“Medina mediterranea” is first and foremost the realization of a dream. The one where the ancient Arab City has been found and has been rekindled. A construction period of ten years, decorators and technicians in large numbers, not less than a thousand masons at work, all of this was necessary for this idea to take shape and for this to become reality. The city has risen in its medieval contours with its multiple references to the past and its modern prowess. Tribute to the Tunisian cultural inheritance with all of its beauty and to a Mediterranean mother of civilizations, the discovery of cultures and religions, proof of a future, and final for a new tourism. To the nostalgic of our Mediterranean past, to the lovers of the art and creation, to the adults who have remained children at heart, the promoter dedicated the famous "Médina mediterranea".
Surrounded by authentic medieval ramparts, “Medina Mediterranea” is an exceptional place with its cultural and tourist aspect. Medina will make you travel in the glorious past, will take you over the ancestral traces and make you live to the rhythm of the ancient legends.
This new "Medina" is punctuated with buildings that recall all the medina in what they have preserved most beautiful and most characteristic, in Tunisia and elsewhere: Kairouan, Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Mahdia, Marrakech, Cordoba, Seville, Palermo, Aleppo. It also refers to some highlights of Tunisian tourism such as coffee mats or coffee Sidi Bou Said. Our "Medina" thus brings together in an eclectic spirit, the masterpieces of the great Mediterranean medinas. A medina made of places of memory that unfold in the eyes of the traveler all the beauty of the Hispano-Moorish art and oriental art at the same time.
Located at the west side of the Medina Méditerranea, on front of its emblematic main entrance. It is named after "Bab Skifa al kahla", the last vestige of the ancient walls of the Tunisian city of Mahdia, built in the 10th century. It survived the assault launched on the city five centuries later by the most powerful Christian monarch, Charles Quint. The Skifa al Kahla was the only land entrance gate of the city, at the time surrounded by the sea and by very powerful walls. Its name refers to the long dark vestibule that extended the entrance porch. The monument here restored its architecture, while making some modifications to the level of its opening, shorter.
Skifa al Kahla has always fascinated Arab and Western authors. It represents the greatness of Fatimid architecture, an immense dynasty that ruled over two centuries over North Africa, Sicily and parts of the Middle East. In the eyes of the Tunisians, it is also the symbol of patriotism and resistance to all the assailants. The Medina Méditerranea takes up all this symbolism by making some modifications in the type of opening, the vaults and the suppression of the long dark vestibule, the same one which gave its name to the entrance. The idea being to get out of the darkness and go to the light.
In front of the gate “al-Skifa al-Kahla”, these two horse statues remind us that the famous bearded horse is native of the Maghreb. Named in reference to the first Berber inhabitants, the bearded horse, graceful and excellent runner, was often offered as a gift to kings and foreign dignitaries.
According to a legend, the Bey of Tunis Hussein Ben Ali had offered in 1731 to Louis XV, king of France, a beard horse and seven other stallions. But the horse, named El Sham, never arrived at the royal stables. Without knowing why, he finds himself in the hands of an English gentleman, Edouard Cook, who in London offers him to his friend, the Marquis de Godolphin. El Sham is noticed in an epic battle, and Godolphin admireshim with an English mare. Three foals, future great champions, are born from this projection. They are the ancestors of nearly 354 competition winners.
El Sham the bearded horse would thus be at the origin of one of the most prestigious line of thoroughbred English, very wanted for the race. The most serious specialists agree to tell this story with some variants, oscillating between beard horse and Arabian horse who is a native of the Middle East.
Located at the east side of the Medina Méditerranea, the wall is pierced by a second door whose name recalls this time that of one of the doors of the city of Sfax. Sfax was founded by the Aghlabids of the ninth century; It was under their rule that its Berber name of "Isphaqus" was given to it, it means the city protected by a belt. Surrounded by a solid wall, delimiting a total area of 24 hectares, the medina had only two entrances, one to the north called Bab al-Jabli and the other to the south called Bab al Diwan. The limitation of the number of gates comes from the fact that the ancients often regarded the gates as points of weakness, which had to be defended, even if part of the economic activities took place there. The door was then used as a place of trade as well as an organ of defense and protection.
