A Guide to The Ruins of Carthage Tunisia - Tunisia Guru (2024)


The Ruins of Carthage are known internationally. Carthage is a ritzy seaside neighborhood in the capital city of Tunis. Walk around Carthage and you are bound to run into ruins on every street corner. Your eyes will be mesmerized by the beautiful french colonial homes and modern villas, alongside magnificent views of the Mediterranean. Here’s a guide to get you through the Ruins of Carthage on its Archeological site.

Table of Contents

History of Carthage Tunisia

Carthage’s history begins with its founding in 814 B.C.E by the Phoenician Queen Dido. Carthage’s Phoenician name was the “New City” or “Kart-hadasht”, to distinguish itself from Utica. Utica was an older Phoenician establishment nearby. The Romans named the city Carthago, after the Greeks name for it Karchedon. Originally Carthage served as a small port for Phoenician traders to stop by if needed. With time it turned into one of the greatest port cities in the Mediterranean. Once it grew to a powerful city, Carthage became a rival to both Rome and Greek.

Hannibal, a Carthaginian general expanded the empire by conquering most of Africa, Rome, and Spain. He led his 70,000 men alongside elephants across the Swiss Alps to conquer Rome. However, he was severely defeated. Seeking revenge, Rome attacked Carthage. Roman General Scipio Aemilianus besieged the city for three years. When Carthage fell the Romans destroyed the city.

Utica became the main city of Power. Julius Caesar rebuilt Carthage. Carthage once again became an important city until the fall of the Roman Empire.

After the Roman Empire, Carthage would be invaded by several different civilizations. Firstly, the Byzantine Empire invaded Carthage. They maintained the Roman influence over Carthage. The Byzantine fought many times with the Vandals. They were successful in keeping them away from Carthage. However, The Byzantine Empire would be conquered by the Muslims. The Muslims used many of the ruins of Carthage to build what is present-day Tunis.

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Getting Around Carthage

You can go from one site to another on foot. Most of the historical sites of Carthage are within a five-minute walking distance from each other. If you are visiting on a hot day I would recommend getting a cab for the day. You should discuss the price beforehand. You can also hire a tour guide who can take you through the different historical sites of Carthage.

Ruins of Carthage and Mosque

The archaeological site of Carthage is a Unesco World Heritage site. For 10 dinars you are able to enter all the Historical sites listed below with the exception of the Cathedral. I would recommend doing them in the order listed below.

Punic Port

There is not much visible to the naked eye of the Punic Port today. What remains is the shape of the ports and the water. The Phoenicians designed the port to trick their enemies into thinking it was just a merchant port. A narrow channel linked the southern merchant port to the northern naval port, making it appear as if there was no naval base there. The Romans rebuilt the port to transport wheat. Today the Punic and Roman ruins of the port are underwater. There is a small museum where you can view models of each port.

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Baths of Antoninus

The baths are named after Emperor Antoninus Pius. The Romans built the baths between 146 AD to 162 AD. These baths are the largest baths in Africa and one of the largest baths that the Roman Empire has built. The Baths of Antoninus were unique in their design due to their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. The baths have a deep foundation. As a result, the Romans built the baths on the second floor. The lower floor was for staff rooms, storerooms, and water supplies. The Romans designed the baths to reflect their proximity to the sea. There was an open-air pool facing the sea, as well as access to the water via a grand staircase.

The baths were similar to Roman baths in the way they functioned. The bathes had separate spaces for men and women. There was a cold room (central frigidarium), warm room (tepidarium), and a hot room (caldaria) for separate space.

What remains today is just the ground floor. The second floor of baths collapsed. However, you can still picture the grandeur and just how complex and extensive these baths were.

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Roman Villas

The Roman Villas are the ruins of the former upper-class homes under the Roman empire rule in Carthage. Villa of the Aviary is the only villa that remains on the site. This beautiful Villa overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, with well-preserved columns and mosaics. The ancient pathway of the neighborhood remains, as well as several mosaic pieces.

