs… Now everybody is happy to see you back in blogosphere! ;))

Those doors, like the walls, are stunning…

Thanks! Also think that dome is a marvel…

Nice to see something beautiful, to clean the eyes from the junkie architecture one is beaten with everyday… ;)

I knew you have good taste; just see your posts!!

Great to read you here again! I agree with your judgement on Islamic Art, in particular the moçárabe ornamental work!

Hundreds of columns from the most varied Greek and Roman places in Tunisia; quite impressive, indeed!!

My pleasure to make you travel vicariously… Wish I had some more free time to stroll around! ;)

Wow! Great to read you here again! How’s everything? Preparing for the great day on January 6 or did you get a new camera already? ;))

It’s true that there are many similarities, in particular with the quite close to me Seville and Granada…

Merci. L’intention c’était plutôt destinée aux bloggeurs qui visitent qu’au pays lui-même… ;))

Asian Traveler,
It’s not the only example, but it’s quite impressive indeed!!

I tell you: there is no blue like the blue of the Greek sea… No wonder the Greek restaurants reproduce the wonderful colour; but here we are in Tunisia, not in Greece!!

Lisa Shaw,
True; there are some hidden gems in this not so small world… ;))

Twice? You’re the true Trotter… ;)

adelynne said...

I must bring Mariposa with me to Tunisia one day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah; but first, after Spain (you always have to go to Spain...) you must pass through Portugal... ;))

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

J aimerais tant voir Syracuse, l ile de Paques et Kairouan...
Une chanson de Henri Salvador, Yves Montand...

Bonjour de Skåne (Sverige) sous le soleil

Anonymous said...

Bonjour! Du soleil en Suède en décembre est magnifique!!! Syracuse, Ile de Pâques et Kairouan? On a tout ça chez Blogtrotter... ;)))

Thérèse said...

Magnifiques minarets, magnifiques tout! Tellement de choses à découvrir dans cet immense pays. Peut-on jamais en faire le tour?
Bonnes fêtes!

Ming the Merciless said...

This is so jarring after viewing your India photos. There are NOBODY on the street. :-)

Love the tile works everywhere.

Anonymous said...

La Tunisie n'est pas vraiment immense... mais c'est vrai que, comme en Inde, il y a tellement de choses à decouvrir!

Greatly caught: quite a contrast!

A Lady's Life said...

Wow Pillars from Rome and Carthage.

You know the Hindoos built a temple in Canada and it is gorgous. They too imported all the things they needed to make it.
I need to find the picture of it.

Trotter said...

That seems to be an old tradition; the Portuguese also carried some stones to build churches in Brazil, in the sixteenth century... ;)