This is precisely the case of the seaport of the city of Sfax, called Bab al Diwan, which it formerly gave on the anchorage of the city, Marcha, and gathered around it, in an esplanade, the money changers, the merchants of the port, Sailors and fishermen. It was from this gate that the products of the handicraft and agriculture of Sfax, as well as salt, alfa and sponges passed through to the Muslim East and the Christian West. It was there that the goods imported from Europe were unloaded. Facing this door, was the European quarter which was built in the 18th century by the Bey of Tunis on land won over the sea. Bab al Diwan has access to double baffles, has been the object of several campaigns And restoration, from the aghlabid period, date of its construction, until recently. During the Sfax uprising against the French occupation, Bab Al Diwan was severely affected by the bombardments, but its restorations are careful to preserve its historical character.
Located at the east side of the Medina Mediterranea, a majestic building topped by a red dome evokes one of the jewels of Arab architecture in Sicily. It is the Saint-John of the Hermits in Palermo, a former mosque transformed into a church.
In the year 827, the Aghlabid army, part of the port of Sousse and directed by Asad ibn al- Fourat, definitively conquered Sicily. It is now part of Ifriqiya, the future Tunisia. Thus, for 250 years, the island is under Arab domination: aghlabid, then fatimid. A large mosque, surmounted by red domes, is built on the site of an ancient church.
At the beginning of the 11th century, Sicily was conquered by the Normans. This people, from the North of Europe, is dazzled by the splendor of Arab civilization. Roger II, the first king of Normandy Sicily, and his son Guillaume, have the intelligence to preserve it and even to appropriate it. Thus they preserve the use of the Arabic language, and surround themselves with Arab administrators and scholars. Roger II of Sicily did not destroy the mosque, but transformed it into a church. It remains to this day the most "Arab" monument of Palermo.
The unfinished ramparts, giving the impression of being demolished, which we observe on the eastern side of the Medina Méditerranea recall an important and painful historical episode in the history of Tunisia at the end of the nineteenth century. The French colonization in 1881. This protectorate is established on May 12, the day of the signing of the treaty of Ksar Al Said, or treaty of the Bardo. Sfax is an important city with a population of 20,000 and a flourishing economy. The kid Ali Ben Khalifa, of the tribe of the Effect, rejects the authority of the French and takes to the head of the revolt, soon joined by the population. The Bey tries in vain to calm the spirits but the contest does not weaken.
Tensions escalated when the French Consul, General Rostand, dispatched warships to protect the 800 Europeans who lived there. On 28 June, clashes took place, resulting in the death of a Maltese and the wound of the Vice Consul. France then decided to react. On July 14, 1881, the French fleet, strong of 50,000 soldiers, led the assault against Sfax. A fierce urban guerrilla is opposed to the French army, but can do nothing. In two days, the city is taken by assault, the maritime ramparts heavily bombed. These ramparts thus symbolize the heroism of the martyrs, who died for their city and for Tunisia.
The tower of the Medina mediterranea is a more or less modified replica of that of Seville. It presents the same look, the same invoice and the same general appearance. However, the architect Tarek ben Miled brought him his personal touch by adding a lantern borrowed from the work of the Italian architect Francesco Borromini (1559-1667), a follower of the baroque style to which we owe the church Sant Ivo alla Sapienza of Rome. The Seville gold tower was part of the defensive system of the city in the Almohad period, built in 1220-1221, it was an advanced station on the river Guadalquivir. Chains permitted from the tower and the opposite bank to close the access to the port of the city to protect it from possible aggressors. Dodecagonal in shape, it is particularly elegant and presents a ceramic decoration, a first in Andalusia at the time. The particular form of the tower may be of Byzantine or Roman inspiration.