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The Roman theatre of Carthage

Built in the second century against the hillside this theater could seat around 10,000 spectators. Today the reconstructed theatre hosts concerts and live music venues. Every year it hosts the International Festival of Carthage.Across the streets you can see the ruins of old cisterns.

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Byrsa hill

Byrsa was the original name of the citadel that was above the Punic harbor. Additionally, it was also the name of the hill the citadel was on. The legend of Byrsa says that when Queen Dido was seeking exile from her homeland Tyre, she and her followers settled in Byrsa upon their arrival in North Africa. The local Berber chief offered them as much land as a single ox hide could cover. Dido cut the oxhide into strips and completely encompassed Byrsa. Both locals and other residents of Utica, a Phoenician settlement nearby urged for the building of the city.

At the end of the legend Dido throws herself into the fire. There are various speculations on why she did it. Some say to protect her city, others her marriage, and some speculate she did it after abandonment from her lover Aeneas, a famous Trojan leader.

Today Byrsa Hill contains part of the original ruins of the Punic city of Carthage as well as the St. Louis Cathedral.

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Acropolium of Carthage (a.k.a St. Louis Cathedral)

Abbot Pougnet built the Acropolium of Carthage in 1830. The Acropolium was dedicated to King Louis IX. He died in Carthage on his way to Jerusalem. Hussein II Bey granted permission to France to build the chapel on the grounds of ancient Carthage. He allowed them to take as much land as they needed. They built the Acropolium on Byrsa Hill. The architectural style of the cathedral is Gothic and Byzantine. Today, the Acropolium is a cultural center. The museum houses several well-preserved mosaics, artifacts, and statues.

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The Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage

The Roman Amphitheater was built in the 1st century AD and then rebuilt by Julius Caesar. This amphitheater is one of the largest amphitheaters of its time. The Amphitheatre can hold up to 30,000 spectators. The basem*nt facilities, house a modern chapel dedicated to two saints. This amphitheater is one of three in Africa built on flat ground rather than a hill.

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The Al Abidine Mosque / Malik ibn Anas mosque

Located on the Hill of Oden, The Al Abidin Mosque, named after Tunisia’s former autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is the more modern site in Carthage. This mosque opened in 2003 and encompasses a prayer hall that can hold up to 1,000 worshipers, an inner courtyard as well as a 9-meter minaret. This stunning mosque is definitely worth a stop for a photo op. After the Tunisian Revolution and the ousting of Ben Ali, the mosque was renamed to Malik ibn Anas, a Muslim jurist, theologian, and hadith traditionist contributed to formulating early Islamic legal doctrines.

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Basilica of Damous El Karita

Next to the Malik ibn Anas Mosque are the ruins of the Basilica of Damous El Karita. This Basilica dates back from late Antiquity and the Byzantine era. In the complex, there were two churches, one martyrium, one hypogeum, and an underground rotunda. Experts believe the Basilica hosted religious pilgrimages and festivals. The first Christian monument discovered in Carthage is the Basilica. The archeologists never completely excavated the Basilica. The archeological research that has taken place to find early Christian inscriptions and over 1,000 tombs have stripped the ruins of most of its materials. Today, few ruins remain. A Catholic cemetery rests next to it.

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In summary, there is so much to see during your visit to the Ruins of Carthage! I hope this guide will provide you the information you need to discover Carthage!

A Guide to The Ruins of Carthage Tunisia - Tunisia Guru (2024)


Is it worth visiting Carthage? ›

No visit to Carthage would be complete without exploring its extraordinary historical sites. From ancient ruins to well-preserved museums, there is so much to discover. Carthage, an ancient city located on the coast of modern-day Tunisia, was once a powerful civilization that rivaled Rome.

What race are the Carthaginians? ›

The Carthaginians were Phoenician settlers originating in the Mediterranean coast of the Near East. They spoke Canaanite, a Semitic language, and followed a local variety of the ancient Canaanite religion, the Punic religion. The Carthaginians travelled widely across the seas and set up numerous colonies.

