Exploring Tourism in Tunisia
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details


Mahdia, Tunisia

Mahdia, Tunisia 

Its strategic geographical location and its fortifications allow the city, successively known as Jemma, Aphrodisium and Cap Africa, to play a leading role in the Mediterranean basin until the sixteenth century. Mahdia is first a Phoenician and then a Roman counter under the name of Aphrodisium4. The wreck of Mahdia, dating back to the first century BC BC and loaded with Athenian art objects was found in the twentieth century (around 1907) six kilometers off Mahdia; it makes the latter one of the richest sites of underwater   archeology in Tunisia.

Crusade against Mahdia in 1390: The year 916 saw the arrival of the first Fatimid caliph Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi who ordered the foundation of Mahdia, whose construction spanned five years, and which gives it its current name. The city becomes the capital of the Fatimids in 921 and the rest until 973, when Mahdia is replaced by Cairo. Besieged for eight months (944-945) by the kharidjites under the leadership of their leader Abu Yazid, the city resisted victoriously. In 1057, the Zirids took refuge there against the threat of the Hilaliens.

In 1086-1087, to stop repeated attacks by corsairs in this region, including those orchestrated by the Zirid ruler Tamim (1062-1108), the major trading cities of the northern Mediterranean - Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi, Salerno and Gaeta - arm buildings and seize Mahdia.

The attack, led by Hughes of Pisa, receives help from Rome; it also involves the lord Pantaleone of Amalfi and receives the support of Mathilde of Tuscany.

Borj El Kebir Mahdia : This borj, also called Kasbah, is a fortress built at the end of the XVIth century on the site of the former Fatimid palace and is considered one of the finest specimens of Ottoman military architecture.  Built on a quadrangular plan and later endowed with corner bastions, the building is surrounded by strong walls originally with one entrance only (after it was turned into a prison, another access was added in the XIXth century). This door leads through a vaulted and elbowed passage, into a courtyard onto which various vaulted rooms open. In the south-eastern corner of the courtyard, an earlier oratory was conserved and integrated into the building. From the wall-walk, converted to a terrace, there is a lovely view over the tip of the Cape Mahdia promontory and, closer to the monument, over the ancient harbour basin that certain specialists date to the Punic period.

Check out more Places to Visit