Today on the banks of the river it is one of the most beautiful testimonies of the Muslim civilization of Seville. The tower is octagonal, it has three superimposed floors and ends with a parapet protected by pyramid-shaped battlements in vogue under the Almohads. On each floor there is a cell. The origin of the tower is uncertain, and is sometimes attributed to a Roman origin. Under the Almohades it was connected to the Alcazar by walls, and supported one extremity of the iron chain which barred the river, the other end of which was to be attached in front of buttresses of masonry. It was erected to facilitate the control and protection of the palaces situated on the southern part of the city, and to guard the port of the city by which the goods of the East arrived and the spices of India, , To various destinations of the Mediterranean, the oil of the Aljarafaria and the cereals of the Sevillian countryside. The name of "Torr del Oro", a tower of gold, comes to him, saying that the gold brought from America in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was enclosed by the galleons. In 1760 the upper parts of the tower were added. But originally it was covered with a whitewash, it was also one of the first Muslim buildings of the Peninsula to present a ceramic decoration.
In 1900, during the restorations, the glazed ceramic panels and bands that decorated the second-floor facings were redone. It seems, however, that the green ribbons which surround the arches already existed in the thirteenth century. Today it is a maritime museum that houses a collection of 400 pieces well presented to make understand the importance of the maritime history of Seville and the strong link that unites Seville to the river. By giving a replica of the golden tower, and keeping its nickname our medina invites us to the journey and makes us discover an emblematic monument of Muslim Spain.
The blue tower is a tribute to Yves Saint-Laurent, a nod to the famous Majorelle garden, which can be admired in Marrakech. Created in the early 1920s by French artist and decorator Jacques Majorelle, he designed a marvelous garden and built a villa in Moorish style and art deco, inspired by the modern architecture of Le Corbusier.
In 1937, the artist created the "Majorelle blue", a cobalt ultramarine blue which he painted the walls of his villa, then all those of his garden, to make a living picture that he opened to the public. In order to save him from the disappearance, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger bought and occupied it in 1980. 30 years later, the villa is transformed into a museum. In the Medina Méditerranea, the blue tower is also a restaurant-show, on the theme of the thousand and one nights and Shéhérazade. Oriental and folk dances, accompanied by traditional music and all the flavors of oriental cuisine, are offered in an original setting.
The Médina Méditerranéa offers the synthesis of the most emblematic souks of the Muslim world. They are organized around a central covered street on which open a series of fondouks al- Baghdadi, khan alkhalili, al-Hamidiya, al-Atarine, souk Marrakech ... Clearly the eastern eastern souks and the souks Tunisians.The souk al-Baghdadi
It is just a nod to the prestigious Baghdad of the Abbasids, the round town of the great caliphs of the 8th-9th centuries. The shopping district of Baghdad was located extramuros and was called el-Karkh. The most precious commodities converged towards the capital of the Empire, the Far East as well as the West. For Baghdad is the capital of Harun al-Rashid who sent a clepsydra, a water clock, a chess game and an elephant to Charlemagne, who sent him the finest Flanders sheets of the time.The Aleppo style Hispano-Maghreb Souk
It is a souk covered in length and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1986. It dates back to the 14th century and it also includes all activities. For example, the souk of the soap, khan al-saboun; The souk al-harir which manufactures silk which previously arrived in raw bales from China through the Silk Road and which was converted to Aleppo into a luxury product; The jewelry souk which consisted of 99 shops.The Souk al-Hamidiya
This Damascus souk is a straight and wide street that leads from Bab al-Nasr, the Gate of Victory, to the Umayyad Mosque. Built in 1803 under the reign of the Ottoman sultan Abdelhamid whose name it bears, its shops offer all kinds of merchandise, clothing, fabrics, brocades, carpets, mosaics, brass and silver The mosque, the booksellers ...The Khan al-Khalili
It had been erected by a great emir mamluk named Jaharkas al-Khalili (1389). The word khan is Persian, it means caravanserai and it has become today the most famous bazaar of Cairo.The souk al-Atarine
It is the souk of the perfumers of the medina of Tunis, souk noble by the very nature of these goods and by its proximity with the great mosque Zaytûna. It was the first Hafsid sultans who created it in the 13th-14th centuries. It is indeed the souk of incense, perfumes, henna, Kohl (antimony), various plants and minerals used in the preparation of cosmetics. Candles and candles are also sold, and the quilted satin baskets are used to carry gifts from the bridegroom to his future wife.The Souk de la Goulette
The Souk de la Goulette is very picturesque. This small port city on the northern outskirts of Tunis was inhabited mainly by Sicilian fishing families and leather goods. By extension the word designates a ministerial function; This is how we speak of a ministerial portfolio
The coffee mats called the top coffee: one of the emblematic cafes of Sidi Bou Said. It is the heart of the village and a meeting place. The entrance is composed of two terraces separated by stairs that lead to the interior of the room. Inside the dokkana / masonry benches covered with red and green mats like the columns that frame them. Paintings, shelves and brass decorate the walls. It corresponds to the old door of the mosque and the mausoleum of Sidi Bou Said, the patron saint from which the village takes its name.
