The Phoenicians’ Route – Tunisia

The great Phoenician colonial expansion has marked, in particular, the history of the area that today corresponds to Tunisia. Here, in fact, at the end of the IX century BC, and more specifically in 814 BC, Carthage was founded by settlers from Tyre, one of the largest and most powerful cities of Phoenicia (corresponding to present Lebanon). But the Phoenician presence in the western Mediterranean dates even further back in time, at the end of the II millennium BC: according to the sources, in fact, Utica was founded by Tyre’s settlers almost 300 years before Carthage, in 1101 BC.


The Tunisian territory leads to the discovery of numerous Punic sites located both on the coasts and inland. Therefore, it is possible to talk about total penetration in Tunisia. Among the main settlements, in addition to Utica, we can mention HadrumetumKerkouane in the region of Cap Bon, ThapsusGerbaMaktarDouggaSicca and Cartago, obviously: the Mediterranean queen and Rome’s great enemy. Little remains today of the glorious city, fundamental bridgehead of Phoenician expansionism. Archaeological areas are scattered within the modern city, characterized by prestigious building. The result is a lack of an overall view, but you cannot deny the thrilling overview of the city from the hill of Byrsa where the Archaeological Museum and the Saint Louis Cathedral are located.

Tunisian past is not only Carthaginian but also Roman (it was one of the richest and most flourishing Provinces of the Roman Empire), Numidian, Vandal, Byzantine and Arab. A past of many facets that intersect, overlap and sometimes cancel each other out in a surprising manner.

The pearl of Tunis is the Bardo Palace, an ancient building dated back to the XVII century, which houses the most important Tunisian museum, probably one of the largest collections of the entire Mediterranean basin.

El Djem shows up with its great amphitheatre. One of the best preserved Roman buildings in Africa, a true architectural gem that embellished the ancient city of Thysdrus.

The first Islam bridgehead in Maghreb, Kairouan is a holy city where you can breathe an atmosphere of quiet, respect and deep faith that contributes to the exaltation of the beauty of sacred monuments, world heritage. The Great Mosque is the eye-catcher.

Sbeitla, the ancient Sufetula, is a flash of Roman history escaped the erosion of time: it majestically rises from a vast tableland to over 500 meters of altitude. The Gate of Antoninus stands at the entrance to the forum, whose vast square was completely enclosed by arcades. Here, the three temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva catch people’s eye and make visible the grandeur of the entire city plant.

Still Rome. Other imposing imperial ruins have been preserved in Dougga, the ancient Roman Thugga. One of the most interesting and best preserved archaeological sites in the whole Mediterranean area.