Tozeur, The Door of The Desert

Tozeur is a city in southern Tunisia whose history dates back to 3000 BC, it is an old settlement, especially during the prehistoric civilization of the Capsian and, like all North Africa, is based on a Berber background even if the local tradition does not claim it, it is in fact positioned on an Arabity which is the link with the prophet Mohammed. Very quickly, it becomes an active center of the trans-Saharan caravan trade frequented by the Carthaginians. It was Ptolemy who called him Tisouros In 148 BC. The Romans, in full conquest of the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, settle there in 33 BC. J-C., the city then taking the name of Thusuros in the Table of Peutinger, the remains of this time remain rare but visible in Tozeur, like the vestiges of an old Roman presence. This is the case with the existence of some cut stones in some Seguias distributors in the wadi or even in ancient blocks like those around the base of the tower (a former minaret) of al-Hadar. Similarly, the district of Helba, today inhabited by Rkarka, is reputed to contain the ruins of an ancient city.

Beyond that, there remain only the testimonies of Pliny the Elder, certainly lyrical but precious, describing the paradisiacal beauty of the place. The city becomes a post on the Saharan limes, on the Roman road from Gabes to Biskra, specializing in the trade of dates and slaves. From the Christian influence under St. Augustine, there remain the remains of a church later taken over by the El Kasr mosque, located in Bled al-Hadhar, and some rites like the Sidi Yuba which is to baptize the boys before the circumcision. During the Middle Ages, the region of Tozeur is called “country of Qastiliya” name mentioned by the famous Arab geographer Al-Bakri (1014-1094) because of the succession of fortified villages called castella, which transforms over the time Tozeur and its surroundings in a refuge for various dissidents (Christian donatists, Shiites, and Kharijites). The protesting spirit of the inhabitants, who develop a strong identity, pushes them to provoke a revolt led by Abu Yazid for twelve years against the Fatimid regime (935-947). They also found independent principalities of the central power which are eventually reconquered by the Hafsids. According to another approach more mythological than historical, the word Qastiliya refers to Qustal, son of Sem and grandson of Noah who founded the city after the flood.

Until the twelfth century, Tozeur is a thriving cultural center welcoming many theologians and seeing develop an oral tradition among the richest in the Maghreb and a poetic tradition that continues until the twentieth century, especially through Abu el Kacem Chebbi the great poet of the time. Abu Abdallah Ibn Ali Ibn Al Shabbat Al Touzri is the real name of Ibn Shabbat born in 1221 in Tozeur and died on July 19, 1282 – a man of letters, mathematician, poet, lawyer (cadi in Tozeur and tutor at the mosque Zitouna of Tunis ) but above all a horticulturist and hydraulic engineer, to whom we owe the conception and the realization of important avant-garde works on the cultivation of the palm tree and the notable improvement of a system of distribution of waters which still works today in several oases southern Tunisia. Its 12th-century plan is exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions of Tozeur. The city develops outside its palm grove and has a great economic boom until its peak in the fourteenth century. The historian Ibn Khaldoun recounts the important activity that Tozeur experienced at that time: “Every day, some thousand dromedaries came out of the city to Africa and Asia. “

In the eighteenth century, Tozeur is also called Bled el Kasba because we find, in front of the city, the remains of a great fortress of Roman origin. The enclosure, called by the inhabitants “El-Kasba”, contains the remains of an old canal and important ruins. Not to mention the famous English traveler Thomas Shaw (1694-1751), who had in 1730, visiting Tozeur, reports the commercial importance of the city so much that local merchants went to Ethiopia to seek slaves at the price of two or three Tunisian quintals per slave.

Remaining a city of destination or passage for large caravans until the nineteenth century, when Tozeur folds on the production of dates. It is then, according to the testimony of the count of Paty de Clam who visited it at the end of the 19th century, the largest, the most important, and the most beautiful oasis of the Jerid. Some European travelers, during this period, will even go so far as to indicate that the city of Tozeur was as big as that of Algiers. Towards the 1950s, and despite the fact that the municipality was created on July 23, 1888, the development of the neighboring mining towns of Metlaoui and Redeyef, saw the population of Tozeur decrease.

Architectural aspect and town planning
Much of the ancient city is built of clay bricks (valued today for tourism purposes). On the facades, the masons created relief patterns inspired by carpets and calligraphy. They are placed so as to increase the surface of the wall which is in the shade. The houses of one of the oldest districts of Tozeur (Ouled el-Hadef) are thus endowed with this architecture, its small alleys forming a true labyrinth, date from the fourteenth century.

The first private Tunisian museum founded in 1990, the Dar Cheraït museum houses a collection of many works of art and utensils testifying to the life of Tunisian families during different eras even if it is very little focused on local life.

In the early 1990s, the Tunisian government undertook to develop Saharan tourism. A dozen luxury hotels are born to attract tourists with turnkey stays. In May 2008, the region including Tozeur, Nefta, and Tamerza has 41 hotel units including three five-star establishments, and welcomed 338,000 visitors in 2007. The average length of stay of tourists remains low; some explain it by the fact that they are passing through organized tours from seaside resorts while others argue that this limited number is explained by an orientation towards high-end tourism. Tozeur-Nefta International Airport, launched in 1980 and dedicated to charters, has a capacity of 400,000 passengers. It is in this context that is the development of a golf course, the Oasis Golf, inaugurated in the desert in November 2006. In addition, golf was installed on land taken on the desert, on the right bank of the wadi, and do not touch the palm grove.
The Ras El Aïn belvedere park, whose center consists of an artificial rock made of clay and metal, is located at the entrance of the golf course, it is dedicated to the poet Abou el Kacem Chebbi, a native of Tozeur. It is also called “lovers park” because it is lined with large bilingual ceramic plates (Arabic-French) bearing texts celebrating love. And of course many other interesting places to visit such as :

o Chott El Jerid
o Tamerza Canyon
o Star Wars Tunisia
o Eden Palm Treasures of the Oasis
o Sidi Bouhlel Canyon
o The Old Quarter of Ouled el Hadef
o Chak Wak
o Red Lezard
o Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions
o Tozeur Market
o Sahara Lounge
o Golf Oasis Tozeur
o Ali Touareg Tour Guide
o Dghoumès National Park

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Hallo Tunisia

Local Travel Agent Tunisia

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(2) Comments

  1. 3udqyX2b

    Quite good publish, i surely really like this internet site, maintain on it

    1. Tunisian

      Thank you!

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