Congrès STGE02-04 Juin 2016
Congrès STCL26-28 Mai 2016
Congrès STBC12-14 Mai 2016
Sousse is the third city of Tunisia. Located 140 km south of the capital Tunis, the city has 173,047 inhabitants (2004). It is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the >Mediterranean Sea. The name may be of Berber origin: similar names are found in Libya and in the south of Morocco (Bilād al-Sūs). The city is the capital of Sousse Governorate with 540,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate). Its economy is based on transport equipment, processed food, olive oil, textiles and tourism.
Despite the turmoil around it, Sousse's character had retained the solidly Arabian look and feel it had assumed in the centuries after Islam's wars of conquest. Today it is considered one of the best examples of seaward-facing fortifications built by the Arabs. Its ribat, a soaring structure that combined the purposes of a minaret and a watch tower, is in outstanding condition and draws visitors from around the world.
These days, Sousse, retains a medieval heart of narrow, twisted streets, a kasbah and medina, its ribat fortress and long wall on the Mediterranean. Surrounding it is a modern city of long, straight roads and more widely spaced buildings.
Situated in the center of TUNISIA, at the intersection of several routes, and yet only some 30 miles from Port El Kantaoui (the holiday resort of Sousse) is the holy city of Kairouan. It appears like a mirage arising suddenly out of vast steppe-like plains. As the most important Muslim city of North Africa, its cultural and scholastic influence has extended to the fringes of Europe and Asia since the ninth century onwards. As fate would have it, ten centuries after the fall of Carthage, Rome's great rival, little Tunisia again significantly affected the course of history because it was from Kairouan that Tarak Ibn Ziad's conquest of Spain started . With its medina and its ramparts pains-takingly restored, its numerous mosques, Zaouias (mausoleums), other monuments and sites, Kairouan is a town of obvious historical and religious interest. However, it is also a craft center and the current inhabitants have shown themselves to be worthy inheritors of the rich legacy left by the city's founders, preserving traditions and style which are original and authentic.
One of the best examples of this is the well known Kairouan carpet which is famous all over the world. The Great Mosque of Kairouan was built in 1670 by the famous conqueror, Okba ibn Nafaa who established there the capital of Arab-Muslim ilfryqia and the holy city of Islam.
As a center of culture and learning, it attracted many scholars and as a result, a university was founded whose influence extended throughout the Islamic world.
Enriched and consolidated during the course of its history, the Great Mosque has become the imposing monument that it is today. Inside this vast four- sided building, several doors open out, the tow most beautiful being the East door called " the Lala Rihana Doors opens on to the vast courtyard, which has been modified twenty times during the course of its history. It is covered throughout in white marble and has a receptacle in the center for rain water for the faithful to wash themselves. The times of prayer are shown by three sundials.
There is an immediate sensation of purity and quiet contemplation.
Wide doors open on to the hall of prayer, to the innumerable columns of pink and black marble. Side aisles an bays are in accordance with a strict plan where the number eight governs all aspects of the layout. Before us the axial nave, with its heavy hanging chandelier lights beaming down on the 'MIHRAB', and a hollow opening where the Imam is facing Mecca. Here, one hundred and sixty-tow squares bearing different geometric motifs cover the floor. At the side can be seen the 'MINBAR', a pulpit for the Imam, a unique feature sculpted out of wood from Mesopotamia.
" Kairouan leaves a lasting indelible impression on the visitor. It's like something out of one thousand and one nights with its penetrating, intoxicating aroma which is at the same time enlightening…"
Paul klee (1914)
Sturdy ramparts made from uniform stone blocks, into which imposing gates have been installed, enclose the old city and separate it from its more modern counterpart. On our way to BIR BAROUTA, we go up a staircase, and straight on to a small dome under which there is a well which is 12 metres deep, with water which is very pleasant and refreshing. The mechanical grating of a wooden bucket waterwheel turned continuously by a camel can still be heard today. Then, we come out on to the "BLAGHGIA", the leather souk (market).To our right, the water souk, restored and brought into life by a multitude of craft activities. Alongside this, the woollen and weavers souk where you can buy blankets and glistening balls of wool, the Kairouan flannel, the woven and the famous embroidered "KESSA". Break off here for a taste of MAKROUDS little cakes made of semolina and stuffed dates.
Sometimes study centers for religious groups, sometimes Koranic schools sheltering the tomb of a saint, "Zaouia", built in the pure Kairouan architectural style, are scattered around the city like expensive pearls and are an attractive feature of the skyline.
El Djem was built, like almost all Roman settlements in Tunisia, on former Punic settlements. In a less arid climate than today's, Roman Thysdrus prospered especially in the 2nd century, when it became an important centre of olive oil manufacturing for export. It was the seat of a Christian bishop - which is still occupied by a titular Roman Catholic bishop today.
By the early 3rd century AD, when the amphitheatre was built, Thysdrus rivaled Hadrumetum (modern Sousse) as the second city of Roman North Africa, after Carthage. However, following the abortive revolt that began there in 238 AD, and Gordian I's suicide in his villa near Carthage, Roman troops loyal to the Emperor Maximinus Thrax destroyed the city. It never really recovered.
How thorough the destruction was in the 3rd century is not known. Perhaps there was a garbage dump at Thysdrus like the one at Oxyrhyncus.
El Djem is famous for its amphitheatre (often incorrectly called "a coliseum"), capable of seating 35,000 spectators. Only Rome's Colosseum (about 45,000 spectators) and the ruined theatre of Capua are larger. The amphitheatre at El Djem was built by the Romans under proconsul Gordian, who was acclaimed Emperor at Thysdrus, around 238 and was probably mainly used for gladiator shows and chariot races (like in Ben-Hur). It is also possible that construction of the amphitheatre was never finished.
The ruins of the amphitheatre were declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.