Tunisia sits on the northern coast of
Africa and features ancient walled cities (medinas), amazing Roman ruins,
a Mediterranean coastline, and pristine deserts that have once been home
to an astonishing variety of people: from the Berbers to the Phoenician,
Roman & Byzantine empires, the Nazis and allied troops AND to top
it all off -- the cast and crew of Star Wars (not to be confused with
any of the other groups of course).
Dale and I traveled to Tunisia on the recommendation
of friends, ate lots of fish couscous and struggled heroically to find
beer in some of our smaller stop offs. Tunisia is considered one of the
more liberal and modern Islamic countries (most bigger cities & tourist
destinations did have beer). However it is still a very separate society;
I never got used to going out to restaurants and being the only woman
Here are pictures from our three main stops
in Tunisia: the highlight, El Jem; the capital city of Tunis, and the
beach towns of Cape Bon.
This is inside of the amazing
ruins El Jem. It sits in the middle of nowhere, dwarfing a small
modern town that has been cobbled together around it. Most of
the books call it the most impressive Roman monument in all of
Ok, so the Romans weren't really that tall.
Why did they build hallways so high? The size of the archways
played a key role in allowing light into these many passageways.
This picture gives you an idea of the size
of all of those little arches you see in the background of the
Here is a shot looking down into the floor
of the coliseum. My guidebook says the typical menu of entertainment
besides the gladiator battles included a pre match of shackled
criminals being left to the mercies of the lions, followed by
the Christians who also faced the lions, but sans shackles. You
can also see that there was practically no one else at this amazing
place. Quite different from the coliseum in Rome.
In general, the Romans loved those coliseums.
Theory had it that if people were kept distracted by the sight
of men and wild animals dying in distress, their problems didn't
seem that bad. This coliseum was estimated to hold 30,000 people,
far more than the population of the surrounding town.
Here is down below the coliseum, where the
gladiators, criminals and other participants were kept. Considerably
less light and airy than above.
The renovations have replaced part of the
coliseum floor with metal grating, which made it much less dreary
down there, but also gave an interesting perspective. I still
wouldn't want to spend much time down there, even with the new
Dale in one of the doorways.
Here's a view from one of the porticos looking
out on the town.
Street scene leading into the coliseum.
A picture from the outside with the flag of
Tunisia in front
These two shots are of some
of the different arch and passage ways at the base of the arena.
The arena on the south side is nearly intact
and makes for some great exploring.
You could rent a camel and walk around the paved streets surrounding
the coliseum if you really wanted to stick out. To the right
is another view from one of the archways of the coliseum