Customers usually come to drink a "Turkish" coffee flavored with orange blossom or sip a tea with mint and pine nuts, smoke hookah, play cards, chkouba / skopa, this Catalan game that arrived in Tunisia Via Sicily. At certain hours and in good weather, customers invest the terraces and tables are even set down on the small esplanade surrounded by shops.
This café is a tribute to the great Egyptian singer, musician and actress Oum Kalthoum, nicknamed the Astre d'Orient (1898-1975). Her songs are listened to and appreciated throughout the Arab world and especially in Tunisia, a country she visited in May 1968, a year after the defeat of the Egyptian army during the war of 1967. It was at the time Welcomed with great pomp by President Habib Bourguiba and gave two concerts at the El Menzah stadium in Tunis.
A beautiful staircase distinguishes in two parts this place of relaxation. Below, the café Oum Kalthoum bears the name of the one found in Cairo, a true temple to the memory of this great Egyptian singer. Its followers can hear, from morning to evening, the voice of the eternal "damsel". Here the walls are decorated with his engraved portrait and extracts of his songs.
At the top, the café El Alia evokes that of Sidi Bou Said, also known as mats coffee. It is renowned for its breathtaking view, dominating the village from the top of its monumental staircase. It is equipped with an original room, with beautiful traditional decoration.
In the heart of La Marsa, a small town on the northern outskirts of Tunis, Saf Saf Café attracts many people, summer and winter alike. This old 18th century cafe features an ancient well dating back to still earlier times. It is covered with zellig tiles: Andalusian faience. A beautiful noria, bucket wheel serves to raise the water of the well thanks to a camel that turns tirelessly. The great painters of the 1950s, Yahya Turki, Noureddine Khayachi and Jellal Ben Abdallah frequented Saf Saf and represented him in their paintings. The great Tunisian singers like Naama and Ali Riahi celebrated it in their songs. It has remained very popular and very frequented by Tunisians and now also by tourists.
"Who has not buried the memory of one afternoon in Saf Saf at La Marsa? They are rare the Tunisians who have not attended at least once in their lives this mythical coffee which crystallizes in the well preserved traditions all the Tunisian savoir-vivre, combining simplicity and sweetness, austerity and good taste: the brik à l ' Egg, tuna and harissa snack, mechmoum (jasmine bouquet), halleb (jar), mint tea, Turkish coffee and exquisite jokes by playing an umpteenth part of Chichebiche (back gammon) and chotrange (chess). Popular cafe if it is but frequented by the bourgeois, artists, tourists, meeting space, highlight of memory, Saf Saf is all this at the same time "Ridha Kefi.
The word Errahaba, rahba in Tunisian, is an ancient word, surely of Assyrian origin, which subsists in the vocabulary of the Arab city. It evokes the Greek agora or the Roman forum. However, rahba is not a central place, as was the case of the Roman Forum, but often a gaping space, surrounded by small constructions without precise functions.
An integral part of the Arab medinas, like Rbath el Halfaouine, of Tunis, and place Jemâa el-Fna, of Marrakech, the rahba of our medina mediterranea is a place of encounter and animation. Testimony of the various communities that live in Tunisia, the buildings are of Italian, Tunisian, Moroccan and Oriental style.