Located in the center of Tunisia in a plain at an almost equal distance from the sea and the mountain, Kairouan is the oldest Arab-Muslim base in the Maghreb and one of its main Holy cities. Capital of Ifriqiya for five centuries, it has been a place of exceptional diffusion of the Arab-Muslim civilization.
Kairouan was founded by Okba Ibn Nafaâ in 670, despite the hostility of the Berber populations, who revolted under the leadership of the prophetess Al Kahena. But they were forced to give in and Kairouan became capital. He erected the great mosque of Kairouan, which remains one of the most prestigious monuments of Islam.
The aghlabids pushed their conquest through Ifriqiya and occupied the whole of the Maghreb.
Thus Kairouan became prosperous and famous. Its status has earned it to be a holy city of Islam, the fourth after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
Despite the transfer of the political capital to Tunis in the 12th century, Kairouan remained the first holy city in the Maghreb.
Touristic sights of Kairouan
- The Great Mosque
Built in 669 and enlarged in 774,is one of the major monuments of Islam but also a masterpiece of universal architecture. The numerous but limited alterations did not affect the layout of this place of prayer forming a quadrilateral of 135 meters by 80 meters and including, to the south, a hypostyle prayer hall of seventeen naves supported by a forest of columns In marble and porphyry and, to the north, a vast paved courtyard bordered by porticos interrupted, along the axis of the small north side, by the massive form of a minaret of square plan with three floors.
The mosque has served as a model for several North African mosques, particularly with regard to the decorative motifs of which it has a unique repertoire.
- The Three Doors Mosque
Built in 866 AD, is the oldest mosque with a carved facade of Islam known to date.
- The Aghlabid Basin
An open-air reservoir formed by two communicating cisterns which dates back to the 9th century, constitute one of the most beautiful hydraulic assemblies designed to supply the city with water in the form of a polygon with 48 sides measuring 28 meters in diameter.
- The medina of Kairouan
Sheltered by its walls and doors (Bab and Tounes, Bab el Khoukha, Bab ech Chouhada), the medina of Kairouan, dominated by the minarets and domes of its mosques and zaouïas, retains its network of streets Its tortuous terraced houses with exterior walls sparsely pierced with small windows and doorways with arched arches, with interior walls more widely open onto the central courtyard. This traditional architecture, constitutes a Precious heritage.
- The Zaouïa of Sidi Sahâb
Wonderful architectural complex whose main characteristics are the courtyard, the dome, the mausoleum, and the medersa richly decorated with medieval tiled panels.Houses the remains of Abu Djama, one of Muhammad’s companions. Thirty-eight years after the Prophet’s death.
- Bir Barrouta
The oldest well of Kairouan (796 AD) protected by a small domed building. Water is drawn by a wooden noria powered by a dromedary.
- The Sidi Abid El Ghariani Mausoleum
Is one of the most impressive examples of Arab-Andalusian architecture richly decorated in wood and ceramic with Koufi inscriptions.
Kairouan is a unique testimony to the first centuries of this civilization and its architectural and urban development.