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Published: December 7th 2009
Just half an hour by train from the centre of Tunis is the ancient Roman city of Carthage. Normally sites of antiquity are set in remote areas but here the modern city of Carthage surrounds the World Heritage Site. One ticket buys you entry into all of the Heritage Sites, but you have to pay extra to get into some of the museums. The different locations are a bit spread out but if you don’t mind a walk, it’s fine.
First up for us was a climb to the top of Byrsa Hill. Up there we saw the Cathedral of St Louis. It’s extra to go in so we just visited the National Carthage Museum next door from where we got a splendid view of the surrounding countryside, the city suburbs and a close up view of the Roman ruins, some statues and the marvellous museum with its mosaics, pots and rocks!
A short walk through a posh suburb took us to the Roman Theatre which, whilst not as impressive as some we have seen, was nice to wander around. It is used for the modern day Carthage festival and therefore has been a little over-restored. The nearby ruins
of Roman villas are worth a wander around too. From there you get a good look at the Presidential Palace and also a sparkling new mosque.
Our next stop was the site of the Antonine Baths. These are wonderfully situated alongside the Mediterranean Sea but be careful with photography in some places as it right beside the guarded Palace! The place was full of tourists as a cruise ship had docked that morning. We managed to get some Spanish conversational practice though!!
Lunch was next and we treated ourselves to a seafront fish restaurant. We have no idea what the small fried fish were but they were delicious. Nicely sated we continued to the old Punic Port which would be very impressive if only you could see anything of it. The pictures in the museum had whetted our appetite but it takes a lot more imagination than either of us have to visualise the incredible harbour the Romans built. The site made for some great reflective photography though.
Close to the port is the Oceanographic Museum. It was very cheap to go in (well, we needed the loo!) and was really little more than an aquarium with
some maritime displays to boot. It was worth the 1 Dinar (50p) entry fee though. There are displays of both fresh and salt water fish with good pictures and explanations so you can identify which is which. The octopus was a very strange, ugly creature but it was fascinating to get a close-up look at one of them.
The day was drawing to a close as our train took us back to Tunis. We haven’t done everything there is to do in Carthage so, who knows, maybe we’ll be back one day.
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