Is there anything left of ancient Carthage? ›

The major known components of the site of Carthage are the acropolis of Byrsa, the Punic ports, the Punic tophet, the necropolises, theatre, amphitheatre, circus, residential area, basilicas, the Antonin baths, Malaga cisterns and the archaeological reserve.

Do Carthaginians still exist? ›

Carthage ceased to exist as a polity. Whether some of these slaves were eventually freed and started families cannot be known. Other Phoenician colonies in the region, such as Utica and Tunis survived and Phoenician continued to be spoken in the region for several hundred years.

How many people were killed in Carthage? ›

Losses: Carthaginian, 62,000 dead and 50,000 enslaved of an estimated 112,000 present in the city; Roman, 17,000 of 40,000.

What is Carthage called today? ›

Carthage, great city of antiquity on the north coast of Africa, now a residential suburb of the city of Tunis, Tunisia. Built on a promontory on the Tunisian coast, it was placed to influence and control ships passing between Sicily and the North African coast as they traversed the Mediterranean Sea.

What skin color were Phoenicians? ›

The Phoenicians are probably the best known of any ancient non-African people to have reached Africa by sea. They are said to have had skin-tones variously described as copper, bronze or red.

What language do Carthaginians speak? ›

The Punic language, also called Phoenicio-Punic or Carthaginian, is an extinct variety of the Phoenician language, a Canaanite language of the Northwest Semitic branch of the Semitic languages.

Did Carthaginians eat pork? ›

Meat and Seafood

This is not to say that other kind of animals, such as cows, pigs and goats, were not also eaten, but with the little evidence we have, it hard to say for certain how prominent these animals were in their diets, or indeed if they were mostly used for dairy production.

What did Hannibal look like? ›

Why We Don't Know What Hannibal Looked Like. Hannibal's personal appearance is not described or shown in any indisputable form, so it is difficult to simply point to any direct evidence. Coins minted during the period of his leadership could depict Hannibal, but could also depict his father or other relatives.

Did Carthage have slaves? ›

A survey of the evidence leaves us in no doubt that the Carthaginians not only had a system of slavery (rather than some mysterious Punic form of dependency), but an exceedingly large one at that.

What religion destroyed Carthage? ›

Following the Punic Wars, Carthage was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, who later rebuilt the city lavishly.

Were the Phoenicians black? ›

The ancient Egyptians were black Africans. The Phoenicians (today's light-skinned Egyptians) are originally descendants of Lebanese traders from the Mesopotamia area. They began settling in Egypt through trade with Africans.

Were there Jews in Carthage? ›

The overall impression gained from this evidence is that Jews in and around Carthage shared with gentiles a common language, funerary formulae, and ornamentation, differing only in their recourse to synagogues, occasional use of Jewish symbols and their separation at death by interment in a separate cemetery.

What did Phoenicians look like? ›

The Phoenicians looked like other Eastern Mediterranean people, especially Greeks and the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Demographics. The people now known as Phoenicians, similar to the neighboring Israelites, Moabites and Edomites, were a Canaanite people.

How long to spend in Carthage? ›

How long do you recommend staying in Carthage? You can cover Carthage and Sidi Bou Said all within a day, though it depends on how leisurely you enjoy the sights and/or museums. To be honest, there are a few good sites but nothing spectacular. Sunset at SBS is very nice and I would recommend if in the area.

What is special about Carthage? ›

Carthage was an ancient Phoenician city located on the northern coast of Africa. Its name means “new city” or “new town.” Before the rise of ancient Rome, Carthage was the most powerful city in the region because of its proximity to trade routes and its impressive harbor on the Mediterranean.

What is Carthage TX known for? ›

The City of Carthage is known as the Gas Capital of the United States and the friendliest spot in the world. We have it all--temperate weather, lots of jobs, a low tax base, good schools and churches, and the world famous Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

Can you visit the ruins of Carthage? ›

An enormous amphitheater and a cave are among the attractions at these famous ruins. Admission to the ruins includes the excellent Carthage Museum.

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